Tennessee isn't nearly as talented in 2010 as it was in the 1990s and early 2000s, however, which is why transfers could play key roles in the seasons ahead.
The most spectacular catch of Thursday's evening workout was turned in by DeMario Williams, a sophomore receiver who started his career at Middle Tennessee. The 6-1, 178-pounder made a leaping one-handed grab of a ball thrown high and slightly behind him. Given that Tennessee recently moved wideouts Marsalis Teague and Ted Meline to the secondary, Williams has a shot at earning playing time someday.
Malik Jackson, a 6-5, 265-pound junior transfer from Southern Cal, will see significant time at defensive end and perhaps slide inside to tackle from time to time. Depending on the severity of Ben Martin's leg/foot injury, Jackson might even work his way into the starting lineup.
Another transfer who shows promise is Brent Slusher, a 6-4, 254-pound senior tight end who began his career at Auburn. He made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch Thursday night and has the build to be an effective blocker. Considering Derek Dooley's penchant for two-tight end sets, Slusher could find his way onto the field.
Doak Raulston, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, is a 6-2, 190-pound redshirt freshman quarterback I profiled in a separate front-page story. He struggled with his early throws Thursday night - one-hopping several of them - but settled down and looked better after that.
Minor Bowens, a transfer from Tennessee State University, is a 6-3, 293-pound senior defensive tackle candidate. Given how thin UT's depth is at D-tackle, Bowens can't be overlooked as a potential contributor.
Keensen Chambers is a 6-5, 260-pound sophomore defensive end who began his career at UConn. I haven't noticed him thus far but it's early.
Charles Karlosky is a 6-2, 218-pound senior tight end prospect who made his way to UT after a stint at Tennessee Tech.
Some other observations from Thursday's workouts:
- Ted Meline, making the switch from wideout to safety, shows some promise, although he doesn't look nearly as comfortable on defense as wideout-turned-corner Marsalis Teague.
- Lanky freshman receiver Justin Hunter continues to impress with how effortlessly he makes sharp cuts and adjusts to off-target throws.
- Matt Milton had a bizarre outing in the afternoon workout. The 6-5, 220-pound freshman receiver made a spectacular one-hand catch, then dropped two balls in a row that hit him right in the hands - each time doing 10 penalty pushups. He then made a nifty catch on a pass thrown down around his knees. The guy apparently makes all of the tough catches but loses concentration on the easy ones.