KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coaches dubbed the second practice of the week as "Competition Thursday," and the 14 newest Vols were right in the middle of it.
Competition has been a theme all along this spring with the talent infusion from January meeting the experience that returns. While the steep learning curve was something offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian expected, he said the execution still needs to improve as the new players begin to step up.
"Expected, not tolerated, but expected," Bajakian said of the miscues. "I know we're going to make mistakes. It's Spring ball and you've got nine new offensive players who are here for the first time and a bunch more who are participating in Spring for the first time. I know there's going to be mistakes but I want to see more growth from practice to practice. More growth from day to day. More consistency and performance and more consistency in protecting the football."
At wide receiver, Josh Malone has made an instant impact and is helping pick up the play around him.
"I've seen a steady improvement," wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni said of Malone. "After the first couple of practices, he hit a wall in that first scrimmage, but since that day, he's really, really come along. There's a long way to go, but boy, oh boy, you see some flashes. If he keeps improving the way he's improving, he'll be a really great player here."
The competition isn't limited to the offensive side of the ball. Though the defense returns more big names, the newcomers are making an impact there, including in the defensive backfield, where Emmanuel Moseley has made an impression.
"He's really smart, he pays attention to detail, he's really coachable, he's got a great demeanor about him," said defensive coordinator John Jancek. "I love his speed, athleticism and change of direction. Obviously he's really young and makes a lot of mistakes still but I think he's got a bright future."
Up front, Steve Stripling has been impressed with a pair of first-year players on his defensive line.
"Every rep is valuable out there right now, especially with the newcomers," Stripling said. "Dimarya Mixon and Owen Williams - it's great to get them out there. They're getting lots of reps and I'm really excited about those two young men and I think the future's really bright for them."