Freshman, newcomers vital to success

It's obvious from the onset that the newcomers that Derek Dooley has assembled in his first six months as the head coach at the University of Tennessee are definitely the key to his and the Vols' success. Early contributions will be vital. Go "Inside" to get our thoughts and impressions on the offensive side of the ball for those newcomers.

It's obvious from the onset that the newcomers that Derek Dooley has assembled in his first six months as the head coach at the University of Tennessee are definitely the key to his and the Vols success.

When I say success, I don't just mean long-term either.

If the Vols are to go bowling this year, it will be in large part due to the influence of the young talent on this team.

Dooley has said on several occasions that the Vols need some surprises and players who step up this season.

After getting a chance to watch this squad for the last four days, it is obvious that this team can be very talented; it's also obvious they are very young.

Several of the true freshmen and newcomers will have to play significant roles for the Vols this fall.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FRESHMEN AND NEWCOMERS ON OFFENSE

Da'Rick Rogers has displayed the athletic talents unmatched by hardly anyone on this team. He is big, thick and makes the hard receptions look relatively easy.

He will end up making some unbelievable catches this season; he will be a difference maker in at least two ball games. Good speed and very physical.

Evander Wells shows that you can't teach speed.

Wells possesses great speed. He also received the number 22. The Vols will be glad to see that they have 22 on their team instead of seeing a speedy No. 22 on the sidelines when they play Ole Miss this season.

Wells, who is a track star, has made several big catches in early practices. If he can continue to impress once the pads go on Sunday, Dooley may have found some special help.

Justin Hunter should also see action.

Big, fast and good hands, Hunter will be a big threat in the red zone. Tennessee doesn't just have one big guy; they have two with Matt Milton. Line up those two on opposite sides of the field and it could cause defensive nightmares. Hunter has been solid in his first four practices.

Speaking of Milton, he has shown much improvement over the spring. He dropped a lot of footballs in the spring, but the first day of practice this fall he dropped zero. He has made up for some of that the last couple of days, but is much improved and is bigger and stronger.

A newcomer will be the starter at quarterback for UT when the Vols lineup to play Tennessee Martin in the first game of the year.

The odds-on bet is that it will be junior college transfer Matt Simms.

Simms has shown consistency and the necessary leadership so far that make people think he will be hard to beat. Simms' throws have been more accurate and consistency has been the key so far.

Tyler Bray, the true freshman, will see some action and is still competing for the starting role. His throws have been just a tad late in the first four days, sometimes putting the ball behind the fast and talented receivers.

Bray could win the job, but at this point, it doesn't seem likely.

Two freshmen offensive linemen have a chance to see a lot of action this fall.

JaWuan James and Zach Fulton have both been impressive.

James, who has been here since January, will most likely start at one of the tackle positions for the Vols. He is very athletic, doesn't look like he is over 300 pounds and has great feet.

Fulton appears to be a beast physically. He looks the part; now it will be determined how good of shape he is in.

Also yet to be determined is how both Fulton and James will be physically with the pads on.

Don't let me forget one other freshman that will surely find some position to play this fall.

Running back Rajion Neal looks the part and has shown great work ethic so far. He is a different type back from Poole and Oku and could see himself in the rotation for playing time.

Also don't be surprised if the coaching staff finds a place for him on special teams.


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