Chaney on frosh

Chaney on frosh

Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has a word of warning for the senior running back who rushed for 1,000 yards last fall and the two sophomore receivers who exhibited NFL potential: Watch your backs.

Although Tauren Poole ran for 1,034 yards, averaged 5.1 per carry and scored 11 rushing touchdowns as the No. 1 tailback last season, he'll be facing a real fight for his job come August. The same holds true for flashy wideouts Justin Hunter and Da' Rick Rogers.

Poole had a good spring but so did No. 2 tailback Rajion Neal, who rushed for 152 yards in the first full-scale scrimmage. No. 3 tailback Toney Williams threw his hat in the ring with an impressive exhibition of power running in the Orange & White Game.

But the competition doesn't stop there. Chaney thinks incoming freshmen Marlin Lane (6-0, 210, Daytona Beach), Tom Smith (5-11, 205, Apopka, Fla.) and Devrin Young (5-8, 165, Knoxville) can have a significant impact on the rotation.

After describing the competition at tailback as "tremendous," Chaney went on to say: "There's three freshmen coming in - Tom and Marlin and Devrin - and all three of those kids will be able to get in the backfield and carry the ball.

"With the addition of those three, there's a lot of competition there, which is what we've been after. We're excited about that. Of all the positions coming in that we don't know about, that position is exciting for me as we go into two-a-days.... We'll be able to see pretty quickly if they (freshmen) will be able to help."

The three rookie tailbacks aren't the only incoming freshmen Chaney expects to challenge the veterans from Day One, however.

"DeAnthony Arnett, the receiver from Michigan, will definitely compete for some playing time," Chaney said.

Arnett is a 6-0, 175-pounder from Saginaw who might be the quickest and most electrifying player on Tennessee's roster.

Tennessee already has one freshman wideout on campus. Vincent Dallas (5-11, 185, Ellenwood, Ga.) enrolled at mid-term and performed so well in spring practice that he is listed No. 2 behind Justin Hunter on the summer depth chart.

"I like Vincent," Chaney said. "I think he's a real mature kid, very competitive. I think he's an inside slot player that can help us quite a bit."

Another freshman who benefited greatly from spring practice was tight end Brendan Downs (6-5, 237, Bristol). He came out of spring practice No. 2 on the depth chart behind Mychal Rivera.

"Brendan Downs could probably get on the field and play right now," Chaney said. "We're real tickled with him."

Still, the coordinator believes tailback and wide receiver are the two positions most likely to feature freshmen in prominent roles.

"I think the running back spot is one you're looking at," Chaney said. "And I think DeAnthony Arnett will have to come in here and play pretty quickly for us. We'll see how everybody else progresses but the fact you can play those two positions without being able to bench 350 pounds affords them the ability to get on the field a little bit quicker."

Two more mid-term freshmen - guard Marcus Jackson (6-2, 326, Vero Beach, Fla.) and quarterback Justin Worley (6-4, 195, Rock Hill, S.C.) - also caught Chaney's eye with their work in spring practice. Jackson is bracketed first-team with sophomore JerQuari Schofield at left guard. Worley is battling senior Matt Simms for the No. 2 role behind starting QB Tyler Bray.

Chaney said Worley "reminds me of Kyle Orton (one of Chaney's pupils at Purdue), who plays for the Denver Broncos," adding: "He's a mechanical type of player. He constantly wants to learn, watch videos and all of that stuff. We're real pleased. He delivers the ball accurately, and we're real excited about the future with him."

Nineteen more freshmen are due to join the mix in August, and Chaney expects most to contribute.

"We'll see as we let it play out," he said. "We're expecting all of those freshmen to come in and compete. Hopefully, they will."

InsideTennessee.com Recommended Stories