Defensive tackle Donald Langley, who sat out Game 1 due to academic issues, has been reinstated. The 6-2, 285-pound redshirt freshman from Germantown, Md., is expected to make his collegiate debut this weekend.
“Donald is in good shape,” head coach Phillip Fulmer said. “Donald's ready to go.”
That is not the case, however, for 6-1, 190-pound sophomore cornerback Brent Vinson, who also sat out Game 1 due to academic deficiencies.
“He still has some work to do,” Fulmer said.
Given that Tennessee has just three proven defensive tackles – Demonte Bolden, Dan Williams and Walter Fisher – Langley could make an immediate contribution at the position.
“I think Donald will push himself right into that mix,” Fulmer said. “He (already) has. He probably had earned the fourth spot going into the UCLA game, but we obviously didn't work him there till last week because we knew he wasn't going to play.”
While Langley is in and Vinson is out, the status of first-team cornerback Dennis Rogan remains uncertain because of a pulled stomach muscle.
“He's better than he was Sunday,” Fulmer said. “They think it's just a pull and he'll be fine by Saturday.”
Asked if the 5-10, 185-pound sophomore might be limited this weekend, the head coach replied, “I don't think so. I keep hoping not.”
In addition to being a first-team cornerback, Rogan is the Vols' top option on punt and kickoff returns. He returned two kickoffs 50 yards (25.0 average) and two punts 16 yards (8.0 average) in Game 1 at UCLA before suffering the injury. Gerald Jones filled in brilliantly thereafter, returning two kickoffs 76 yards (38.0 average) and one punt 33 yards.
Given how well Jones handled the return duties in Game 1, you wonder: Who gets the call if Rogan is cleared to play Saturday vs. UAB?
“We still have to decide that,” Fulmer said. “He (Rogan) would be the first (option) if he's 100 percent healthy but there's two or three other guys – Gerald Jones being one.”
Since Jones is a first-team receiver and Rogan is a first-team corner, using either as a return man poses a potential fatigue risk. Tennessee's staff is aware of this.
“Several guys had a lot of snaps (vs. UCLA), and that affects you in the fourth quarter,” Fulmer said. “We try to count those. Some we can do something about and some we can't. But we're careful.”