Tennessee shifted back indoors for its eighth session of spring camp Thursday morning as rain blanketed Rocky Top.
The biggest news was the return, as Butch Jones had indicated, of tailback Marlin Lane, who missed the first couple days this week to tend to what Jones termed some family health matters.
Lane looked sharp in some team drills, breaking free down the left sideline on an impressive run. Lane also stonewalled senior Jacques Smith on a pass-rushing attempt.
Lane and senior Rajion Neal continue to battle at the tailback spot, while Nate Peterman and Justin Worley are locked in the quarterback competition. Worley again got the early opening reps, but Peterman got some first-team work as well. Saturday's scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium will be another important step in the right to run the Jones/Mike Bajakian offense. Alex Bullard got more work at first-team left tackle today while Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson continues to be closely monitored and managed throughout spring camp. That left Marcus Jackson, who already was pushing Bullard at left guard, to continue working the majority of first-team snaps at the guard spot. The right side of the Vols' line, really starting in the center with James Stone and working out to Zach Fulton and Ja'Wuan James continued to look very sharp.
The defense continued to work a great deal from a nickel base, with Brent Brewer walking up near the line of scrimmage as the extra defender. A.J. Johnson and Dontavis Sapp were the linebackers with a secondary of Riyahd Jones, Justin Coleman, Byron Moore and Brian Randolph.
Maurice 'Mo' Couch and LaDarrell McNeil both were in green, limited jerseys and appeared to get no contact work doing individual things on the side during team contact periods.
Jones ratcheted up the energy level when he instructed the team during one-on-one individuals in the bull-ring, toughness-testing Tennessee drill. Jones opened the battles with Raiques Crump battling Alex Ellis; his most animated moment came when he declared the Riyahd Jones vs. Paul Harris battle the "soft-batch cookies" contest. Ellis has consistently worked a lot of second-team tight end, and Greg King got a few more reps at backup linebacker.
The team did extensive special teams work as well in a variety of areas throughout the practice, particularly some kickoff return, and there were a handful of notable visitors.
Area lineman Zack Stewart was in the house, as was 2015 prospect Shaun Crawford. Both players hold Tennessee offers. Also in attendance was 2014 quarterback Nick Tensing from St. Xavier in Cincinnati.
Continually elevating the energy level, Jones at one point sent his defense back to the sideline and made it conduct a return entrance onto the field for situational, live team work.
Jones bellowed over the microphone, "You've got 107,000 fans waiting for the 'Orange Swarm' to take the field, and they just went 'Ahh.' We don't take the field like that!"
There were numerous high school and area college coaches at the Vols' practice as well, but a surprising guest was former California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford.
Full coverage, including stories and videos from the assistant coaches' media availabilities, throughout the day on VolQuest.com.