Stokes’ Potent Quotables
It’s Sunday so there really isn’t a lot going on with the football team. They are wrapping up junior day and the Vol faithful are soaking in wins by the men’s and women’s basketball team as well as the baseball team. This weekend also saw the start of spring practice and it has been well documented on tnsportsradio.com. Since there really isn’t any major on the field “news” to report, I have compiled what I feel are the more intriguing quotes from the players that were available for interviews this weekend.
I’ll start with Curt Maggitt. We all know how much Team 117 missed having the versatile linebacker on the field last season. Speculation ran rampant as to which game he would finally be available to play in and as the weeks progressed he appeared healthy on the sidelines but never played. The speculation began as to whether he was healthy and the coaches just wanted him around for another year or Maggitt made the decision to not play. He addressed how that went down on Friday saying “I was really trying to feel it out in the first three, three to four games and um just didn’t feel it myself, you know what I’m saying. And so I think it was probably like the 4th or 5th game I sat down and talked to Coach Jones. That was, it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.” He went on to say that he “just wanted to get healthy and give my all for the university.” What I found most interesting though was that anytime he was asked anything specific about when he felt 100% or if there were any other injuries that he was recovering from last season he would only respond with “I’ve made good gains. I’m stronger all over.” and “I’ve had terrific gains this offseason lifting wise. Upper body, lower body. I’m feeling better and better.”
Now on to defensive back Justin Coleman. His struggles have been witnessed by all on the field yet on the practice field coaches have raved about him time and time again. It definitely has left a lot of us scratching our heads and thirsting for better someone to step up and put Coleman on the bench. There may be a reason for the inconsistencies. He was asked Friday about how it being his first practice as a senior and if it felt different. What he said didn’t sit well with me. “Yeah, I mean this my last go round. So I, I probably should have gave it all at the beginning, but right now I know I got to give it all for everybody else.” Maybe we haven’t seen the best of Justin Coleman, which could mean good things for this defense. It’s just aggravating for me to know that he wasn’t emptying the bucket the past couple of seasons which could have resulted in better defensive play.
On Saturday, cornerback Cam Sutton was made available. Before we went into the area for the interviews, we saw a video of highlights from Friday’s practice. This was the first time anyone outside of the university had seen Von Pearson breaking Sutton’s ankles. Sutton was asked about Pearson and if he had some pretty good moves. Cam didn’t say much other than “Yes he does. Very shifty.” You could tell he kind of knew that we had seen him get embarrassed and as a competitor gave credit but wasn’t happy about it. I like that a lot. He also touched on how much better the defensive back group can get going up against Pearson and Malone in practice. “Just going against that competitiveness in practice just makes it easier in games.” I think we see an improved defensive backfield in 2014,not just because of talent, but because of the caliber of receiver they will line up against every day in practice. Last season you had a decent route runner in Josh Smith and a very raw Marquez North but other than that a lot of average guys. That’s not the case this season.
Speaking of the improved wide receiving corp, we also were able to speak with Marquez North on Saturday. Early in practice Coleman beat him badly in a goal line man drill. I asked him about how he bounced back the rest of practice “Oh it’s, um, being competitve, going hard on every snap. Like, there’s going to be a winner and loser on each play, so you just gotta always, um, bring it and just snap and clear.” Snap and clear, love hearing that from the young receiver because that is something Butch has preached and it is sticking. He also talked about true freshman receiver Josh Malone “Josh Malone is a very competitive guy. He really reminds me of myself. We’re in the same age group but I still say that I really like Josh a lot.” North was also asked about hit offseason training and what he did in terms of ball caught “Really I just hit the JUGS everyday. Actually I get one hands in every day too. I get at least 20 one hands during the offseason.” Even though I already knew the answer to the question, I asked him if he had any one handed catches so up in practice on Saturday “Uh, I had about two actually. That’s kind of ironic. I had about two.” Standing next to North was Jason Yellin, the assistant AD for media relations. He was nodding his head in verification to North’s claims.
With a new offensive line there are a lot of concerns. One of the new pieces to fill the void of the departed 5 is Dontavious Blair. I asked rsJR o-lineman Mack Crowder about Blair “He’s a big athletic guy. On the field he’s, he’s been doing pretty good mentally. Uh, he still has a lot of work to do, he’s pretty raw, um, but he’s a great worker. And he, he brings it every day, and he’s, he’s all in for us. And, um, depending, like I said on how bad he wants it he’ll be a great asset for us I believe.”
Finally, we were able to talk with rising senior running back Marlin Lane, who is going through his final spring with Tennessee. Coach Jones has said that Marlin has went through the biggest change for the better of any athlete he’s been around. Marlin was asked why this winter has been so much better “I just, uh, sacrificed on Christmas break. I stayed up here and worked out instead of going home. Just to get my mind together and clearing up my off field situation.” Lane was asked about some of the new guys, specifically Malone and Pearson, he said “it’s like they been here for a year. It’s not like they just came in. They picking up the offense fast, executing, making plays in practice.” Of course he was also asked about Jalen Hurd. He offered a very realistic opinion of Hurd “Uh, I just see him, you know, just getting used to college like every newcomer. It’s day two of practice, uh, he picking it up. He’s competiting. He’s trying to get the hang of the offense.”
Some pretty interesting quotes from the guys this weekend. I found it awesome that every player interviewed and Coach Jones all said the same thing about that competition level so far. That it has improved. No one said it was the same. Every single player said it was a night and day difference. They also said that the energy was very high and their teammates were bringing it every day. Also, every one toted the company line on the QB’s. According to every player asked, the battle is even, they are all competing and no one has an edge right now. I did find it interesting that Marlin said no matter which QB was in that it was “the same voice”. That could prove very beneficial if there is an injury to the starting quarterback.
Be sure to keep logging in to www.tnsportsradio.com as we keep bringing you great coverage of spring ball!