KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Justin Worley took snaps with the first team as the official starting quarterback on Friday morning.
WORLEY CONTINUING TO LEAD
Fall camp competition has been nothing new for Justin Worley also earned his previous starting quarterback role out of a four-man training camp race in 2013.
In his first practice today since officially being named Tennessee's 2014 starting quarterback, Worley is continuing to show the physical improvements and the leadership qualities for which coach Butch Jones wanted to see.
"I thought Justin [Worley] came out and had a good day at practice," said Jones. "You know, when you look at his body of work, also I think we seem to forget that in games last year that he started and finished, he went 4-2."
Despite Jones' recent theme of the `past being the past', the head coach also pointed out that Worley's proven ability to lead in the past was a deciding factor in appointing him the starting quarterback this year.
"I'll continue to say it in terms of a starting quarterback, it is a lot like a starting pitcher in baseball," said Jones. "It's your win-loss record. That's the most important thing with a quarterback, is leading your team to victory and doing whatever it takes to get the victory."
On the 15th day of Vols Camp, the fifth member of Team 118 earned the right to have his stripe removed.
"Jason Robertson had his stripe removed today in the team meeting room, so that was great for him,” Jones said. "He has earned that."
The local Tennessee product began camp as a defensive lineman but was switched to the offense after the first week of camp. Marcus Jackson had the honor of removing the stripe.
"When we recruited him we knew he brought value to both sides of the football," Jones said. "He's extremely smart. He's very intelligent. He's very instinctual, and he plays with a good pad level. He was a good wrestler so that has really helped him from understanding the leverage side of things, but he's very bright and he loves football.
"He has done a tremendous job. He continues to push the older guys that we do have in the offensive line."
NEW SPOTS FOR JOHNSON, CREAMER
In an effort to fully maximize the potential of the roster, two Vols found themselves playing a new position Friday. Powerful freshman Jakob Johnson was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker, while freshman Neiko Creamer was moved from linebacker to tight end.
"We have to find the best fit, the best position for Jakob Johnson,” Jones said. "And he does bring value, because he can do some very good things, but one of the strengths that Jakob has is his ability to run. Run and hit. So we're going to move him around a little bit to an outside linebacker position - try to get him standing up more, and let him use his speed and athleticism to run sideline to sideline."
Johnson has played football for less than five years, and while his learning curve might be a bit steeper than some of his peers, Jones says his long-term potential is evident.
"Well, it's going to be all about his personal growth and development, and we knew that when we recruited him, just because he hasn't played football for a very long time," Jones said. "So the learning curve maybe is a little bit more, but he does play with great instincts, he's very, very intelligent...We knew when we recruited him that we didn't know where he would be at his first year, but we would like his body of work year two, year three, year four."
Creamer, who played receiver in high school, was moved to linebacker after arriving to campus this spring. He has been moved back to offense, for now, as the coaching staff continues to search for the "right fit" for the talented freshman.
"We're trying to find again the best spot for Neiko," said Jones. "So, today we tried him at tight end and we'll continue to see what he can do at the tight end position. But again, it's just moving him around. He may be at a number of different positions, just seeing a fit. He's a big-bodied athlete, now we're just trying to find the right fit for him."
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)