Sophs Shine In Scrimmage

C.J. Fayton

Sophomores stole the show Saturday as Tennessee held its third full-scale scrimmage of the spring.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer singled out five players for praise and all were sophomores -- receiver Jayson Swain, safety Jarod Parrish, defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, walk-on tailback David Yancey and fullback Cory Anderson.

Swain caught 7 passes for 122 yards and ''had a good day,'' according to Fulmer.

Parrish returned an interception 11 yards and made several big hits, including one that broke up a pass to Jomo Fagan. He finished with a team-high six stops, including one for minus yardage.

''It was good Jarod really put himself in the mix today,'' Fulmer said.

McDaniel spent a lot of time in the offensive backfield chasing quarterbacks.

''Tony McDaniel came rumbling through there two or three times,'' Fulmer said. ''That was good to see.''

Fulmer praised Yancey's toughness after the 5-8, 176-pounder rushed 14 times for 35 yards.

Anderson, a 6-3, 270-pound converted defensive lineman, performed adequately as a lead blocker and came out of the backfield to make three receptions, one of which was nullified by a penalty.

''Cory's a good prospect ... a real good prospect,'' Fulmer said, ''He played fullback in high school, and I think he's a guy who can really help our offensive team. He brings a lot of punch to the run game and he's athletic enough to catch the football and run with it.''

Yet another sophomore who performed well was defensive end Turk McBride. He made 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and returned a fumble 51 yards.

Now for the bad news ...

The attack units sputtered, as they have all spring. The defense stopped most of the drives, while turnovers and penalties stopped the rest. Jabari Davis gained 56 yards on 13 carries but lost two fumbles.

''Offensively, we spent the day basically stopping ourselves with penalties, turnovers and bad decisions at times,'' Fulmer mused. ''Defensively, we gave up too many yards but most of the time we had the wherewithall to bow their neck and get 'em stopped.''

No. 1 quarterback C.J. Leak completed 13 of 23 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. However, with the defense using more blitzes than previously, Leak made more mistakes than usual. He fumbled a snap, incurred an intentional-grounding penalty, threw the ball Parrish intercepted and made two more ill-advised throws that could've been intercepted.

Leak's miscues probably enabled backup Rick Clausen to close the gap a bit in the QB Derby. Clausen completed 10 of 20 for 105 yards but made fewer glaring mistakes than Leak.

No. 3 quarterback Bo Hardegree completed his only pass, gaining 10 yards. Based on the limited number of repetitions he's getting this spring, Hardegree appears unlikely to challenge Leak and Clausen for supremacy.

All in all, it was not a good day for Vol quarterbacks.

''There were some good plays out of them,'' Fulmer said, ''but there's not enough consistency to help our offense score touchdowns. We missed some plays and we made some plays. We need to make the plays we're SUPPOSED to make.''

Tennessee's staff isn't expecting miracles from Leak and Clausen. All the coaches want is a guy who can make the calls, get people in the right positions, then execute the play adequately.

''Just the consistency of running the offense, making the throws we need to make,'' Fulmer said, noting that the quarterbacks incurred several procedure penalties by snapping the ball while receivers were still lining up.

''I'm sure there was 70 to 100 yards of offense that was brought back today because of penalties,'' Fulmer added. ''Those are hard things to overcome. We'll focus on that and, hopefully, be a lot better on Thursday, when we scrimmage again.''

On a positive note, former prep All-America receiver Robert Meachem suited up for the first time since suffering a major knee injury one week into preseason drills last August. Outfitted in a green (no-contact) jersey, he caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.

''It was his first live work since the knee surgery, so I just wasn't ready to turn him loose completely,'' Fulmer said. ''I thought he had a good day for the first time he was out here.''

C.J. Fayton also had a good day catching the ball. His four receptions produced 63 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, linebacker Omar Gaither contributed 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss, while safety Corey Campbell chipped in 3 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Wideout Tony Brown was held out of the scrimmage because of a shoulder sprain. Missing the scrimmage due to ankle injuries were tailbacks Gerald Riggs and Corey Larkins, receiver Chris Hannon, offensive guards Cody Douglas and Arron Sears, defensive tackle Matt McGlothlin.

First-team cornerback Antwan Stewart suffered what was described as ''a ligament tear'' that is being evaluated.

Scrimmage visitors included former Vol defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, now with the Tennessee Titans, and superstar prep QB Jonathan Crompton of Waynesville, N.C. Crompton and his family have now attended the Vols' last three Saturday workouts.

Scrimmage highlights were as follows:

• A 33-yard Leak-to-C.J. Fayton hookup on the scrimmage's opening play was nullified by a procedure penalty.

• Linebacker Kevin Burnett sacked Leak for a six-yard loss.

• Leak hit Jason Swain with a nice throw for an 18-yard gain to the 28-yard line. Three incompletions later, James Wilhoit nailed a 45-yard field goal.

• Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel roared through the line to throw Jabari Davis for a two-yard loss.

• Davis rambled 17 yards on a third-and-15 draw play. The drive stalled, however, and Ryan Fusco missed a 55-yard field goal try.

• No. 3 quarterback Bo Hardegree hit tight end Kevin Shipley for 10 yards.

• David Yancey gained nine yards on a third-and-10 running play, but Wilhoit missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. Fusco's attempt from the same distance was deflected. Wilhoit hit from 43 yards on his second try.

• Clausen hit Jason Swain for a 12-yard gain.

• Davis gained nine yards on one carry but fumbled without being hit on the next snap. As penance, running backs coach Trooper Taylor put Davis through two minutes of the ''grass drill'' -- rolling the ball 10-15 yards ahead and making Davis chase it down and fall on it.

• Clausen made a nice throw to Swain for a 34-yard gain but the drive stalled and Wilhoit came on to make a 45-yard field goal.

• Leak hit Swain for 12 yards but was sacked for a 14-yard loss on the next play by defensive end Jared Hostetter.

• Davis made a fine run of 15 yards but tried to reverse his field and was stripped from behind by linebacker Jason Mitchell. McBride picked up the fumble and rambled 51 yards before being caught from behind.

• Leak hit Fayton for 15 yards and two plays later found Robert Meachem for a 34-yard touchdown. This came against the No. 2 defense.

• An illegal-shift penalty negated a 12-yard run by Yancey.

• Clausen hit Swain on a 17-yard slant to the 15-yard line. When the drive stalled, Fusco hit a 30-yard field goal, then Wilhoit connected from the same spot.

• Linebacker Omar Gaither stormed into the backfield and made a big hit on Davis, throwing him for a five-yard loss.

• Leak hit Fayton for 14-yard gains twice in a span of three plays, then found him on a 19-yard touchdown pass. This TD also came against the No. 2 defense.

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