KNOXVILLE — Derek Dooley’s second spring practice as Tennessee’s head football coach begins this afternoon when the Volunteers hit the field for the first of 15 sessions.
It’s more like his first year in Dooley’s mind, though.
“I kind of feel like this is year one and last year was year zero,” Dooley said at a news conference Monday. “It was such a unique situation that we walked into last season, it didn’t feel like your first year. I feel like right now, this is year one.
“We obviously need improvement everywhere. I think every spring you want to come in and improve fundamentally at every position. You want to improve in the schematic knowledge that the players have; you want to improve in the intangible values that we build our program on; and you certainly want to start building a team dynamic, which this year will be very different than last year from that standpoint.”
Dooley’s main goal for his young team is for the freshmen who made significant contributions in his first UT season to become more consistent and more dependable Southeastern Conference contributors.
“I think that’s a big jump,” he said, “from being excited about a player as a freshman and then turning them into every-down starters who can help you compete for a championship. That’s probably our biggest challenge for the spring.”
Brewer to practice
One of UT’s missing starters at safety will be back for spring practice, and the Vols got positive news on the other.
Dooley reinstated strong safety Brent Brewer on Monday after he had been suspended following his arrest on a charge of a domestic assault in February. Brewer was placed on judicial diversion for the lesser charge of offensive touching, and his case will be dismissed in September, his attorney Don Bosch said in a release.
“He has served a five-week suspension from all team activities,” Dooley said. “There’s still some other internal disciplinary measures taken. It was a learning lesson for Brent, a learning lesson for all the members of our team. It was very unfortunate what happened.”
Dooley also addressed the status of free safety Janzen Jackson, who withdrew from UT for the spring semester for personal reasons.
“He seems to be managing his life well right now,” he said. “[He’s] on pace to come back, but that’s day to day and month to month.”
In other roster news, defensive tackle Montori Hughes has been suspended for the first two practices this week for violating team rules, and offensive lineman Daniel Hood has been moved to defensive tackle.
Linebacker Herman Lathers (right shoulder surgery), offensive lineman Marques Pair (ACL surgery), defensive end Ben Martin (Achilles’) and quarterback Nash Nance (foot surgery) all will be unavailable for some or all of spring practice.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrownTFP.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...