KNOXVILLE — Vincent Dallas had to dust off the offensive playbook over the weekend.
The Tennessee sophomore's defensive-back experiment is over after a three-month run.
The Volunteers moved Dallas back to receiver last Friday, and he quickly shook off the rust during practices Sunday and Monday.
"It's like I never missed nothing," he said after Monday morning's workout.
With the Vols signing four freshmen and touted junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson, Dallas became expendable at wideout even after the offseason transfers of DeAnthony Arnett and Matt Milton. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound Georgian started working in the secondary at the onset of the summer program.
He was a two-way player at Ellenwood's Cedar Grove High School, and Rivals and ESPN classified him as an athlete.
Yet the injuries to freshmen Alton Howard (foot) and Jason Croom (hamstring), who returned but was limited at practice Monday, and the departure of Da'Rick Rogers meant the Vols needed Dallas more at receiver. He didn't crack the two-deep depth chart on defense.
"It was our idea," coach Derek Dooley said. "All of a sudden we got thin at wideout. That's what he was, [and] he's got a chance to play for us. He's done really good. He's really excited, I think, for it."
How much Dallas will factor into Tennessee's Friday night opener against North Carolina State remains to be seen. Despite playing in 11 games as a freshman, Dallas caught just three passes for 37 yards. His biggest impact was as a perimeter blocker.
"It helped me a lot," Dallas said of the experience. "I knew my role. I'm always willing to help my team and do whatever I can to get that 'W.'"
Aside from senior Zach Rogers and Justin Hunter, who tore a ligament in his knee two games into last season, the Vols are counting on newcomers at receiver against N.C. State. Yet even without Da'Rick Rogers, it doesn't appear Tennessee's plan will change dramatically.
"I don't think it's extra pressure [on the run game]," Dooley said "We were going to throw it whether we have experience or not. We like our guys, so that's not going to change our plan."
Now that plan includes Dallas.
"I just want to play, really, and just get out on the field and compete and do what I can to help my team," he said. "I'm real excited about this opportunity. I thank Coach Dooley every day for this opportunity he just gave me."
The injury bug struck Tennessee's freshman class again over the weekend.
LaTroy Lewis, who was listed as the backup at Sam linebacker, suffered a "noncontact" torn anterior cruciate ligament and is out for the season. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Ohio native broke a bone in his foot the second game of his senior year at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron.
The Vols already are down two inside linebackers in freshman Kenny Bynum (torn ACL) and redshirt freshman Christian Harris, who is more than four months into recovering from his own torn ACL.
Dooley suggested Willie Bohannon's role as Tennessee's fifth linebacker likely expands with Lewis out since the fifth-year senior can play both outside linebacker positions.
Freshman kicker George Bullock broke his leg on a collision in practice and is out for the year. Due to the 105-player limit, backup kicker Derrick Brodus was not with the Vols for training camp. The hero from last year's Middle Tennessee State game is Tennessee's No. 2 behind Michael Palardy.
"Brodus wasn't in camp not because we didn't believe in him, and I told him that," Dooley said. "We wanted to see where George was, but Brodus has come back and I don't have any qualms about putting him in the game. I really don't.
"I think he's kicking really well. It's not the fraternity guy on the couch anymore. He's a bona fide kicker."
VFL head hired
Dooley announced Monday that he'd hired former Tennessee offensive lineman Antone Davis to replace Andre Lott as the Vol for Life program coordinator.
Davis started for the Vols as a sophomore in 1987 and was the eighth overall pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1991 NFL draft. He started 87 games during his seven-year pro career with Philadelphia, Atlanta and Green Bay.
"He fit all the criteria we were looking for and in addition was really enthusiastic about the opportunity," Dooley said. "We're trying to get that program to grow it not just to positively influence the guys on our team, but also better connect our lettermen. I'm hoping he'll do that, too."
Davis' most recent claim to fame was his stint on the NBC reality show "The Biggest Loser." He applied for the show at 476 pounds and weighed in at 202 on the finale of the show's 12th season. A year later he's now working for his alma mater.
"Just an impressive person, obviously a great player at Tennessee, had a long NFL career and really turned what could have been a real negative situation in his life to a positive and was able to be an ambassador for Tennessee for a while," Dooley said. "He's excited, and hopefully he's going to have a real positive effect on a lot of the guys on our team. I think he will."
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 ...