The first real, comprehensive depth chart (pdf) of the Tennessee Volunteers was released yesterday, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (h/t to Home Sweet Home of Gate21). As expected, freshmen players litter the field, including a listing or two that are surprising even to those following the practices.
#1 - Kevin Cooper Cooper is a little shorter and stouter than Johnson, which should help in blocking situations. I don't know how the receiving comparison works out, but protection for the quarterback is probably a high priority until we know how well Crompton performs with the new offense against actual opponents.
#2 - Austin Johnson I'm a little surprised not to see Sam Edgmon given a nod, considering how well he seemed to be catching passes.
- #1 - Bryce Brown and Montario Hardesty The first surprise to me is the cop-out of listing co-#1s. Even if the very first play against Western Kentucky has both of these players in (and one fullback out), one of the two is still the #2 option for the staff. I still think that, at the moment, Hardesty is the "first-option tailback", but this might be a way to add some publicity for Bryce Brown.
#1 - Nu'Keese Richardson Nuke is the only true freshman to have unquestioned ownership of a #1 slot on the offense. Getting the nod over Warren is a testament to his work ethic and his ability to stay healthy through the preseason. I wonder, though, how much of this was influenced by the injury to Gerald Jones and the need to add a little more speed and maneuverability on the field.
#2 - Brandon Warren Stay healthy and practice hard, young man. Coaches don't evaluate training table etiquette when choosing starters.
- #1 - Quintin Hancock In his senior year, Hancock has a golden opportunity to show Vol Nation that he's as good as he can look in practice. That he is the tall receiver on the field (and not Brandon Warren) is a statement about the premium that the coaching staff placed on practice time.
- #2 - Marsalis Teague I wouldn't expect Teague to be far behind right now, with Hancock having the advantage of spring practice to learn more of the playbook. By the time Jones gets back, Teague may very well have moved up (back) to send on the depth chart here.
- #1 - Luke Stocker Stocker's the better receiver, and Cottam's the better blocker. This may be more informative of the staff's offensive tendencies than the actual comparison between the two.
- #2 - Jeff Cottam I have to wonder: if he hadn't been injured all last year, where would Cottam be as a player right now?
- #1 - Chris Scott No surprise here.
- #2 - Dallas Thomas The redshirt freshman is the heir apparent and should get some live fire time here and there throughout the season.
- #1 - Vladimir Richard I like Vlad, he's a fun guy.
- #2 - Cody Pope Another heir apparent, it's notable that Vlad is listed at 300 lb and Pope at 288. This offensive line is going to be much lighter and quicker than last year's, courtesy of a different zone blocking concept.
- #1 - Cody Sullins Who might have been #1 even if McNeil hadn't been injured.
- #2 - Cory Sullins Learn quickly, young man. Please learn quickly.
- #1 - Jacques McClendon where experience again made the difference. The right guard will be critical in the new running game, as he both assists the center in blocking and is the primary blocker to open up most cutback lanes on zone sweep plays. If you're inclined to watch line play, watch him.
- #2 - William Brimfield Note, though, that the beef is apparent on the right side of the line. McClendon is 324 and Brimfield is 346. Run blockers, yes.
- #1 - Aaron Douglas and Jarrod Shaw Even more transparent than the co-number 1 running backs - we're not going to see two right tackles on the first play against Western Kentucky. I'm guessing that Douglas has more potential, but Shaw is more polished.
(Note: I think that the defensive line terms of 'left' and 'right' refer to the left and right as the offense sees them, so the left end lines up against the offense's left tackle, and so on.)
- #1 - Gerald Williams Raise your hand if you saw this coming at the beginning of spring camp, when GW was begging Kiffin to let him play linebacker. It's good to be unblockable.
- #2 - Willie Bohannon and Ben Martin Sigh. Another co-listing. I'll stop that now, as you know my feelings.
- #1 - Wes Brown - at 257 pounds, he's one of the lighter starting tackles you'll ever see. This feels much like a pass-rushing tackle, similar to the way the New York Giants line up.
- #2 - Andre Mathis - I think Mathis will be in for short-yardage situations.
#1 - Montori Hughes and Dan Williams Talk of Dan Williams not being the exclusive starter did not begin for a while, and even when Hughes came on strong earlier in the fall camp, it was thought he'd be at left tackle. The staff really like what they see in this new kid, and so do I.
- #1 - Chris Walker who has also had a really nice fall, though you don't tend to hear about it as much because of Williams and Hughes.
- #2 - Steven Fowlkes The consensus on Fowlkes appear to be that he has a really, really high ceiling but is still developing. If he stays on course, then next year's presumed lineup of Gerald Williams, Hughes, and Fowlkes may be special.
- #1 - LaMarcus Thompson This is not a surprise.
- #2 - Greg King That Thompson was the obvious #1 is not a slight on King, though. You don't hear much of him, but it's always been very complimentary. I think he should be at full speed next year.
- #1 - Nick Reveiz Even less surprising. The staff loves this guy, and his attitude should be a real emotional boost for the whole defense.
- #2 - Herman Lathers It's hard to find information on Lathers, both because the news coverage on linebackers has been almost nonexistent and because Shorty Reveiz has made a better story whenever they did bother mentioning these guys.
- #1 - Rico McCoy Injury didn't keep him from losing his slot. Healthy, he's one of our best and I look forward to seeing him play.
- #2 - Savion Frazier I'm curious how close Frazier came to taking the slot when McCoy was hurt. Unfortunately, the lack of news drama here suggests it wasn't as close as I'd hoped.
#1 - Anthony Anderson and Mike Edwards I think this really means that Anderson is the #1 for the first couple of games, but Edwards could take it so long as he keeps learning the system.
- #1 - Art Evans No real surprise here. His name has come up quite a bit during practices, particularly for his interceptions.
- #2 - Marsalous Johnson The depth is really nice in the secondary.
- #1 - Eric Berry
#2,436 - Darren Myles, Jr. and Prentiss Waggner Welcome to the competition for the guy that gets to replace Eric Berry next year. Don't worry; we won't be judging you according to Berry. Sure.
#1 - Janzen Jackson and Dennis Rogan I'm still a little surprised that Rogan gets moved around between corner and safety as much as he does. Jack of all trades, master of none? However it works out, I'd like him to have a more permanent home on the roster.
- #1 - Chad Cunningham His kicking strength is supposedly much better this year.
- #2 - David Harrington
- #3 - The Ghost of Colquitts Past
- #1 - Chad Cunningham
- #2 - Daniel Lincoln
- #1 Nu'Keese Richardson I guess those worries about ball-catching weren't enough to sway the staff. Hopefully that means he's been catching better.
- #2 - Dennis Rogan
- #1 - David Oku
- #2 - Dennis Rogan