DB Eric Berry
9-12-09 UCLA
9-19-09 at Florida
9-26-09 OHIO
10-3-09 AUBURN
10-10-09 GEORGIA
10-24-09 at Alabama
11-7-09 MEMPHIS
11-14-09 at Mississippi
11-28-09 at Kentucky
Coach: Lane Kiffin
1st year

2008 Statistics

2008 RESULTS: 5-7
at UCLA LOST 24-27 (OT)
UAB WON 35-3
at Auburn LOST 12-14
at Georgia LOST 14-26
at South Carolina LOST 6-27
at Vanderbilt WON 20-10

2008 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR


2009 Outlook

The hiring of young head coach Lane Kiffin is the obvious story for 2009 in Knoxville. Kiffin came in like a tornado, verbally dogging fellow SEC coaches, hiring a much-ballyhooed coaching staff, signing prized recruits, and ultimately getting reprimanded by the NCAA. Needless to say, a new buzz has been created on this campus which is something far removed from the conservative approach of predecessor Phil Fulmer.

This is a totally new coaching staff. To name a few...one of the better NFL defensive coordinators of the last 20 years - Lane's father, Monte Kiffin - joins his son to take charge of the defense. Jim Chaney takes over as the offensive coordinator after spending the last three seasons as an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach with the St. Louis Rams. Ed Orgeron has long been regarded as a premier defensive line coach and recruiter; he will be those same things here. He stockpiled amazing talent during his three years as the head coach at Ole Miss and as an assistant at USC under Peter Carroll. This is a solid brain trust.

So what other changes are in store? Losing B.J. Coleman now makes nine players thus far (through April) that either voluntarily left the program or have been dismissed. Obviously and respectably, Kiffin wants to coach his types of players and isn't afraid to make the necessary personnel changes. The biggest schematic changes involve the offense, and for good reason seeing how poorly this group performed last year (9th in SEC rushing, 11th in SEC passing). Look for Tennessee to brandish a more punishing ground game in a pro style set...fullback, tight end and two receivers.

Last season, horrible quarterback play and poor execution by the line made this offense hard to watch. Simplified blocking schemes and a large stable of quality ball carriers should enable the ground attack to be more successful. But unless someone significantly improves the QB play with lettermen Crompton and Stephens still sharing the snaps, UT will have a hard time against usually stingy SEC defenses. Barring a miracle here, Kiffin’s first year looks to be modest at best. If the offensive line does not start to gel, it will be another long, boring offensive season.

If Kiffin can bring in more recruiting classes like the one he signed this year on short notice, the Vols may just have something to be excited about sooner than later. This staff is stressing competition, competition and more competition within the current players units. Expect this to afford a new attitude towards the better; the old coaching regime seemed to lose touch with the excitement and competitive heartbeat in these young men.

The defense was more than fine in 2008. It's amazing to believe this was the top ranked defense in the conference with the aforementioned hideous offensive numbers, which ultimately meant they were on the field an awful lot. Safety Eric Berry, linebacker Rico McCoy and defensive tackle Dan Williams represent the best opportunities for garnering post-season awards. Defensive end Chris Walker has demonstrated all spring that he, too, is primed to make a name on the national stage now. The defense will again have to “hold the rope” while the offense attempts to prove it can keep up.

Competing for an SEC East title right now seems impossible with Florida’s and Georgia’s programs surging. The Vols are likely to get grouped somewhere in the middle with Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt...nothing new to the veteran players and their fans, but maybe something new for this coaching staff. Finishing league play at .500 is a modest-but-worthy goal and would reestablish Tennessee back on the road to seriously competing for their SEC half by 2010.

Projected 2009 record: 6-6
WR Gerald Jones
2008 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Jonathan Crompton, 86-167-5, 889 yds., 4 TD

Rushing: Montario Hardesty, 76 att., 271 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Gerald Jones, 30 rec., 323 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Daniel Lincoln, 10-18 FG, 22-22 PAT, 52 pts.

Punting: Chad Cunningham, 25 punts, 39.5 avg.

Kicking: Daniel Lincoln, 10-18 FG, 22-22 PAT, 52 pts.

Tackles: Rico McCoy, 87 tot., 38 solo

Sacks: Eric Berry, Chris Walker - 3 each

Interceptions: Eric Berry, 7 for 265 yds., 2 TD

Kickoff Returns: Dennis Rogan, 28 ret., 24.9 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Gerald Jones, 15 ret., 10.0 avg., 0 TD


DT Montori Hughes - The biggest surprise story of the spring as defensive tackle was a huge area of concern. The 312-pound former two-star rated lineman is going to be a part of this rotation.

DB Janzen Jackson - With Demetrice Morley being dismissed from the team, this five-star rated prepster has already been told by coaches he will get an immediate chance to help fill a big void at free safety.

RB Bryce Brown - Can the No. 1 rated high school running back in the nation go from playing on the wheat fields of Wichita to the bright lights of Neyland Stadium? He will likely be given that chance in this running back by committee approach.

2009 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Arian Foster-TB, Lucas Taylor-WR, Josh Briscoe-WR, Anthony Parker-OG, Ramon Foster-OT, Lennon Creer-RB
DEFENSE: Demonte Bolden-DT, Walter Fisher-DT, Robert Ayers-DE, Nevin McKenzie-SLB, Adam Myers-White-SLB, Ellix Wilson-MLB, DeAngelo Willingham-CB, Britton Colquitt-P, Demetrice Morley-FS


Three different players received time under center last year. None of them proved worthy of locking down the star role, and that is putting it kindly. In short, they were horrible. Those same three guys are back and the excitement in Knoxville that came with the fresh hiring of young NFL coaching talent Lane Kiffin quickly gets shifted back to reality when dissecting the signal callers. Jonathan Crompton got the bulk of the work last fall, and if the season were to commence this week, he would still be the first choice. Most of the first team reps have been doled out to the senior this spring, but B.J. Coleman - last season's rare No. 3 option - started to perform better and was making a great case all the way through the Orange & White Spring Game. Afterwards, he announced his intentions to transfer. Ugh! Nick Stephens started the spring handicapped by a broken wrist that kept him out of the first two weeks entirely. He returned in time to finish spring drills but was obviously hampered by the injury. Despite being a starter for a portion of 2008, Stephens has mostly been considered the second option. No one else currently on the roster has entered the competition, and not much should change heading into the fall unless an incoming walk-on or one of the current receivers can suddenly make a move under center. The Vols did not sign a QB in this year's recruiting class either. Like it or not, it's going to be the same two quarterbacks of a year ago.


The team's second leading rusher in ‘08, Lennon Creer, decided to leave the team in April. Thank goodness this unit is blessed with depth. In essence, five different guys have the possibility of seeing the field next season. Even without Arian Foster, the remaining resources are still the best set of playmakers on this side of the ball. Montario Hardesty now inherits first honors. The powerful senior with a straight-ahead running style teams with Tauren Poole; both have limited experience that has proven each can get the job done. The three biggest impact backs are all guys that were playing high school ball less than a year ago. Georgia native Toney Williams enrolled in January in order to make spring drills. Wichita (KS) native Bryce Brown and Oklahoma product David Oku were two of the top prep running back prospects in the nation when they signed back in February. Fullback returnee Kevin Cooper is a junior on a blocking mission (started all but one game last year). He will continue since the new offensive approach is going seriously max out the running game, with pro sets being the predominant base. RB is arguably the Vols' deepest unit, though, foes will predictably know that the weekly game plan starts here.


The passing game was awful last year...the second worst in the SEC and sixth worst nationally. The receivers are not exempt from responsibility for last year’s poor showing, despite their credible talents on paper. The most explosive Vol offensive player is Gerald Jones. Jones should be hauling down double the amount of catches (30 receptions last fall). He also has to be a solution for the deep passing game’s scant ability (of late) to stretch the field. This lacking dimension killed UT last season as the running game became "boxed-in" by cheating DBs. Former Freshman All-American TE Brandon Warren, a Florida State transfer, has now been moved to receiver in an effort to locate a possession type and stronger route runner. The learning curve was tough on the larger framed Warren (as expected), but this stout junior hauled in four receptions for 50 yards at the spring game to prove he’s arrived here in Knoxville. Also on the rise is Quintin Hancock emergence as that rangy, physical receiver to which Kiffin became accustomed while on the west coast. Hancock is making the tough catches and his downfield blocking has really been special all spring. The abundance of talent at tight end is well established, enough so to merit the relocation of two of the guys lower down the depth chart to help fill other needs. Incumbent Luke Stocker is a big time third-down option with his soft hands. The person sharing time at his position is best friend Jeff Cottam. Both are vets and are expected to play a major role in this new power offense.


Unfortunately, even with the iffy QB situation, the biggest unknowns are found within this line. The unit had major difficulties last season both in protecting the quarterbacks and in opening holes; the same question marks still linger. New offensive coordinator Jim Chaney also oversees the OL. His job this spring has been as difficult (or more so) as that of any other position coach. An already thin group loses both Anthony Parker and Ramon Foster on the right side, and a few key players also departed this off-season (Ramone Johnson and Preston Bailey). Shaw, Pope, Douglas, Sullins, Thomas, etc., represent the kind of untested talent with which Chaney is working. One of the improved changes with the new system will be the fact the linemen are no longer flipping sides (weak and strong) depending on the play. This should at least simplify the process, and the players seem to appreciate this factor. Center Josh McNeil is the leader and has started every game since 2006. Despite this, he is getting pushed hard by former walk-on Cody Sullins. Chris Scott has (at least) secured one of the tackle spots. Richard and McClendon have earned their share of starts. The youthful depth is the biggest concern, combined with the group’s nominal efforts of a year ago. The line is certainly still a work in progress.


C Josh McNeil


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Jonathan Crompton-Sr (6-4, 228) Nick Stephens-Jr (6-4, 227)
FB Kevin Cooper-Jr (6-0, 245) Austin Johnson-So (6-2, 234)
TB Montario Hardesty-Sr (6-0, 215) Tauren Poole-So (5-10, 203)
WR Quintin Hancock-Sr (6-3, 207) Denarius Moore-Jr (6-1, 190)
Brandon Warren-Jr (6-2, 216)
WR Gerald Jones-Jr (6-0, 199) Austin Rogers-Sr (6-2, 190)
TE Luke Stocker-Jr (6-6, 245) Jeff Cottam-Sr (6-8, 260)
OT Chris Scott-Sr (6-5, 346) Dallas Thomas-RFr (6-5, 268)
OG Vladimir Richard-Sr (6-4, 300) Cory Sullins-Sr (6-1, 270)
C Josh McNeil-Sr (6-4, 280) Cody Sullins-Sr (6-1, 260)
OG Jacques McClendon-Sr (6-3, 324) Cody Pope-So (6-6, 288)
OT Jarrod Shaw-Jr (6-4, 332) Aaron Douglas-RFr (6-6, 282)
K Daniel Lincoln-Jr (6-0, 203) Ethan Ingham-RFr (6-0, 195)




This unit is young and inexperienced. However, unlike their counterparts on the offensive front, the youth here has showcased signs of being better than expected. Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron (former Ole Miss head coach) is a big reason for the improvement, especially in the pass rush. Much of this development can be seen in the improved play of DE Chris Walker, who made enough significant noise this spring that coaches selected Walker as the most improved defensive player. The phrase "unblockable" could be heard at spring press conferences. At only 235 pounds, Walker is proving to be the most dominant player since 2009 camp opened. Ben Martin is working hard on the other side, but he has yet to develop the untapped talent into another pass rushing artist. The top surprise is redshirt freshman Montori Hughes at tackle. Hughes has been given quite a few opportunities with the first group after making huge strides since February. Tackle Dan Williams has become a rock and is proving to be of All-SEC quality as a senior. Wes Brown has slid inside from his end position. Early results are showing that Brown seems equipped and experienced enough to handle the switch after spending three seasons on the outside. He never was considered a top rated pass rusher, so the move hopefully pans out. The tackles have a great shot at being way better than expected. There is now some guarded optimism concerning this group, more than what existed heading into the spring. Only time, and better competition in front of them, will tell the true story.


Rico McCoy packs quite a punch. He is the lone returning starter in this pack, which has been weakened by the departures of Ellix Wilson and Nevin McKenzie. McCoy is a seasoned defensive star that can play any one of these linebacker positions, if need be. McCoy should be the heartbeat of a front seven that scored well statistically last season. In the Tennessee tradition, linebacker has been the home for some of UT's most productive players. When all is said and done, McCoy may rank with the best of them. A bright spot this spring has been Nick Reveiz in the middle. He stands at only 5'10, and some new coaches actually were jokingly referring to him as a kicker when they arrived. They soon found out that he plays much bigger. Find the ball and you can find Reveiz. Out of the rest of the youngsters vying for time, somebody needs to step up to complete a starting three worthy of SEC level play. Former five-star recruit Chris Donald is still teetering on the back end of the depth chart. UT signed four linebackers in this year's recruiting class, hence the freshmen and sophomores are providing the rest of the depth. Overall, this unit appears to be behind a notch when compared to the front line and secondary. Outside of McCoy, they just have not played much.


This was the nation's fourth-rated pass defense to close ‘08. The only player lost was supposed to be CB DeAngelo Willingham, but that was before free safety Demetrice Morley was booted off the team. As we now look at the season, this secondary is only likely to be great when consensus All-American safety Eric Berry is in. He was limited from full-speed contact this spring after shoulder surgery, and the difference was like night and day with him out. Berry has to be considered the top candidate to win the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award after just two seasons of play. He already boasts gleaming statistics: 158 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 22 passes broken up and 12 interceptions. He was the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC and is on course to break NCAA records for interceptions and interception return yardage. But the departure of Morley leaves a big hole now at the other safety spot, and Berry is still human. Dennis Rogan brings star quality to the cornerback position, but the primary order of business will be finding another corner to command the spot Willingham operated. Brent Vinson is expected to make a case, but off-season shoulder surgery has hampered his standing. Art Evans ended the spring with top honors, yet still has a ways to go - as do the others – if he is to help this secondary repeat with another superior performance. New secondary coach Willie Garza inherited a backfield that was to be the strength of the team, at least on paper, heading into the new year. Three starters were coming back and Berry was still here. This should still be one of the team's strongest units, but with Morley gone and Vinson now facing summer rehab, the new faces will have to be counted on much more than originally thought.


LB Rico McCoy


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Ben Martin-Jr (6-3, 239) Willie Bohannon-RFr (6-2, 230)
DT Wes Brown-Sr (6-4, 257) Montori Hughes-RFr (6-4, 312)
NT Dan Williams-Sr (6-3, 327) Chase Nelson-Jr (6-4, 292)
DE Chris Walker-Jr (6-3, 232) Steven Fowlkes-RFr (6-4, 229)
SLB LaMarcus Thompson-Jr (6-1, 221) Shane Reveiz-So (5-11, 210)
MLB Nick Reveiz-Jr (5-10, 220) Herman Lathers-RFr (6-1, 213)
WLB Rico McCoy-Sr (6-1, 220) Savion Frazier-Jr (6-2, 221)
CB Dennis Rogan-Jr (5-10, 178) Brent Vinson-Jr (6-0, 201)
CB Art Evans-So (6-1, 173) Marsalous Johnson-Sr (5-9, 184)
SS Eric Berry-Jr (5-11, 203) Derrick Furlow-Sr (6-1, 190)
FS Stephaun Raines-So (5-10, 179) Prentiss Waggner-RFr (6-2, 177)
P Chad Cunningham-Jr (6-3, 198) Steven Hensley-Sr (5-10, 177)




This will be the first time since 2000 that someone from the Colquitt family has not handled the punting duties. Chad Cunningham served as the temporary punter (five games while Britton Colquitt was suspended) and struggled early, but Cunningham continues to show steady improvement. He regularly places the ball inside the opponent's 20-yard line and gets decent hang time, but still needs work on consistency and distance (39.5 yard average). Gone are the gimmick type spread formations utilized the past couple of seasons since the coverage unit struggled in this scheme. Daniel Lincoln continues to handle the place kicking duties after a major drop-off in '08 (10-for-18 FGs). The prior year, Lincoln was tabbed as a Freshman All-American, so consistency is also a concern here. Dennis Rogan and explosive receiver Gerald Jones are still first in line to handle both punt and kick return duties. Neither has yet made a name for being a dangerous weapon.