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September 24, 2013Tennessee's return to the practice field Tuesday afternoon was marked by two surprise visitors: former Volunteers national championship-winning coach Phillip Fulmer and cornerback Riyahd Jones.
Fulmer chatted amiably on the practice field with a variety of UT personnel including Anthony Parker, Brad Pendergrass, Mikki Allen and guest Dwayne Goodrich after addressing the team prior to practice, a speech that prompted a standing ovation from players and apparently left Fulmer teary-eyed.
The return of Jones also was an emotional moment. A 6-foot, 179-pound cornerback originally from Columbus, Ga., who signed with the Vols this spring out of Garden City Community College, Jones had been out since the first week of camp with a baffling circulation problem in his legs. Jones had been at times forced to utilize a wheelchair to move around campus, and it also was believed the circulation problem might cause Jones to not return to practice this fall.
But wearing a green No. 21 jersey, Jones beat several of his teammates out of the locker room and onto the field for his first practice in six weeks.
Butch Jones again ratcheted up the intensity early, both imploring his players via microphone that 'Tennessee football don't walk!' The Vols' first-year coach soon thereafter informed senior end Jacques Smith and freshman end Corey Vereen that they would compete for a starting spot this week, bellowing 'Two dogs, one bone: best practice equals starter!'
Elsewhere, Justin Worley took the opening snaps at quarterback for the Vols. He was followed first by Riley Ferguson and then fellow freshman Joshua Dobbs. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman was on the practice field with his right arm in a sling following surgery Monday on his throwing hand. Peterman will be out a minimum of four weeks per his head coach.
Both Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane got first-team work at tailback in the early portion of practice, while Mack Crowder got some early run at center with James Stone hustling back from some family matters in Nashville.
Defensively, the Vols deployed a slightly different look in the secondary. Cam Sutton and Michael F. Williams opened early at the cornerback spots while Justin Coleman was the Vols' starting nickel. The safeties remained Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil.
Curt Maggitt was again dressed in full uniform and participated in individual drills during the first portion of practice. Ryan Jenkins returned to perform some drills with the wide receivers but then headed to the 'black hole' for conditioning.
Donning green, non-contact jerseys were: Johnathon Johnson, Cody Blanc, Vincent Dallas, Max Arnold, Randolph, Jones, Raiques Crump, John Propst and freshman tight end A.J. Branisel.
VolQuest.com will tweet and post notes immediately following today's post-practice comments --- and will do so each day of practice. Additionally we will have a variety of content items this evening, more Wednesday including the matchup piece and recruiting roundup and have podcast and predictions on Friday. Staff twitter handles are: @VolQuest_Rivals, @VolQuest_Paul, @VolQuest_Rob, @AustinPriceless, @John_BriceVQ and special contributor @GrantRamey.