Browsing Posts published by Brad Shepard

Tennessee senior defensive tackle and without a doubt the most important player on the defense Malik Jackson has a sprained knee and is expected to miss a couple of weeks of practice. Hopefully, he’ll be ready by the season opener against Montana or at least the Cincinnati game. According to multiple practice reports, Derek Dooley said Jackson shouldn’t miss anymore time than two weeks, so if that’s the case, maybe this will be a blessing in disguise and give a bunch of other players reps. We know what Jackson can do. It’s Mo Couch, Trevarris Saulsberry, Daniel Hood, Alan Carson, etc., that we’re unsure about.

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“Coaches tell me that they like my aggressive nature. I’ve always been that way. I’ve had good instincts. I’ve been catching the football ever since I could walk. To me it’s not about what’s going on around me. It’s my love and passion for the game. I live to knock the piss out of someone and de-cleat them. I love to look up in the stands and see 100,000 going crazy. It’s what I live for. It’s what I’ve always done. I’m never going to give up. I’m relentless. It’s do-or-die time every play.”


At first, it appeared to be an Alabama and Texas A&M battle. Then, even though he had a terrific visit to Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, it still appeared distance would win in the end and he’d stay in the Lonestar State. Somewhere along the way, the University of Tennessee just stuck with Van, Texas, middle linebacker Dalton Santos.

And on Friday, the middle linebacker who is thought by many to be the top inside LB prospect in the nation, spurned his homestate Aggies and committed to Tennessee and new linebackers coach Peter Sirmon. It’s easily the most important commitment of a UT class that is vital from a need standpoint — and there’s perhaps no bigger need than linebacker.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder is a dominant run-stopper and keen instincts, and his attributes led to him being ranked as ESPN’s top overall MLB prospect in the nation and No. 92-ranked player overall. He is 247 Sports’ 90th-ranked player overall and a four-star player. Scout also has him as a four-star player and the fourth-ranked MLB in the country. Rivals laughably has him as just a three-star, despite offers from some of the top teams in the country.

Santos — who first committed to Oklahoma State — chose the Vols over Texas A&M and Alabama, but he also had offers from Arkansas, Michigan, Mizzou, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and others.

A couple of weeks ago before Santos visited Knoxville, he expected to make his decision between Alabama and A&M. But he had a blast in Knoxville and really fell in love with the philosophy of Sirmon and UT defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. The potential to be coached by somebody who had just been in the NFL was a big lure — but he could also get that in College Station with Dat Nguyen.

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Before fall practice even starts, reported this afternoon that UT true freshman Devrin Young has suffered a collarbone injury in workouts and could miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

Young is a 5-foot-9, 175-pound jitterbug from Knoxville Bearden High School who was expected to return kicks and punts for the Vols this season. Early indications were that he also would be utilized on offense, trying to get his speed and quickness into space. Instead, he’ll be rehabbing an injury for the next few weeks. That may not sound too bad — that a player who **may** be in line to be a special teams weapon **may** miss a month — but when the Vols were epically bad … historically bad … returning punts last season, this is disastrous news.

By the way, this happens to the Vols every year. Though this isn’t quite catastrophic-level injury news, practice hasn’t even begun. Just watch in the next few weeks as UT loses several key players to season-ending or long-term injuries. It never fails. Go Vols!

Bray needs to cut the throat-cutting

From my seat at what seemed like Klingman’s Dome at last season’s Music City Bowl loss to North Carolina, I couldn’t see the Tyler Bray throat-slashes. From our point-of-view as couch coaches, we had no way of knowing to what level running back Tauren Poole got down on himself last year for his inconsistency. And from my bed in New Market, Ala., I didn’t exactly have a very good look at just what caused senior linebacker Austin Johnson to go into a drunken rage and start banging on car hoods in the wee hours of a morning last week.

But all of those things not only happened, but happened to players the University of Tennessee football team will be looking to for leadership when practice kicks off this week and the season opens in about a month.

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Damien Jacobs

The Tennessee Vols got a big commitment at a major position of need on Thursday when 6-foot-4, 300-pound East Mississippi Community College defensive tackle Damien Jacobs pledged to coach Derek Dooley and staff.

Jacobs — who was a three-star Florida State commitment last year before failing to qualify — visited Knoxville this past weekend with his teammate, four-star defensive end Denico Autry. Autry is thought to be favoring Alabama and Mississippi State, but his visit to Knoxville gave the Vols a shot to secure his commitment. Getting Jacobs — his roommate and good friend — won’t hurt, either.

The former Houma, La., standout played last season as the backup for Alabama commitment Quinton Dial. As everybody around these parts know, Dial is a monster, but Jacobs didn’t do too bad himself coming off the bench, amassing 48 tackles. Though UT was his first offer this time around this season, he had drawn interest from Alabama, Miami, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. He has told different services he may still visit A&M and Mississippi State, but he is a Vol.

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It's just been one embarrassing moment after another in Knoxville

Editor’s note:  Before we dive into this diatribe, I want to point out one positive: While we were away on our, er, hiatus, the Tennessee football program secured eight — EIGHT!!! — verbal commitments for next year’s recruiting class. Of course we’re not around for the positive news, but I want to point that out before I absolutely shred our AD. So, Go Vols! Now, onto the bloodshed.


It’s Life 101 — try to be successful at everything you do, and when you fail, either spin that frustrating time into a positive or keep your plight as quiet as you can. Taking steps beforehand to ensure that you’re suffering in silence when things don’t work out rather than becoming a public portrait of Fail will save you a lot of frustration.

People actually get paid to help you accomplish this. They’re called Public Relations departments. The University of Tennessee may need to invest in a better one.

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