KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With Tennessee spending much of its idle date developing younger players, the Volunteers crop of newcomer receivers has received plenty of hands-on coaching this week.
Wideout assistant Zach Azzanni said the focus has been on “getting back to the basics.”
“Fundamentals,” he continued.
“Get as many plays run with them as we can. Really improving those younger guys.”
Freshman Tyler Byrd has already secured a rotational role for the Vols, but Azzanni believes the Florida speedster is on the verge of becoming a weekly weapon.
On the season, Byrd has 10 receptions for 120 yards, and with Alvin Kamara potentially sidelined for several weeks, Tennessee could turn to the freshman to generate explosive plays.
“He’s learning the offense and doing well,” Azzanni said.
“He’s a great kid. Every week we try to get more on his plate, more on his plate. He’s pretty much got it all now. Now its just going in there in a game situation as a freshman and reacting and getting it right. He’s not there yet but he’s darn close. He’s doing a great job.”
The Vols are also giving added attention to fellow freshmen Marquez Callaway, Brandon Johnson and Latrell Williams.
Johnson has played sparingly this season, while Tennessee is prepping Callaway to possibly contribute late in the year.
“Marquez is going to have to help us,” Azzanni said.
“We know that. We’ve planned on playing Marquez, just the way the game have gone we haven’t needed to.”
Meanwhile, Williams recently returned to the practice field after being sidelined with a nagging hamstring injury for most of the season. Azzanni isn’t sure what he has in the 5-foot-11, 175-pound receiver yet — other than speed.
“We know he’s fast. We know he’s talented, but I’m not sure what I have there yet, to be honest with you,” Azzanni said.
“He wants to be out there, and he’s (been) frustrated. He’ll be there (this week), which is fun. I’m excited.”