KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Two Tennessee freshmen had the black stripes on their helmets removed at practice Friday night.
Coach Butch Jones opened up his post-practice comments by singling out the deserving players and mentioning their play on the field.
“A big day for two newcomers,” Jones said. “The first two to get their stripes off today — tight end LaTrell Bumphus and safety Theo Jackson. Their stripes were removed from practice and were very well deserved.”
The players’ respective position groups decide to remove someone’s stripe when they believe it has been earned.
Both players have received plenty of praise from the coaching staff during fall camp.
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop signaled out Jackson’s performance on Thursday.
“If there’s one guy who has probably emerged that I maybe didn’t expect to, [it] is Theo Jackson,” Shoop said. “As a freshman, he has a composure about him and he has a high football intellect. The game is just not too fast for him. He asks 200 Level questions in meetings and I think [defensive backs coach] Charlton [Warren] and I are both really pleased with his progress so far.”
Jackson had a pass breakup in the end zone on tight end Eli Wolf in Friday’s live goal-line scrimmage.
Bumphus and Jackson came to Tennessee as 3-star prospects, according to 247Sports. The Vols have more heralded recruits, but from this point on it only matters what the players do on the field.
“You never know,” Jones said. “You’re always kind of interested to see who will have it removed first, but very deserving. They come and they come and they work hard every day earning the respect of their peers.”
Next phase of camp
Friday marked practice No. 10 of fall camp, and the Vols are ready to make the transition to the next phase of the preseason.
The players ended their summer school classes before Friday’s practice. The team will move into a hotel for the next six days.
Jones did not downplay the importance of the next few days as he hopes to build more cohesion among his players.
“We move into the hotel tonight, and to me this is all about training camp now,” Jones said. “It’s 100 percent focus on football and this team has to continue to grow and mature. So, the next few days are going to tell us a lot about our football team.”