First impressions of Camp Dooley Day 1

It's easy to come up with two words to describe Derek Dooley's opening fall camp practice at the University of Tennessee - very hot. Go "Inside" this First Impressions Notebook to get this writer's thought on Day 1 of Camp Dooley.

It's easy to come up with two words to describe Derek Dooley's opening fall camp practice at the University of Tennessee.

Very Hot.

Dooley split up his team for the first day of fall camp Wednesday afternoon with the veterans hitting the field in the midst of one of the hottest days in Knoxville this summer.

Dooley addressed the heat issue after practice.

"I'm sure it's hot in Gainesville, and Tuscaloosa," Dooley said. "The coaches that are from Louisiana on our staff think it's cool out here. It's something that they have to push through and can't use for an excuse."

One thing is for sure - practices under Dooley will be well organized and utilized to the fullest extent.

The two separate practices allowed more reps for the veterans and for the true freshmen and newcomers.

"We wanted to have extra one-on-one time with all of our guys but especially the younger ones," Dooley explained. "We are going to have to have some of them ready to play early. This gives our coaching staff some extra one-on-one time, some valuable teaching time with the new guys."


I took the offense in the first practice and the defense in the second one to give you my first impressions of Camp Dooley Day 1.

This was definitely a day of teaching. So for football enthusiasts that are looking for the big hit of the day, you will have to wait until the team is in pads for the first time on Sunday.


Matt Simms threw with accuracy and looked sharp in the early stages of practice. One thing that impressed me about the JC signal caller was that he was back out there as a leader for the second practice. He was in street clothes but was there for moral support and to help tutor the younger quarterbacks.

Simms really seems to have a good grasp of the offense and the leadership role that everyone has talked about this summer was evident on day one.

Tyler Bray looked a little bigger than he did in the spring. Don't kid yourself - he is still skinny but looks more toned and more comfortable on the football field.

He had some good throws and seems to have confidence.

Running Backs

Tauren Poole was impressive. He runs with authority and power, and he also seems to have a second gear of acceleration.

This young man appears to be very, very hungry and Vol fans should be happy with his game day performances. Expect big things from this young man this fall.

Toney Williams showed no signs of being hurt. While it's uncertain how healthy he is, he didn't appear too timid Wednesday.

The newcomer of the bunch is true freshman Rajion Neal.

He is going to be special. Already one of the most impressive looking physical specimens on the team, he showed Wednesday he had a quick feel and a burst at the line of scrimmage that could easily make him the most underrated player of this recruiting class.

It's evident that he came to camp ready to play, both physically and mentally. His hard work will most likely see him getting some playing time somewhere early.

Wide Receivers

The one that caught my eye and caught just about every ball thrown to him was true freshman Matt Milton.

Milton, who had a bad case of the dropsies this spring, appears more mature, bigger and stronger than he did in the spring.

Another thing that was obvious Wednesday was that veteran wide receiver coach Charlie Baggett won't accept lack of effort. He made several big-time guys go back and do a drill over if they were not giving full effort, no matter who they were.

Seniors Gerald Jones and Denarious Moore were solid catching the ball and could be seen helping the young guys in the unit. This should be a quality group of wideouts and expect them to only get better.

Tight End

Luke Stocker is solid at the position; he looks a little bigger and stronger than he was last year. He said at SEC Media Days that he was bigger, and he looked the part Wednesday.

Offensive Line

Cody Pope looked like a new guy out there with a great attitude that filtered throughout the entire offensive line. This group realizes that expectations are low for them, and they are out to prove people wrong.

Their work ethic is impressive and the unity that Coach Harry Hiestand has instilled in this unit may end up paying huge dividends.

JerQuari Schofield said that he was in the best shape of his life and that appears to be the case. Dallas Thomas looked impressive, as well as Jarrod Shaw.

This group has a chance to be bigger, stronger and more athletic than last year's offensive line.

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