On the heels of "Fundamental Tuesday," Tennessee returned to Haslam Field for "Tough Thursday" as the Vols logged their 10th practice of spring camp with hundreds of high school coaches on hand for Butch Jones' annual coaching clinic, which runs through Saturday.
With far more spectators than the previous nine practices, Jones ushered his Vols into intense early battles. Dimarya Mixon tangled with Ray Raulerson in an early circle-of-life showdown in which Mixon gained leverage and drove Raulerson back. Called on for the second of three-straight times, Mixon battled Kyler Kerbyson with the Vols' junior offensive lineman getting the better of the freshman Mixon. The final battle featuring Mixon saw him again initially meet the challenge from Marcus Jackson before Jackson, a redshirt junior, gained the final edge.
Jordan Williams and Dylan Wiesman battled to a virtual standoff.
In one-on-one battles, Jason Croom had the offensive highlight on a catch from Justin Worley while rookie Emmanuel Moseley made a fine defensive play to break up a Josh Dobbs-to-Marquez North fade into the end zone. Von Pearson elicited a pass interference penalty on Malik Foreman when Pearson beat Foreman on in inside slant at the goal line.
Jones then went directly into a modified offense versus defense scenario from the 8-yard line. It was three offensive players trying to score on the same number of defenders, with the offense scoring on three of its four possessions. Only once, however, did the offense score on its first snap --- Alden Hill bulling into the end zone from 8 yards away.
Following the unit's second consecutive TD, Jones implored "another soft group" of defenders take the field. That's when the unit got its lone stop in the drill.
There were a pair of Corey Vereen-versus-Dontavius Blair battles, with Vereen easily besting Blair around left end on the first one before moments later Blair protected his quarterback and shoved Vereen well behind the play. Coleman Thomas also had a nice win in thwarting an attempted pass rush in the same drill.
The Vols continued to work a bevy of players on kickoff return, with Pearson, North, Foreman, Josh Malone, Devrin Young and a couple of others getting reps.
Zach Azzanni then appeared to introduce yet another new drill to the wide receivers, with the receivers coach making his charges work essentially on jump-ball drills designed to make a receiver high-point the football. Azzanni lobbed footballs to a receiver who was surrounded by multiple other wideouts charged with playing the role of defensive back attempting to break up the pass. Pearson, Croom, North and Malone all had some nice catches, but no wideout was perfect in the drill.
Jakob Johnson, the freshman midtermer who's been working at second-team linebacker, also got some situational looks at defensive end.
VolQuest.com will provide daily Quick HiTs from each of the Vols' spring practices. Additionally, we'll have in-depth videos, stories and analysis as well as updates on the message board and via staff twitter handles, which are as follows: @Brent_Hubbs; @VolQuest_Paul; @John_BriceVQ; @GrantRamey; VolQuest_Rob; and @VolQuest_Rivals.