published Friday, September 30th, 2011

Mocs’ Veres, Allison now key wideouts

UTC's Jeff Veres kicks an extra point against Eastern Kentucky while Sloan Allison holds.
UTC's Jeff Veres kicks an extra point against Eastern Kentucky while Sloan Allison holds.
Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Extra Points

Mocs fullback Taharin Tyson (ribs) is doubtful for Saturday, Huesman said. Thomas Green likely will start in his place. ... The SoCon Game of the Week debuts Saturday with No. 3 Appalachian State at No. 6 Wofford. The games can be seen in this area on WTCI or on Georgia Public Broadcasting stations.

Jeff Veres is third on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team with 11 pass receptions. Sloan Allison is tied for fourth with eight.

Who would have thought that a few years ago? Certainly not Allison or Veres.

“No, not for a second,” said Veres, a junior who walked on to UTC as a kicker in 2008.

“If you’d have told me that, I probably wouldn’t believe you,” said Allison, a senior who started out as a quarterback.

Perhaps no two players on the 17th-ranked Mocs’ roster have transformed themselves more than Veres and Allison. Their roles continue to expand for UTC (2-2, 0-1 Southern Conference) and they could be popular targets for quarterback B.J. Coleman on Saturday when the Mocs host The Citadel (1-2, 0-2).

“It’s very rewarding and it’s something that I’m very grateful for,” Veres said. “Each day at practice I still take time to be conscious of where I was and where I’m at now and the opportunity that I’ve been given.”

The way Coleman sees it, nothing was “given” to either of them.

“They’re doing this,” he said. “They are not being given anything. They’ve earned every single thing that they’ve done thus far this year.”

Allison’s history is well known. Signed by his father, former UTC coach Rodney Allison, he started out as a quarterback, where he played as a senior for Boyd-Buchanan. After redshirting in 2007, Allison never started but played in 11 games during the Mocs’ 1-11 season in 2008, Rodney’s last as coach. His career passing numbers were modest: 35-of-87 for 331 yards, with nine interceptions and no touchdowns.

After Russ Huesman and his staff were hired, Allison was moved to wide receiver late in the 2009 spring practice. Afterward, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield urged him to transform himself into a wideout.

“I wasn’t here when he got here, but from where his body was and where he was as an athlete [in 2009] to where he is now,” Satterfield said, “it’s a huge credit to him and the work that he’s put in.”

Allison had three catches in each of the past two seasons — all three in 2010 were for touchdowns — and several of his eight grabs this season have been huge plays. He made a diving catch at Eastern Kentucky that went for 39 yards, and he caught a 20-yard touchdown pass last week at Appalachian State.

In 2008, Veres walked on to UTC as a kicker. He wanted to catch passes for the Mocs but came in as a kicker to get his foot in the door. At Independence High School in Thompson’s Station, Veres was an accomplished kicker and receiver.

He worked with the wide receivers in 2009 but mainly played on special teams. Heading into the 2010 season, Veres was moving up the depth chart — but his progress was derailed after the first game when the Mocs needed a kicker.

Veres kicked the rest of the season, going 3-for-9 on field goals with a long of 37 yards.

“It was a struggle, but I did try really hard,” Veres said.

After the season, Huesman put him on partial scholarship.

“It happened last year right after the season,” Veres said. “That was like a Christmas present to my parents. It was something I could give back to them.”

Trying really hard is something Allison and Veres are known for — thus their nickname, “Bash Brothers,” which both like a great deal. Huesman said they’ve become “important pieces” in the offense.

“They made a commitment to be good wide receivers,” he said. “They’re studying film, they’re working on their craft and they’re making plays when they get those opportunities.”

about John Frierson...

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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