KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Tennessee players — to a man — said they had put the Jalen Hurd transfer bombshell behind them.
The team had a relaxed vibe for the two quick periods the media witnessed, as coaches and players joked and laughed throughout the team’s stretch session. That’s not particularly unusual, but the mood certainly wasn’t damper after a three-game losing streak and Monday’s abrupt news.
Coach Butch Jones jumpstarted the actual practice with his traditional ‘Circle of Life’ drill. Drew Richmond went against Charles Mosley, and the two Wolf brothers took a shot at each other. Freshman Nigel Warrior and Marquez Callaway went at it, too.
The most notable battle was Jauan Jennings vs. Justin Martin. Calling it a “battle” is being kind, as Jennings rag-dolled Martin to the ground on two attempts.
Meanwhile, with no Hurd or Alvin Kamara, who remains sidelined with a knee injury, all eyes were on tailback John Kelly.
The sophomore rushed for 94 yards in the loss to South Carolina and was the lone scholarship tailback working with the position group during light individual drills Tuesday.
Kelly will shoulder the load against Tennessee Tech on Saturday (4 p.m., SEC Network+), making his first-career start.
* Safety Evan Berry, wearing a visor on his helmet, and cornerback Malik Foreman were the only two players in green, non-contact jerseys. Starting safety Micah Abernathy, who missed the South Carolina game nursing a hamstring, was a full-participant Tuesday.
* Tennessee’s starting offensive line remained (L-R) Brett Kendrick, Jashon Robertson, Dylan Wiesman, Jack Jones and Chance Hall. But Coleman Thomas took plenty or reps at center with the 1’s, as Jones continues to recover from hand surgery.
* With no Kahlil McKenzie or Shy Tuttle, sophomore Kyle Phillips lined up alongside Kendal Vickers at tackle with the first-team defense. Junior college transfer Alexis Johnson was also taking reps at tackle.