KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The intensity and physicality picked up at Haslam Field on Tuesday evening as Tennessee held its third practice of fall camp.
The Vols sported shells for the first time this fall and kicked off practice with the “Circle of Life” drill to get some contact going early on.
“I thought we had a really productive day,” Vols head coach Butch Jones said after practice. I liked our mindset with the way we came out – probably the best practice No. 3 that we’ve had, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Jones, along with junior running back John Kelly, sophomore wide receiver Marquez Calloway, redshirt sophomore defensive end Darrell Taylor and junior defensive back Micah Abernathy spoke with the media on Tuesday to discuss the team’s first practice in shells and the physicality that Team 121 is looking to play with this season. Kelly has been particularly impressed with the physicality of the running back group so far this fall.
“That’s all I’ve told them from the day we got here,” Kelly said. “We’re going to be physical and we’re going to be tough. They’ve all been pretty physical every opportunity we have to be physical. They’ve all been pretty impressive.”
Kelly and Taylor are looking to fill voids left by departed starters and are aiming to secure starting spots for the first time in their careers.
Kelly led all UT running backs with 630 yards rushing last season and also averaged a team-best 6.4 yards per carry after a strong second half of the year. The Detroit, Mich., native is expected to lead a young and talented stable of ball carriers this season that features sophomore Carlin Fils-aime as well as a trio of freshmen in Ty Chandler, Tim Jordan and Trey Coleman, among others.
“I realize that I’m the oldest guy back there so every time I’m doing something, I know that there are a lot of younger guys watching me,” Kelly said. “I feel like it is just as much my job as it is Coach Gillespie’s job to get them ready … I really just want the best for everybody that’s in the backfield with me. I’m going to prepare everybody like they’re going to be a starter.”
Taylor talked about how the defense has looked so far this fall and what fans should expect to see from the Big Orange on that side of the ball this season.
“I think our defense has a lot of energy guys,” Taylor said. “We are going to be able to run around and make a lot of plays. We are able to swarm to the ball.”