Through two days of fall camp the 2012 Tennessee Volunteers could be one of the more focused groups during Derek Dooley’s time on Rocky Top.
While former teams lacked leadership or enthusiasm on the practice field, Dooley couldn’t be more pleased through two days of workouts, given that the pads have been absent thus far.
"I'm really pleased with the way this team has approached these (first) two days," Dooley said. "They have a real workmanlike approach, a lot of leadership, a lot of chatter, really positive.
"I'm proud of them but, of course, the challenge is as you get deeper into camp something will be new. We'll have shoulder pads on and they'll feel heavier, it will be hotter and how do we respond to that? The good news is things are good as far as how we are working and how we are approaching it.”
Dooley also got a chance to check out his newest recruiting class for the first time Friday evening when newcomers and junior college transfers took to Haslam Field in a separate practice session from that of the veterans, even though many vets showed up to observe their new teammates.
"Last night was good," Dooley said. "About like most of the freshmen practices, so their heads are spinning, they have no idea what we're talking about. The ones that go out and play fast and don't worry about all of that always look a little better. It was good."
One of the most anticipated arrivals was that of junior college nose tackle Daniel McCullers, who at 6-foot-6, 377 pounds is the largest Vol on the 2012 roster, 45 pounds heavier than left tackle Antonio Richardson.
“He is huge,” Dooley said of the Georgia Military Academy transfer. “He has a lot of work to do in understanding the technique, understanding effort and all that stuff. He is a big guy and he has had a good attitude. Now it is just a matter of how much he can learn and how quickly he can apply it.”
And five-star wide receiver and JUCO transfer Cordarrelle Patterson didn’t disappoint in his debut in the Orange and White showing Dooley exactly what he expected, but the key will be going forward will be to maintain when the two groups combine practice for the first time on Monday afternoon.
“He did pretty good out there,” Dooley said. “He is big, fast and he can catch. He has obviously worked pretty hard the last few weeks in trying to learn the offense because he didn’t make a lot of mistakes.
“What he has got to do is get through these three days see how much he can absorb and then get in there with the good guys against the good guys and see if he can maintain that level of performance.”
Watch as addresses the media following Saturday's practice: