Talent Poole

Talent Poole

Tennessee tailback Tauren Poole thinks the Orange did the best job of drafting players for Saturday's spring game. No wonder. He did the drafting.

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson of the White team got the first pick and pulled a surprise by choosing No. 2 quarterback Matt Simms. That automatically sent No. 1 QB Tyler Bray to Poole's team.

Poole then used his first pick to select Tennessee's most experienced offensive lineman, junior left tackle Dallas Thomas. A tailback picking a blocker ... big surprise.

In the end, Poole's offensive bias showed through. His Orange roster features the No. 1 quarterback (Bray), the No. 1 tight end (Mychal Rivera) and three of the five scholarship wide receivers (Justin Hunter, Matt Milton, Vincent Dallas). Conversely, Jackson's White roster features the top two D-tackles (himself and Daniel Hood), projected first-team end Marlon Walls and six scholarship defensive backs.

Both teams are shaky at linebacker, since injuries have sidelined arguably the Vols' top three - Herman Lathers, Austin Johnson and John Propst. Also sitting out the game due to health problems will be defensive end Jacques Smith, offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James and guard Marques Pair.

Asked if he thinks he drafted the superior team, Poole replied, "Yes, I do. I think we've got some pretty good guys. They may favor us a little on defense but on offense we've got the go-getters. We've got Justin, we've got Bray, we've got Rivera. We've got a lot of guys that can make plays."

Asked what his draft strategy was, Poole replied, "I wanted to pick competitive people."

Although the O&W Game means less to the coaches than the closed scrimmages that preceded it, many of Tennessee's players view it as an opportunity to prove themselves - to their coaches, to their fans and to their teammates.

"We're definitely going to be competitive," Poole said. "It's part of our nature. We're excited about it."

The Orange projects to line up like this on offense:

QB: Tyler Bray backed by Nash Nance

RB: Tauren Poole

FB: Ben Bartholomew

WR: Justin Hunter, Matt Milton, Vincent Dallas*

TE: Mychal Rivera

OT: Dallas Thomas, Carson Anderson

G: Marcus Jackson*, Darin Gooch

C: James Stone

And this is the projected starting lineup for the Orange defense:

DE: Willie Bohannon, Martaze Jackson or Rae Sykes

DT: Montori Hughes, Corey Miller

LB: Daryl Vereen, Nigel Mitchell-Thornton, Robert Nelson

CB: Marsalis Teague, Anthony Anderson or Naz Oliver

S: Brent Brewer, Prentiss Waggner

Here's the projected starting lineup for the White offense:

QB: Matt Simms backed by Justin Worley*

RB: Rajion Neal backed by Toney Williams

FB: Channing Fugate

WR: Da' Rick Rogers, Zach Rogers

TE: Brendan Downs*

OT: Alex Bullard, walk-on Jacob Gilliam

G: Zach Fulton, JerQuari Schofield

C: Mack Crowder*

KICKER: Michael Palardy

And here's how the White projects to line up on defense:

DE: Marlon Walls, Steven Fowlkes

DT: Malik Jackson, Daniel Hood backed by Arthur Jeffery, Greg Clark

LB: Greg King, Raiques Crump, walk-on Shane Reveiz

CB: Eric Gordon, Art Evans backed by C. J. Fleming, Justin Coleman*

S: Rod Wilks, Dontavis Sapp

PUNTER: Matt Darr

* mid-term freshmen

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