Eight of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s 15 spring football practices have been completed, and now the Mocs are off for spring break.
When practice resumes on March 22, UTC will conduct its last seven sessions in a 12-day span, culminating with the spring game on April 2.
Asked about what he’d seen thus far this spring, Mocs coach Russ Huesman had predominantly good things to say about his team, which has a lot of underclassmen working with the first and second units.
“Some days some kids look good and some days some kids don’t look good,” Huesman said. “Maybe that’s what it is when you’re young, when you’ve got young players.”
The players who stood out last season — quarterback B.J. Coleman and top wideouts Joel Bradford and Brian Sutherland, linebacker Ryan Consiglio and safety Chris Lewis-Harris, for example — are still making plays. Some less experienced, lesser known Mocs are shining as well.
Here are a few emerging players who have had a successful spring so far:
n Wide receiver Marlon Anthony: The 6-foot-5 Anthony has started using his size against smaller cornerbacks and has caught nearly everything thrown his way. He’s becoming tougher and more physical, which could make him a 40-catch receiver next season.
n Right guard Nick Gipson: Taking over for T.J. Hurless, Gipson is starting to reach his potential. He started at Oklahoma as a true freshman in 2008 but hasn’t played a bunch since sitting out 2009 following knee surgery. Also worth a mention is new left tackle Taylor Dodds, who is still developing but has shown the potential to be a four-year starter.
n Tight end Sean Stackhouse: The Kentucky transfer moves well for his size (6-4, 255) and has demonstrated good hands after not catching balls for three years. He’s a big target and is developing into a big weapon.
Can you imagine Anthony, Stackhouse and 6-5 redshirt freshman tight end Faysal Shafaat lining up together in the red zone?
n Defensive end Davis Tull: The 6-3, 225-pound Tull, a redshirt freshman, has been working hard as a first-teamer. He and Dodds have had daily battles, and Tull has won his share.
“He’s not polished yet, but he’s got a lot of ability,” Huesman said.
Tull suffered a broken right hand late in the Mocs’ practice Wednesday, and he may be limited once practice resumes.
The Mocs are missing three starters on their defensive line and are using a lot of inexperienced players — and it shows, Huesman said.
“We’ve got a ways to go; they’ve got their work cut out for them,” Huesman said. “We think they’re going to be real good, but it’s just the maturation process.”
Chaz Moore has replaced Buster Skrine at cornerback — Skrine is now a likely third- or fourth-round pick in the NFL draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. — and Huesman said he likes Moore’s aggressiveness. But he has to watch sitting on routes, which can get him beat deep.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...
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