Deep into the UT depth chart
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Derek Dooley had to ask the media if he was coming off as edgy while he answered questions after Monday’s practice at Haslam Field. The Tennessee coach wasn’t edgy, he was just tired of answering questions about a depth chart that had yet to be released.
“I’m not sure how many times I can dance around before you all figure out I’m not telling you who our starters are,” Dooley said Monday.
Dooley can put his dance on hold, at least for the time being. Tennessee will release it’s initial depth chart this morning when the Vols get back to the practice field and start game preparations for North Carolina State. Until then, here’s my best guesses as to who exactly will fill out the two-deep line up:
Quarterback — The most important position on the depth chart is the most obvious starter: Tyler Bray, despite his summer fun with beer bottles, golf balls and jet skis. Only injury will keep Bray off the field. Sophomore Justin Worley is the clear No. 2.
Running Back — Rajion Neal has separated himself from the pack in fall camp as the No. 1 option in the backfield. A strong camp from former Bearden High School standout Devrin Young should have him listed as a co-No. 2 alongside Marlin Lane.
Fullback — The depth chart at both full back and tight end will be made up mostly of H-backs (a combination player who is used as both a full back and a tight end). The first two on the list at fullback should be Ben Bartholomew and Justin King, in that order.
Tight End — Mychal Rivera is the clear No. 1 as long as he’s healthy. It’s anyone’s guess behind him. Injuries in camp has depleted the position, but H-backs Bartholomew and King should be next on the depth chart until Brendan Downs recovers from a dislocated patella.
Receivers — Juniors Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers are locks as starting wideouts. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson will be the third receiver on the field in three receiver sets. Zach Rogers and walk-on Jacob Carter should see time in four-wide sets.
Offensive Line — The first five has been together all camp (and received high praise from both the coaching staff and the running backs, too): Antonio “Tiny” Richardson at left tackle; Dallas Thomas at left guard; James Stone at center; Zach Fulton at right guard; Ju’Wuan James at right tackle. Utility lineman Alex Bullard would be the first man off the bench in case of injury. Bullard played center last year and has worked at both guard and tackle in camp.
Defensive Line — The Vols have worked an all-junior college transfer defensive line in camp. Left end has been Darrington Sentimore, nose tackle has been Daniel ‘Big Dan’ McCullers and right end has been Maurice Couch. Behind those three should be ends Corey Miller, Steven Fowlkes and Marlon Walls. Daniel Hood will see time at nose tackle along with McCullers.
Linebackers — Curt Maggitt (left outside), A.J. Johnson (left inside) and Herman Lathers (right inside) are clear starters. Jacques Smith should be No. 1 at the fourth linebacker (the ‘Jack’ position). Backups should include Channing Fugate, Willie Bohannon, Christian Harris and Jordan Williams.
Defensive Backs — Byron Moore said Monday he’d been moved to a starter at safety, probably beside Brian Randolph. Prentiss Waggner will start at right corner. Justin Coleman should be on the left corner. Marsalis Teague has run with the first teamers at corner, too.
Grant Ramey is a sports writer at The Daily Times. He can be reached at grantr@thedailytimes. You can follow him @TDT_Sports