KNOXVILLE (WATE) — The clock is ticking leading up to Tennessee’s season opener. Tennessee has been on the field for seven practices, but there are still some questions marks for positions.
WATE 6 On Your Side Sports Analyst Josh Ward says he is curious about who will fill Tennessee’s cornerback position.
Ward said the Vols do have some players they can work with, like Justin Martin and Emmanual Mosley, but they also have a newcomer, Shaq Wiggins. Wiggins started his career at Georgia and then played at Louisville.
“He can be a good player,” said Ward. “You have some long players as well like Marquill Osborne, a rising sophomore. Baylen Buchanan is a sophomore as well. Then some freshman that will get an opportunity to play, Cheyenne Labruzza, fun name, but I also think he could be a really good player.”
Tennessee has numbers and depth, according to Ward, but he says fans will have to wait to see who they can rely on as cornerback.
There are still some big questions about who will be Tennessee’s starting quarterback. At camp, Quinten Dormady has been leading quarterback drills, but the question is will that transfer over to the landing the starting spot before September 4?
“I think there is a good chance that we will see both quarterbacks playing in the season opener,” said Ward. “I also feel strongly that Dormady is the starter, but Darintono continues to impress with what he can do within the offense and I think the coaches want to continue to explore that as well.”
Are Offensive line injuries a cause for concern?
Fans watched injuries decimate Tennessee last season.
Coach Butch Jones confirmed last week that offensive lineman Chance Hall is out. We also seen Trey Smith, Brett Kendrick and Marcus Tatum miss some time up front as well. Should fans be worried about injuries this season?
“It’s certainly not good news when you hear about injuries, especially early in camp and when Chance Hall, who is a good player, is lost for the season, said Ward, “but I don’t think it is too much to be worried about right now, because you have a group of guys that can step up and they have a lot of versatility.”
Ward says Trey Smith, who is a true freshman, could play tackle, but is locked into the right guard position right now. He also said there are several players, some with less experience and some with more experience, that can play inside and out.
“Jashon Robertson could play center or guard for Tennessee. Brett Kendrick could be the right tackle, could be the left guard for Tennessee. Guys that can move around and Watt Wells, Tennessee’s offensive line coach, said he thinks they have seven to nine guys that they can count on on the field right now. That’s a pretty good number right now,” said Ward.
Biggest surprises in fall camp
Ward says the biggest surprise from fall camp is linebacker Derrick Kirkland, Jr. He says Kirkland is a junior and is healthy.
“He has a chance to show what he can be in the middle. Then you have guys coming back like Cortez McDowell. I think he is fresher. I think they have more depth. That will show as camp goes along,” said Ward.
On the other side of the field, Ethan Wolf has been a big stand-out at fall camp. He has put on a lot of muscle.
Wolf needs just 249 more yards to become the third Vol tight end with over 1,000 yards.