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March 16, 2013

First scrimmage: Nuts and bolts

With several hundred onlookers, including a number of high-profile prospects and myriad high school football coaches, Tennessee conducted its first major work inside Neyland Stadium Saturday in the fledgling Butch Jones Era.

Jones stalked the turf, barking out winners and losers over the microphone during various one-on-one drills. Jones also got highly enthused, leaping up and down with the mic at various times.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Peterman opened with the first-team offense, but junior Justin Worley likewise grabbed time with the top offense.

Peterman had a nice option run around right end in the early going, while Worley connected with Justin King and Marlin Lane had a steady early run.

The Vols' offensive line opened with, from left to right, Marques Pair, Alex Bullard, James Stone and Ja'Wuan James. Pair started in place of Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson, who is healthy but is having his workload closely monitored. Bullard has been working as first-team left guard but is being pushed Marcus Jackson, and Bullard took the brunt of a violent early collision from Daniel Hood.

Jacob Carter, Pig Howard, Vincent Dallas and Brendan Downs opened at the outside skill spots and tight end. But Devrin Young and Jason Croom also got some work with the top offense during some four-wide sets that included Carter and Howard. Later, Paul Harris got some run with Peterman at the helm. Cody Blanc had a sterling block that helped spring Howard on the offense's longest gainer of the day.

Young had a touchdown catch across the middle from Peterman from roughly 20 yards out on what was situationally a second-and-8 play.

Blanc later had a key third-down catch of about 25 yards from Worley and Neal later scored on a fourth-and-1 run against the first-team defensive line.

Riyahd Jones had about a 60-yard scoop-and-score on an Alden Hill fumbled on the exchange from Peterman.

Lane later scored on a 1-yard plunge, even as Dan McCullers snared him hard enough to rip off Lane's helmet.

Jones had his troops do sudden-change later, sending both his top offensive unit and defense back out immediately.

Neal capped that drive with another score on fourth-and-1 at the goal.

Peterman hit Young for about 25 yards when second-team offense got some work but Tom Smith was dropped for a big loss a snap later. Geraldo Orta then picked off a batted ball at the goal line and raced to the 30 before shoved out of bounds by Peterman.

Defensively, the Vols opened up front with Marlon Walls, Daniel Hood, Dan McCullers and JacQues Smith. McCullers was disruptive early in some live-team action that resulted in a couple of sacks.

Jones closed it with some interesting simulated pressure kicking situations involving Michael Palardy, Derrick Brodus, George Bullock and a walk-on. Then Brendan Downs won the day on a catch from Worley.

A.J. Johnson and Brent Brewer were the linebackers as the Vols opened in a nickel look with Riyahd Jones and Justin Coleman at cornerback while Byron Moore, LaDarrell McNeil were safeties and Jaron Toney the nickelback. Toney showed up multiple times with some passes defensed.

Brian Randolph was dressed but, like Richardson, limited. Curt Maggitt, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Justin Meredith were the most notable players in yellow, non-contact jerseys. Tino Thomas and Mo Couch were among the players in green, limited jerseys.

Wind wreaked havoc in the early special teams segments, both for kickers and return men. Paul Harris was among some of the players getting a look at returning kicks.

A good number of those projected to visit Saturday that we had in the War Room made it in this weekend highlighted by Alex Bars, Andrew Williams, Josh Malone, Rashaan Gaulden, Emmanuel Smith, Myles Autry, Nick Glass, Bryson Allen-Williams and also a few we didn't have in there including big-time Georgia linebacker Korie Rogers and quarterback David Cornwell, a top-60 player and one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

We'll have a more complete list later today once everything settled down but it was a good day on the recruiting front for the Vols.

There were also a number of the 2013 signees in town for practice and Family Day including Joshua Dobbs, Ryan Jenkins, Austin Sanders, AJ Branisel, Dylan Wiesman, Cameron Sutton, Malik Foreman, Josh Smith and Brett Kendrick.

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