Wednesday Practice Report

Posted Oct 1, 2003

With the Auburn game right around the corner, Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer is making his final personnel decisions for Saturday's game. The travel roster has 70 spots that need to be filled. In addition, Chuck Prugh's mystery illness has the coaching staff looking for a new back-up center.

It appears as though the Vols could play as many as four centers in this week's game. Jason Respert, Chavis Smith, and Richie Gandy all have the ability to give Scott Wells a breather if the need arises. Obviously, the staff prides themselves on teaching the players the value of knowing how to play all the positions across the offensive line. With the circumstances of this week being what they are, that ploy could pay off.

"It would be Respert, Chavis, Gandy all of them," Fulmer said. "We were prepared last week to go that route and we've had even more work this week if need be."

Prugh's health hasn't changed much. However, at this point, no news is good news.

"As of today, there were not any updates," said Fulmer. "He had made some progress yesterday, which was very encouraging. Today is basically, from what I understand, unchanged from that."

Across the line on defense, Fulmer had plenty to say about some young up and comers. Justin Harrell, a red-shirt freshman apparently isn't ready to play just yet. It doesn't look like he will even travel with the team either because of the NCAA's limitations.

"You can only take 70 and I don't think Justin is going to be ready to do that," said Fulmer. "We'll give it one more day before we have to decide that. Pushing him out here too soon could push him back for the rest of the season. We'll see."

On the other hand, sophomore defensive tackle J.T. Mapu has done an admirable job since he has moved inside on the line from his end position.

"JT has done well, he's responded very well," Fulmer said. "He's busting his rear to be a good defensive tackle, and that's all I can ask. JT didn't lift much in high school, he did most of it off of ability and he had a wrist, elbow and something bothering him all the time. He really hasn't gained the strength that he needs to yet. He is a ball of fire out there just trying to play and please and you've got to like that. I like that attitude. He'll get better as we go along."

The Vols have their final practice of the week in Knoxville on Thursday before heading south for Auburn on Friday.

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