KNOXVILLE – For the third time since 2009, the Tennessee football team took Haslam Practice Field for the start of spring practice with a new head coach.
Day 1 of spring practice Saturday morning marked the official beginning of the on-field Butch Jones era in Knoxville.
“I think it was a typical first day of practice,” Jones said. “I thought you could feel the energy, but we have a lot of work to do. It’s been 105 days since Tennessee has played football and I think it’s showed a little bit.”
And as if installing a completely new system on both sides of the ball isn’t daunting enough, Jones pointed out that UT missing a bowl in the 2012 season puts them even further behind for 2013 from a practice perspective.
“On top of it, we’re taking the approach that this team is down 15 practices,” Jones said in reference to the 15 practices that bowl teams receive after the regular season. “Eight of the 12 opponents we play next year had the extra practices, so every single rep counts. Every practice counts.”
Offensive lineup: There’s no official depth chart at this point in spring practice, but here’s a look at how the offense lined up when the team ran through plays during the open portion of the first practice on Saturday:
QB: 1. Nathan Peterman/Justin Worley
RB: 1. Rajion Neal 2. Marlin Lane
TE: 1. Brendan Downs 2. Justin King
WR: 1. Jacob Carter 2. Paul Harris
WR: 1. Vincent Dallas 2. Jason Croom/Drae Bowles
WR: 1. Pig Howard 2. Devrin Young
LT: 1. Tiny Richardson 2. Jacob Gilliam/Marques Pair
LG: 1. Alex Bullard 2. Marcus Jackson
C: 1. James Stone 2. Mack Crowder
RG: 1. Zach Fulton 2. Alan Posey
RT: 1. Ja’Wuan James 2. Kyler Kerbyson
Star-studded visitor list: Dozens of former letterwinners were in attendance at Saturday’s practice. Defensive lineman Leonard Little, running back Jamal Lewis, quarterback Erik Ainge and safety Bill Bates were a few of the notable names.
The coaching staff also hosted numerous unofficial visitors such as linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.), defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn.) and cornerback Vic Wharton (Nashville, Tenn).
Daniel Lewis covers University of Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga