Head coach Phillip Fulmer suggested as much following Tuesday’s practice at Haslam Field, singling out defensive tackle Demonte Bolden as one of the heralded ’05 recruits who has not lived up to his press clippings.
“Demonte Bolden was terrible in the last scrimmage,” Fulmer said, referring to last Saturday’s workout at Neyland Stadium. “He watched the film and was shocked. He came out here today and did the little things to try to get better.”
The head coach believes his 2005 signing class has plenty of talent. What it lacks is consistency. That had the low-key Fulmer unusually animated on Tuesday evening.
“You can’t be up and down,” he said, the frustration evident in his voice and his face. “That just drives you nuts as a coach. You’d rather coach a guy that’s average all the time than a guy that’s good one day and crappy the next. Just let me know what I’ve got to coach … certainly from an effort standpoint.”
How fired up is Fulmer? Well, he disdained his favorite word – heck – in favor of something a little stronger while discussing the staff’s attempts to light a fire under some underachieving Vols this spring.
“We’re just battling like hell – pushing and shoving and doing everything we can – to get ‘em to understand they’re going to get hit in the mouth when the play against Cal and Air Force and Florida and Georgia and so on and so on,” he said.
Not all of the underachieving players are youngsters. Fulmer hinted that some of the veterans are giving less than 100 percent, as well.
“There are some guys out here who think they’re going to get to play by osmosis and seniority, and it don’t happen that way,” he said.
The coach conceded that there are “some guys really trying to respond, so it’s not all negative at all.” Seconds later, however, he went off on another mini-rant.
“You talk about having the No. 1 recruiting class the year before last,” he said. “Hey, it’s time you show if you’re really No. 1 and you’re going to play.”
After a brief pause, he qualified a bit:
“Some of those guys. Not all of ‘em.”
If the players ever get as fired up as their coach, Tennessee could be hard to handle next fall.