It’s time to trade in swim trunks for shoulder pads, as Tennessee’s football team returns from spring break to hit the practice field.
The Vols held three spring practices before taking last week off. Tennessee’s coaches have at least one good day of video to learn from, since the Vols’ final practice before the break was in full pads.
Here are three things to watch as the Vols return to spring practice:
To the left, to the left
Redshirt freshman Drew Richmond’s transition to left tackle won’t be easy. Having played on the right side, everything is different when you flip to the left. It will be challenging to say the least, & could be an experiment by Tennessee’s coaches. If it doesn’t work, Richmond can move back to right tackle in the fall. If Richmond can master the position however, he could provide stability at an important position for years.
The Vols have plenty of options at safety. It’s obvious that Tennessee’s coaches really like sophomore Rashaan Gaulden, as he started spring practice with the first team; UT’s coaches are also high on sophomore Micah Abernathy. Where does that leave junior defensive back Todd Kelly Jr.? Also, it wouldn’t be a total shock if sophomore Jauan Jennings saw some time at safety. Tennessee’s defensive coaches would love the move, but the Vols need Jennings at receiver — for now. If some other receivers can emerge, it’s possible Tennessee could at least give him a look.
Let’s get physical?
The Vols are beat up on the defensive line after having several players undergo offseason surgery. Just how much full contact can the team handle? It’s a fine balancing act. While most of the healthy offensive and defensive linemen are experienced, others could use some work, such as Richmond and sophomore defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie. Clearly, Tennessee’s coaches don’t want to push too hard, but they also don’t want their players just going through the motions. Look for the Vols to hold at least one physical, scrimmage-like practice per week, but likely not more than that.