Denarius Moore caught 40 passes for 540 yards last fall but still finished second to fellow Vol wideout Gerald Jones (46 catches, 680 yards). The pattern continued in Saturday's Orange & White Game. Moore caught 3 balls for 39 yards and a touchdown but still found himself overshadowed by Jones, who reeled in 6 balls for 84 yards and a TD.
At 6-1 and 190 pounds, Moore is bigger than Jones. He also is faster. And he may be a better NFL prospect, as well.
"With my experience coaching in The League for 12 years, I think Denarius has an opportunity to play at the next level," Tennessee assistant head coach/receivers coach Charlie Baggett said recently. "He does a lot of things well."
That's a fact. Used almost exclusively on fly routes in 2008, Moore averaged a mind-boggling 24.6 yards per catch on 11 receptions. Last fall the talented Texan incorporated short and intermediate routes into his repertoire. The result was a less imposing per-catch average (13.5 yards) but seven touchdown grabs.
His position coach believes Moore has room to grow a lot more in 2010.
"I think they all do, even the guys in the NFL," said Baggett, who coached nine 1,000-yard receivers at the pro level, including superstar Randy Moss. "You can always improve on route technique and little subtle things that you do from the receivers' standpoint.
"I learned a lot from Chris Carter and Randy Moss and those guys over the years, and I'm trying to impart some of that information to these guys in hopes it will help them."
When a guy has coached the likes of Chris Carter and Randy Moss, merely dropping their names tends to get the attention of UT's receivers.
"It helps. It helps," Baggett said with a grin. "Then when I put the film on (of NFL stars he has coached) and show them, it REALLY helps."
Whatever Baggett is telling and showing Tennessee's pass catchers, it appears to be working. Moore, in particular, looks more polished.
"I feel good about what he can do," the Vol aide said.
In addition to improving their own abilities, Moore and Jones worked hard this spring helping mid-term freshmen Matt Milton and Ted Meline develop their receiving skills.
"They're doing a great job," Baggett said, "and that's one thing I really like - players to coach other players - because they've been there and they know what's happening ... in some cases even more than I can. I like that. I think the older guys are helping the young ones quite a bit."
Certainly, Derek Dooley is pleased with what Moore and Jones accomplished this spring, capped by their performances in the Orange & White Game.
As Tennessee's head man noted Saturday evening: "Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore really showed that they're good SEC-quality receivers with the ability to make big plays."