TB Cedric Houston

2002 Statistics

Coach: Phillip Fulmer
103-25, 11 years
2002 Record: 8-5
at Georgia LOST 13-18
at South Carolina WON 18-10
at Mississippi State WON 35-17
at Vanderbilt WON 24-0
Maryland LOST 3-30

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

For Tennessee, which opened 2002 ranked fourth nationally, the 2002 season was a cruel aberration. Injuries, mistakes, and plain bad luck were their doom. The dispirited and disappointed group, eventually blown out by Maryland in the Peach Bowl, literally bore no resemblance to the confident and powerful Volunteers of August.

Phil Fulmer has had some of his best years as a coach with teams that were overlooked. Fulmer will have his work cut out in 2003. The first task of the Vols' coaching staff is to rebuild the team's confidence and work ethic.

Casey Clausen bore a great deal of criticism last season and will be motivated to turn in a top-notch showing in his senior year. There will be no excuse for Clausen if he does not come/go out with a bang. His leadership skills are one wild-card dimension not yet factored. Defenses will need to beat him for 60 minutes to win. This team has underdog written all over it. Opponents should be weary of a team that has "nothing to lose" - Clausen will let it all hang out every game.

The Vols are loaded on offense, where the departure of Kelley Washington may prove the old adage about addition by subtraction (like when Manning left and they won a national title). Washington's I-me-mine attitude and unbridled cockiness rubbed many teammates the wrong way. Jonathan Wade lacks Washington's physical talent, but has more than enough ability to be an outstanding SEC receiver and as a motivating teammate.

The run-defense could be a problem. The departure of so many starters in the front seven means that the team's play against the run - which was decent, but not great, in 2002 - should worsen in 2003. John Chavis can only hope that his young players grow up quickly to prove us all wrong. The ability and talent are there, but the tests they will go through are not all passable. The LBs are key to any defensive success - the down-linemen just have to occupy a helmet until the LBs (and 8th man) can finish. It can work, but whether it will is a better contemplation.

The 2003 schedule will prove more difficult, with trips to Auburn, Alabama, Florida, and Miami. Georgia comes in with their rebuilt O-line and looks beatable, nothing nice to have to actually prove. Early non-conference home tilts with Marshall and Fresno State will instantly test and reveal the worth of the Vol's revampings.

At least one loss will come down to special teams. But both sides of the line will ultimately be responsible in hindsight. Overall, Tennessee will be better than last season, but the combination of defensive uncertainty and the brutal schedule suggests that the Vols will be hard-pressed to finish in the Top 20. Look for eight to ten wins from the Volunteers, a quality showing, but not Top 15 caliber by years end. But only because of their record - they may be the best five-loss team by years end.

Projected 2003 record: 9-3
QB Casey Clausen
WR Mark Jones
SS Gibril Wilson
CB Antwan Stewart
OL Cody Douglas
QB - 4.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 4.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 4
OL - 4.5 ..

Passing: Casey Clausen, 310-194-7, 2297 yds., 11 TD's

Rushing: Cedric Houston, 153 att., 779 yds., 6 TD's

Receiving: Tony Brown, 39 rec., 477 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Jabari Davis, 10 TD's, 60 pts.

Punting: Dustin Colquitt, 65 punts, 43.6 avg.

Kicking: Phillip Newman, 4-8 FG, 8-8 PAT, 20 pts.

Tackles: Gibril Wilson, 82 tot., 57 solo

Sacks: Gibril Wilson, 2.5 sacks

Interceptions: Rashad Baker, 5 for 0 yds.

Kickoff returns: Corey Larkins, 26 ret., 23.5 avg.

Punt returns: Mark Jones, 26 ret., 9.2 avg.


QB Casey Clausen
OFFENSE: Leonard Scott-WR, Anthony Herrera-OG, Will Ofenheusle-OT, Alex Walls-K, Kelley Washington-WR (NFL), Jason Witten-TE (NFL)
DEFENSE: Omari Hand-DE, Demetrin Veal-DE, Rashad Moore-DT, Aubrayo Franklin-DT, Eddie Moore-SLB, Keyon Whiteside-LB, Willie Miles-CB, Julian Battle-CB

written by Collin Mickle

Casey Clausen, the talented senior QB, may find himself thankfully playing second fiddle to the Volunteer's talented running backs. Juniors Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis make up one of the SEC's best one-two combinations at tailback. Both are big, strong runners with the speed to get past tacklers and the power to run through them. Houston started eight games in 2002, while Davis opened five.

Joining Houston and Davis in the backfield is senior fullback Troy Fleming, a remarkably versatile player who contributes as a blocker, runner, and pass receiver. Fleming deserves much of the credit for the strides the Vols were able to make on the ground. Third-down back Derrick Tinsley, a junior, is one of Tennessee's fastest players and a quality receiver (five TDs).

The Volunteers ranked seventh in the SEC in rushing offense, so there is likely to be a new emphasis on the run in 2003. Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer should make the decision to rein in the passing game in favor of emphasizing the talents of Davis and Houston. With question marks abounding on defense, Tennessee would be well-advised to play a time of possession game, keeping opponents offenses off the field and bludgeoning defenses with the 232-pound Davis, 210-pound Houston, and the 226-pound Fleming.

No matter how great (the emphasis on) the ground game, the Volunteers will occasionally be forced to take to the air. Jason Witten and Kelley Washington left Knoxville for the NFL, a serious blow to the receiver corps. But the receiving crews ability to get open will stay strong. Tony Brown, who started in place of the injured Washington for most of the season, finished tied with Witten for the team lead with 39 catches. The 6-2 Brown improved over the course of 2002 and should still get better. Jonathan Wade, meanwhile, started the last three games of the season for the injured (and since-graduated) Leonard Scott. Wade is a speedster who will stretch the field in his second season. Both will have enough experience to make clutch plays when needed. Behind them, the receiving corps is full of questions. None of the back-ups played a major role yet, but some have needed experience.

The top returning lineman is left tackle Michel Muñoz. Muñoz played at 100% after missing 2001 with a knee injury. He is destined to achieve the stellar heights his NFL Hall-of-Fame father, already making strides worthy of national recognition. Senior center Scott Wells is a team leader with 36 straight starts and more snaps than any other in burnt orange. They are the lone bright spots on this line. RT Will Ofenheusle, a first-team All-SEC selection, is gone. His most likely replacement is inexperienced sophomore Richie Gandy, who saw action in four games as a reserve in 2002. Gandy has good size but is untested. Another option could likely be senior Sean Young. Their 41 sacks allowed and 3.8 yards-per-carry average do not prove much worth in the line's overall quality. Pressure will be on them to dually open up running lanes and pass-protect - a tall order for a Vol line with this much range in player quality.

Forgive Clausen if he seems shell-shocked. After a pair of outstanding seasons, Clausen appeared headed for an excellent junior campaign. Clausen was even being touted as a preseason dark-horse Heisman candidate. A funny thing happened on the way to the Downtown Athletic Club, though - Tennessee's offense fell apart (besieged by injuries) and finished in the bottom half of the SEC in total yardage, 85th in I-A in total offense. Clausen has to shake off any ill-effects psychologically, knowing defenses will look to rattle him early and often until he keeps them honest and proves he is in control once again.


OT Michael Munoz


Returning Starters in bold
QB Casey Clausen-Sr (6-4, 225) James Banks-So (6-3, 200) / C.J. Leak-Sr
FB Troy Fleming-Sr (6-2, 226) William Revill-So (6-1, 250)
TB Cedric Houston-Jr (6-0, 215) Jabari Davis-Jr (6-0, 225)
WR Mark Jones-Sr (5-9, 185) Jonathan Wade-So (6-0, 180)
WR Tony Brown-Jr (6-2, 200) C.J. Fayton-So (6-2, 190)
TE Victor McClure-Jr (6-4, 290) Jake Finlayson-So (6-5, 260)
OT Michael Munoz-Jr (6-6, 305) Richie Gandy-So (6-5, 295)
OG Jason Respert-Jr (6-3,305) Anthony Herrera-Sr (6-4, 305)
C Scott Wells-Sr (6-2, 300) Chuck Prugh-Sr (6-3, 310)
OG Chavis Smith-Sr (6-3, 300) Cody Douglas-So (6-4, 315)
OT Sean Young-Sr (6-7, 310) Steven Jones-Fr (6-4, 291)
K James Wilholt-Fr (5-10, 190) Philip Newman-Sr (6-1, 190)



written by Collin Mickle

Sophomore defensive end Parys Haralson, a converted linebacker, has the most potential of any of the three newcomers on the defensive line. He has the ability to pressure and should anchor this unproven group and shine, regardless. Jason Mitchell returns as the starting weak side linebacker. He has some experience after starting the final three contests. As a redshirt freshman, Mitchell showed flashes of absolute dominance and should be the highlight-reel player the defense needs at its core.

With the several problems and questions in the front seven, the secondary will again be the strong link. Tennessee returns three starters from the NCAA's fourth ranked pass defense, including senior free safety Rashad Baker (torn MCL). Baker was named second-team All-SEC after leading the team in INTs. Although he will be limited in the spring, he should be ready to play by fall, taking over the leadership of this unit from top-notch departed-CB Julian Battle. There will be a little drop-off.

Coaches will probably scheme their coverages to provide the corners with help. The Volunteers have that luxury because of the presence of senior Jabari Greer at the other corner position. Greer is a gifted playmaker, even if he does have a tendency to gamble. Strong safety Gibril Wilson is the hard-hitter to complete possibly the best returning secondary in the nation. This group can commit an extra helmet to the box and still remain effective, disguising their intentions in nickel-packages to impose flexibility with run-blitzes, 3-deeps, etc. But five DBs bait the offense into running more, and this group needs to be ready to help in that department BIGTIME. This should happen, but the DBs are then to be the team's leading tacklers, a problem. (see below).

The uncertainties begin up front. Tennessee bids farewell to three starters on the line. The lone returnee - junior end Karlton Neal - missed four games with a knee injury. The newcomers are an inexperienced trio. Haralson will be strong, as noted. Senior tackle Mondre Dickerson played both end and tackle but will have to bulk up (from his current 265 pounds) to be a presence inside. The competition to replace Moore at defensive tackle is wide open, but none of the candidates have much experience. Senior Terriea Smalls, a former offensive lineman, will compete with redshirt freshmen LaRon Harris, Matt McGlothlin and Justin Harrell.

Although the linebacking corps returns four players who started at least one game at linebacker, the quartet is unset position-wise. Peace started five games at middle linebacker until he broke his foot. Peace is unlikely to be at full strength for spring practice, possibly opening an opportunity for another willing candidate, who will be the first-teamer in Peace's absence. Burnett is expected to be back (torn ACL) to full speed. If he suffers a setback in the rehabilitation process, Kevin Simon could take his place. Simon is also recovering from a broken ankle, but is expected to participate in spring drills. These players will be the key to any defensive balance, and therefore all-important to the entire team's performance. If they can run-stop, this secondary will have opponents grounded so that success is then attained.

The defense was even more affected by the injury bug than the offense, yet still played well, ranking second in the SEC in total defense and third in scoring defense. If Tennessee repeats close to those numbers, defensive coordinator John Chavis should try walking on water.


FS Rashad Baker


Returning Starters in bold
DE Constantin Ritzman-Sr (6-4, 265) Parlys Haralson-So (6-2, 240)
DT Mondre Dickerson-Jr (6-5, 265) Justin Harrell-Fr (6-4, 300)
DT Greg Jones-So (6-6, 300) Matt McGlothlin-Fr (6-0, 280)
DE Karlton Neal-Jr (6-4, 255) J.T. Mapu-So (6-3, 265)
SLB Jason Mitchell-So (6-1, 220) Kevin Simon-So (5-11, 225)
MLB Robert Peace-Sr (6-3, 235) Marvin Mitchell-So (6-3, 230)
WLB Kevin Burnett-Jr (6-3, 235) Jason Mitchell-So (6-1, 220)
CB Antwan Stewart-Fr (6-0, 180) Jason Allen-So (6-2, 200)
CB Jabari Greer-Sr (5-10, 175) Robert Boulware-So (5-10, 185)
SS Gibril Wilson-Sr (6-1, 190) Brandon Johnson-So
FS Rashad Baker-Sr (5-11, 185) O.J. Owens-Jr (6-0, 205)
P Dustin Colquitt-Jr (6-2, 196) John Henderson-Jr (6-0, 220_




Not even kicker Alex Walls could escape the injury epidemic last season. Walls was slowed by a leg injury all season, which took away much of his power and made him ineffective from farther than 40 yards (3-for-7). Senior Philip Newman was the Vols' kickoff specialist in his first season after transferring from Georgia Tech. Newman must now take over placekicking duties, which could be a problem. He was 4-for-8, the first attempts of his college career.

No such problems exist at the punting position, where senior Dustin Colquitt will look to build on being selected second-team all-conference. Colquitt had 22 kicks downed inside opponents' 20-yard lines.

With Larkins, the former kick returner, moving into the starting lineup on offense, Derrick Tinsley is his likely replacement. Mark Jones will need to improve his 9.2 yard average to remain the punt returner. Statistically, the Volunteers' coverage units were poor, allowing 9.8 yards per punt return and 20.6 per kickoff. However, this showing can be excused by the injury epidemic, which forced special teams players into the rotation on defense, weakening coverage teams.


QB Casey Clausen had a slick performance this spring, congruent to his "Ice Man" image. He was fairly consistent throughout spring drills and made strides in his decision-making and precision- something that seemed to lack a year ago… WR Mark Jones made a brilliant transition from safety to receiver this off-season, highlighted by a 4 catch, 152-yard spring game performance. Jones has been the main target all spring and will head into fall camp as the #1 receiver. Fulmer says he will not stray from the defensive side of the ball, however, noting that he is too valuable to erase from the secondary. Another WR for Vol fans to get excited about is sophomore Chris Hannon… Fulmer also spoke the praises of OT/OG Cody Douglas, saying he likely will be the next in the great line of O-linemen to come from Knoxville… The Vols have arguably the BEST slew of running backs in the nation, evidenced by a fierce three-man competition in the backfield. Houston, Riggs, and Davis all ran well this spring and will give the Vols' offense a big boost - assuming they can stay healthy.

SS Gibril Wilson has taken charge of the defense during spring sessions, intercepting a few passes in various scrimmages and really helping to take away the middle of the field. CB Antwan Stewart has made the most progress this spring, sharing the award for most improved defensive player (with DE Jason Hall). We also see big things coming from JUCO transfer DB Brandon Johnson…OLB Ovince Saint Preux had the most distinguishing spring game defensively, accounting for ten tackles for the "backups" squad. He has moved over from DE to LB to help bring an outside pass rush. JUCO transfer Joe Poe has made his presence felt at LB this spring, as did Omar Gaither. Defensive coordinator John Chavis will be working with a full cupboard. Depth should NOT be a problem this fall.

James Wilhoit had the more productive spring, and therefore was used more often in the spring game. That's not to say that Newman won't be given his chance on longer field goals, as he appears to have the stronger leg. Wilhoit has shown more consistency. Corey Larkins and Derrick Tinsley will get the nod at KRs, but the Vols, honestly, have quite the bevy of return men to choose from. Jones will handle punts, with help from Larkins and possibly Greer.