Tennessee’s coaches will open spring practice during a Monday morning press conference. Here is the latest news as it develops.
11:00 – Tennessee coach Butch Jones, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord take the podium.
11:02 – Position changes: Austin Smith from linebacker to defensive end. Michah Abernathy from cornerback to safety. Jason Croom from receiver to tight end.
11:10 – Jones on off-field issues: “I don’t see that being an issue one bit.” Jones said that it was a focused off-season.
11:11 – Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle had the screws removed from his ankle recently. He’ll be out for spring practice.
11:12 – DeBord said entire offense needs to improve in order to achieve a better passing game. Didn’t mention quarterback Joshua Dobbs specifically.
11:13 – In light of former offensive tackle Kyler Kerbyson’s departure, DeBord said Dylan Weisman and Coleman Thomas have accepted leadership roles. No specific names mentioned to actually replace Kerbyson at the position. DeBord said it will be a rotation early.
11:15 – Jones said he would be concerned about eliminating contact in practice, as was recently mandates for Ivy League schools.
11:18 – DeBord said he is excited about working with Dobbs and breaking down his technique. “I look forward to seeing what he does on the field today,” DeBord said.
11:19 – Jones said his program is more “established” but still needs to make progress. That doesn’t mean he’ll be any easier on his players via wireless microphone, which is piped into loudspeakers around the practice field. “I’m on the mic because I love to coach,” Jones said. Jones said demands at practice will still be high.
11:20 – Jones on players supporting diversity protesters: “They’re more than football players. They’re students…I fully support them.”
11:21 – When asked if he told former receiver Draw Bowles that he “betrayed” the team, Jones said, “I made a statement…I’d appreciate if you could keep it to spring football. That’s what this press conference is about, spring football.” Jones was accused of making the statement by Bowles as part of the ongoing Title IX lawsuit against the university.
11:25 – Jones said Dave Lawson is still the head strength and conditioning coach for the athletic department, but Matt Szerszen has taken a more active role with the football team. There has been no status change for suspended defensive tackle Alexis Johnson, who has been charged with felony assault and pleaded not guilty. Former offensive lineman George Bullock has graduated and is no longer a member of the team.