Tennessee’s final dress rehearsal of Jeremy Pruitt’s inaugural spring camp comes this Saturday with the Orange & White Game, but the Vols’ penultimate scrimmage provided glimpses of offensive weapons and surging defenders, per onlookers who spoke with GridIron Now.
Receiving well over 50 percent of the “first-team” reps at the quarterback position, Jarrett Guarantano connected on scoring strikes to both Marquez Callaway and Brandon Johnson – arguably the Vols’ two most consistent wideouts through the first dozen sessions.
Sophomore Will McBride also had impressive moment, consistently showing a steady hand and good decision-making skills. Both quarterbacks donned the black, non-contact jerseys and that skewed the ability to fully evaluate success against a defense that could not unload on the signal-callers.
Also apparent was solid pass protection observers explaine. The “first string” offensive line included Nathan Niehaus, true freshman midyear-enrollee Jerome Carvin, Brian Garvey, Ryan Johnson and Drew Richmond.
Additionally, Ja’Quain Blakely – recruited to Rocky Top as a linebacker/defensive end – has transitioned to the offensive side of the ball, adding definite value as a physical blocker and potentially deceptive weapon at tight end and fullback.
Latrell Williams and Trey Coleman are two other underclassmen who continue to pop-up frequently, making plays day in and day out for the Vols.
Defensively, Quarte Sapp had what two different people described as perhaps his best practice to date, making several plays and recovering a fumble.
Alontae Taylor and Marquill Osborne both opened up work last Saturday as the first-team cornerbacks, and Shawn Shamburger has continued to be coached very intently and personally by Pruitt, who is noted nationally for his reputation to develop defensive backs.
Another reality that stood out to multiple onlookers? The constant coaching and teaching from Pruitt and his coaching staff as well as the improved physicality of the Tennessee players.
“No microphones, no yelling … teaching, coaching,” said one person.
The Vols have two more sessions scheduled this week before Saturday afternoon’s Orange and White Game which includes Pruitt’s first-ever ‘Vol Walk’ set to get underway at 12:55 p.m. Kickoff is set for 2:00 ET.
(You can follow John Brice on Twitter @JohnDBrice1)
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