RB Arian Foster

2007 Statistics

Coach: Phillip Fulmer
147-45, 16 years
2007 Record: 10-4
at California LOST 31-45
at Florida LOST 20-59
at Mississippi State WON 33-21
at Alabama LOST 17-41
at Kentucky WON 52-50 (4OT)
vs. Louisiana State LOST 14-21
Wisconsin WON 21-17

2007 Final Rankings
AP-12, Coaches-12, BCS-16

2008 Outlook

Many who follow this sport over long periods of time have wondered what recently happened in Knoxville. A fixture in the final AP Polls every year during the ‘90’s – peaking out from ’95-’99 as they finished No’s. 3, 9, 7, 1, and 9, respectively, in a decade they finished 98-22-2 (.803 winning percentage) regular season and 6-4 in 10 consecutive bowl trips – the last eight years since then reflect a 71-31 result (.696%), a 3-4 bowl record and only five Top 25 AP finishes. By many standards, this isn’t anything to bitch about, especially in the modern days of recruiting parity and first-rate speed throughout even the smallest of FBS schools. With all due respect, what may pass for success for upstarts like Cincinnati, Houston and Tulsa doesn’t come close to making the grade up here in the Smokies. Here since 1992, Philip Fulmer is the longest tenured coach (on the same team) in the league (sixth longest in the nation), but rumors of the modern game passing this ’72 alum by won’t be the reason anymore for talk of his departure.

Fulmer secured Dave Clawson as his new offensive coordinator this past off-season, ostensibly to put some of the “spread” innovations of Clawson’s into action here. Clawson is part of the QB auditions, but he is flexible in that it doesn’t matter which candidate wins. Clawson and Fulmer have three sizable hurlers from which to choose, two of whom have worthy feet (though neither Crompton nor Coleman is a true burner) and another, Stephens, who is a pure drop-back type. So, to help them learn the huge amount of info required to be the starting QB, much of what we will soon see has already been put into motion so that the eventual starter will be in front of the proverbial eight-ball come August. Fulmer referred to the offense Clawson has put in as "a west-coast offense.'' Most know this is a hybrid of a two-back approach with the newer spread looks, with execution, TEs/FBs, subtleties and match-ups being key for the system to work. Crompton or Coleman will work best; a running QB opens up exponential possibilities for what the playbook can do. Foster and Hardesty are likely to get the bulk of the carries, though, some ground parity will be seen with more reverses and other carries by wide-outs marbled in to keep LBs guessing. This is a wait-and-see sequence, but the QBs are good enough to make us think the chosen signal-caller will have his feet underneath him come September. The continuity within the receivers and OL will guarantee this.

The steady decline on D has to be a focal point for fixing any loose ends. DC Chavis gets a nearly complete secondary returning; off-season shifts meant only one starter was back last year, hence their poor showing. The LBs flip two starters, meaning the new DEs also have their work cut out. Fulmer has gotten better results at times over his 17 years when his team looks marginal, so we know enough to point out the obvious and then let Fulmer’s Vols fill in the season’s blanks with their destiny. Expect big things from the Tennessee stoppers, regardless of how much better their rivals may seem on paper.

What the Gators and Bulldogs bring to the 2008 table will test this defense, and with the major part of the schedule coming in the first six games, we will know by the end of October if this team can compete for their SEC half and/or a BCS bid. The game with UCLA looks interesting – the Volunteers last two trips to the western time zone both resulted in losses. It’s the kind of slate that will either vault UT into the top 10 quickly, or sink them into oblivion, like we saw in 2000, ’02 and last year, only to then climb back to prominence. The second-winningest program in SEC history carries itself with a real pride, but what we will soon see won’t remind many of the Tennessee they’ve known for years…except for the dominant winning part. Still, while that part may take ‘til next year with the new QB(s), the flashes on display this year will signal the new era of Volunteer football that is now here.

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
QB - 3 ?? DL - 3
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Jonathan Crompton, 7-12-2, 97 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Arian Foster, 245 att., 1193 yds., 12 TD

Receiving: Lucas Taylor, 73 rec., 1000 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Daniel Lincoln, 21-29 FG, 52-53 PAT, 115 pts.

Punting: Britton Colquitt, 62 punts, 41.6 avg.

Kicking: Daniel Lincoln, 21-29 FG, 52-53 PAT, 115 pts.

Tackles: Rico McCoy, 106 tot., 48 solo

Sacks: Robert Ayers, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Eric Berry, 5 for 222 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Dennis Rogan, 13 ret., 29.5 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Dennis Rogan, 17 ret., 9.7 avg., 0 TD


DB Eric Berry
OFFENSE: Erik Ainge-QB, Chris Brown-TE, Brad Cottam-TE, Eric Young-OT
DEFENSE: Xavier Mitchell-DE, J.T. Mapu-DT, Antonio Reynolds-DE, Ryan Karl-SLB, Jarod Parrish-SS, Jonathan Hefney-FS, Jerod Mayo-LB (NFL)

Like Auburn, Michigan and other programs trying to join the growing trend of spreading foes out with a mastermind to pull the proverbial strings, Tennessee vaults its offense into the 21st century. "My basic belief is you get your best players on the field, and you've got to get your best players the ball. You can't be so inflexible that you're playing a lesser talented player because of your system. You play to your strengths." That's the philosophy of Dave Clawson, who comes in from Richmond (I-AA semi-finalist, lost to giant-killers Appalachian State) after turning that program around with his offensive innovations. He will have solutions for whoever wins the vaunted starting quarterback spot, either a dual-threat or a more traditional drop-back type. "I don't care how many times we run or throw it, just as long as we use our personnel to the fullest," Fulmer said recently after Clawson, who will also coach the quarterbacks, came on board. That's good since the battle for the top spot has a few candidates with different pedigrees. One guy who can pull off both kinds of offenses is Jonathan Crompton. Coming in as the No.2 pro-style QB in 2005, Crompton also ran it for his prep squad effectively (800+ yards and 3 TDs on the ground as a senior). His speed is decent, but nothing to build an offense around unless he's really improved, which our research doesn't reveal. Hurler Nick Stevens has the strongest arm of the three up for the job, but B.J. Coleman is the same kind of all-around guy as Crompton, and Coleman has been reported to really be thriving under Clawson's guidance. This might be the most intriguing QB race in the SEC since all of these guys are viable starters.

The superior skills of Arian Foster got him the start every game last year, and he does it all out of the backfield with his large frame and keen understanding of the game. Foster's 34 catches got him into open space, the same goal Clawson will have with his soft hands. Though they will likely use Foster as a feature back, we also expect a few more carries for the other capable prospects. Montario Hardesty is next in line, but Lennon Creer, Old Spice Redzone Player of the Year for Texas in 2006, also needs touches since he is the highest rated back to make the roster in the last two incoming classes. Fullbacks/H-Backs Holbert and Cooper are worthy ball carriers if given some touches, especially Cooper on third-down throws.

The receivers will be doing more blocking and more ball-carrying via the direct hand-off/snap. We can't be sure of this, but Lucas Taylor was a three-year starter at QB in prep, while Austin Rogers was Gatorade Player of the Year as a RB/FL (2004). These were the top two receivers last year, respectively, and both are back. Backup Gerald Jones will be back after a hamstring problem limited his freshman campaign; he was the 206 Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma as a QB, adding another aerial facet Clawson can plug in. The biggest name to soon (re)emerge will be Kenny O'Neal, the former FSU and then No.1-rated JUCO receiver who is still trying to find someone who will give him his chance. The corps is stacked and ready with experienced snarlers.

Speaking of big targets, 2004's in-state Mr. Football and Gatorade Player of the Year Jeff Cottam uses his 6'8 body to do it all (blocking kicks for the former defender would be something for which he should be tapped, too). We expect heady Luke Stocker (6'6) to also see lots of action in the complex offense. Neither TE is a super speedster (4.6 range in the 40), but they will move laterally well enough for play development and opening the deep middle. Assuming he gets his academics in order for fall practice, keep an eye out for incoming transfer Brandon Warren, a former five-star recruit who becomes another transfer from Florida State where he started at TE as a freshman for Bobby Bowden.

Guard Anthony Parker, who is good enough to make our All-American list, leads the OL. Parker took reps at center with the needs there, but he will be back at guard by August 30th. He is joined by another Gatorade POTY, Jacques McClendon, on the inside...he started the last six games to prove this line won't skip a beat. Chris Scott filled the spot McClendon took over when he was needed at left tackle, a place he will probably stay. Josh McNeil should be back at full strength after minor knee surgery kept him off the spring practice field. Parker and RT Ramon Foster are the quickest of the linemen, and the mobility of the other three will be a contingency for how much the offense can expand. What we see when the curtain is pulled back on August 30th will be, if nothing else, exciting with so many skill position players back and this experienced line to give whichever guy is under center the time to grow into the position.


OG Anthony Parker


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Jonathan Crompton-Jr (6-4, 220) Nick Stephens-So (6-4, 215)
B.J. Coleman-Fr (6-3, 210)
FB Kevin Cooper-So (6-0, 240) David Holbert-Sr (6-1, 250)
TB Arian Foster-Sr (6-1, 215) Montario Hardesty-Jr (6-0, 210)
WR Lucas Taylor-Sr (6-0, 185) Denarius Moore-So (6-1, 185)
WR Austin Rogers-Jr (6-2, 185) Quintin Hancock-Jr (6-3, 200)
WR Josh Briscoe-Sr (6-3, 183) Gerald Jones-So (6-0, 185)
TE Jeff Cottam-Jr (6-8, 260) Brandon Warren-So (6-2, 220)
OT Chris Scott-Jr (6-5, 310) Ramone Johnson-So (6-5, 315)
OG Anthony Parker-Sr (6-3, 300) Vladimir Richard-Jr (6-4, 300)
C Josh McNeil-Jr (6-4, 280) Cody Sullins-Jr (6-1, 285)
OG Jacques McClendon-Jr (6-3, 320) Jarrod Shaw-So (6-4, 330)
OT Ramon Foster-Sr (6-6, 325) William Brimfield-Fr (6-5, 320)
K Daniel Lincoln-So (6-0, 204) Devin Mathis-Fr (5-11, 150)



There will be continuity from a coaching standpoint on this side of things - coordinator John Chavis, the 2006 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year (FBS), is an alum who is entering his 20th year on the staff here. The DC since 1995, he has had five returning starters in each of the past two years, and the results since 2005 have declined, hence the Vol's recent inconsistencies on D. This year, he sees seven guys with significant starting time back.

The front seven has its obvious holes, especially at end. Senior Robert Ayers was 11th on the team in tackles and tops in TFLs (12) as an oft-used sub, so the losses are somewhat offset. Wes Brown knows the ropes, bumping outside permanently now to also fill the void nicely. Ohio's 2006 Gatorade Player of the Year Ben Martin and converted-LB Chris Walker look like real Vol ends in the great tradition seen here, so this area doesn’t look like a concern. Inside, the tackles are just as good and much more experienced than their outside brethren. Dan Williams finished seventh on the team in tackles, a great sign that this 300+ monster will demand double-teams to free up others. Demonté Bolden will benefit from this, as will Walt Fisher. Personnel turnover and the experienced guys still here should equal a better showing than allowing 164 rushing yards per game, very un-Chavis numbers.

The linebackers look experienced, but also still needing to prove they are true starters. JUCO-transfer Nevin McKenzie has bumped up nicely from safety, but size issues in the SEC will arise when 300-pound blockers can run sub-five seconds in the 40. Elix Wilson did much better in his limited showings last year; his sprinter’s speed allows him to match up well when foes spread things out and to make the tackle when the play develops into a run. These two guys are seniors, while the incumbent is a junior, All-SEC WLB Rico McCoy. Another Gatorade POTY (Washington D.C., 2004) and former Freshman All-American, McCoy has constantly gotten better each year. The backups look capable, and each had 15 tackles last year to give quality depth immediately. Watch for the No.1 LB (inside) recruit, Mike Donald, to see why he was American General Mr. Football, a HUGE honor that speaks volumes and sets the bar high for the RS frosh.

The DBs let in both more passing yards and passing TDs last year than in the prior one. Only one DB starter was back in ’07, but the four back this time assure improvements…especially when the top freshman tackler in the SEC, Eric Berry, is your strong safety. Berry, an ex-QB, is yet another Gatorade guy (Georgia, 2006), and last year’s top DB recruit in the country lived up to the hype immediately (222 INT return yards was second in FBS). Hargrave-product Brent Vinson also was a big hit right off – his rumored move to offense will have to be explored after he returns from a shoulder problem post spring, but he is a sure-thing at corner. Also out this spring was Marsalous Johnson (knee), whose speed offsets his smaller size nicely. The corners go even deeper with experience, but the safeties may need McKenzie back if an injury rash hits.

With what the SEC East competition is doing, this squad has to see itself achieving at the levels seen here just three years ago (ranked 7th for total D in ’05) or risk being a liability for an offense that is still trying to find its own identity. All areas look to be improved, but how fast and how much they can all come together to work as one well-oiled machine will dictate more than anything else (except for developments at the QB spot) where the Vols finish the season in their toughest of divisions.


LB Rico McCoy


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Wes Brown-Jr (6-4, 256) Chris Walker-So (6-3, 230)
DT Demonte Bolden-Sr (6-6, 290) Walter Fisher-Sr (6-3, 275)
DT Dan Williams-Jr (6-3, 310) Chase Nelson-Jr (6-4, 270)
DE Robert Ayers-Sr (6-3, 270) Ben Martin-So (6-3, 240)
SLB Nevin McKenzie-Sr (6-2, 215) Adam Myers-White-Sr (6-2, 215)
MLB Ellix Wilson-Sr (5-10, 225) Nick Reveiz-So (5-10, 225)
WLB Rico McCoy-Jr (6-1, 215) Savion Frazier-So (6-2, 210)
CB Brent Vinson-So (6-0, 190) Dennis Rogan-So (5-10, 185)
CB DeAngelo Willingham-Sr (6-0, 200) Marsalous Johnson-Jr (5-9, 180) (inj.)
SS Eric Berry-So (5-11, 195) Anthony Anderson-Fr (6-1, 180)
FS Demetrice Morley-Jr (6-2, 195) Daryl Vereen-Fr (6-0, 200)
P Chad Cunningham-So (6-3, 210) Britton Colquitt-Sr (6-3, 205) (susp.)




Ex-QB Chad Cunningham can handle the punting chore for the first five games without anyone missing Britton Colquitt. Net results might actually improve, which is no slight to Colquitt as much as it tells you how little this area will drop off…none. Dan Lincoln went 7-for-10 from 40-49 yards out, and we think he will really hit with his freshman year behind him. Tennessee has an advantage in most return situations with Dennis Rogan’s proven skills. Arian Foster looks like he needs more touches, though.