Wounded wideouts

Thousands of Tennessee football fans are doing a countdown of the days left until the Vols' Sept. 5 season opener.

Perhaps they should be doing a countdown of catches by Tennessee's available wide receivers. It would go something like this:

Coming out of spring practice, the Big Orange boasted Austin Rogers (76 career catches as a Vol), Gerald Jones (41 career catches as a Vol), Denarius Moore (25 career catches as a Vol), Quintin Hancock (18 career catches as a Vol) and Brandon Warren (10 career catches as a Vol).

That was 170 career catches among the scholarship receivers - a pretty solid total. Then the countdown began:

- When Rogers went out with a torn ACL the total dropped to 94.

- When Moore underwent surgery on a broken foot, the total slipped to 69.

- When Jones suffered a high-ankle sprain last weekend, the total plummeted to 28 (Hancock's 18 and Warren's 10). No other UT receiver who will line up vs. Western Kentucky on Sept. 5 has recorded a catch in a college game.

The outlook is even bleaker if you consider only what the wideouts did last season. Neither Hancock nor Todd Campbell recorded a reception in 2008, so the Big Orange will start the 2009 season with just one receiver who has caught a varsity pass in the past year.

Given all of the above, it's understandable that first-team quarterback Jonathan Crompton stays after practice each day to put in extra work with the inexperienced wideouts whose development holds the key to Tennessee's 2009 passing game. Often as not, they suggest the post-practice overtime work before the QB can do so.

"Before I can confront them with it, they confront me with it," Crompton said this week. "That's obviously a good thing. We're going to stay after and keep throwing. Everybody's really anxious and really hungry to get better."

Obviously, the more a quarterback throws to a receiver, the better timing they develop. They also develop a sixth sense for knowing what to expect from one another.

"If something breaks down," Crompton said, "they know I'll have the ball there and I know they're going to be there."

InsideTennessee.com Recommended Stories

  • Peyton Manning emerged alone atop yet another category in the NFL record book tonight vs the Niners, as he tossed touchdown #509 under the national spotlight of Sunday Night Football (NBC). (Photo…

  • Former USC and NFL running back LenDale White added tons of drama to what was a relatively quiet Homecoming weekend for the Trojans.

  • Here’s a way to watch football and improve your golf swing at the same time. In your living room (or on the range), practice the one-minute golf swing, as shown in this video. Set the timer on your…

  • Dr. Roto, like many others, can't believe Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (pictured above) passed for over 300 yards and rushed for over 100 yards in the same game. First time that's ever happened…

  • As soon as those winds fall off, get into the stand! I always tell people you can't kill them if you aren't out, but if you want to try and pick an opportune time – this is it.

Up Next