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VOL REPORT: Rebuilding Wide Receiver U

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Knoxville, Tn -

With just two days remaining until It's Football Time In Tennessee, the Vols are making their final preparations for Saturday night's season opener against Austin Peay.

 

Tasked with living up to the name ‘Wide Receiver U,' assistant coach Zach Azzanni knows it's all about preparation and has put his nine guys through the gauntlet this preseason.

 

"Every kid is different; I think I have an idea of how they will respond," Azzanni said after Wednesday's practice. "A lot of it is how they prepare, how they practice. I am a firm believer that it's the week of preparation that usually dictates how they will play. I have a pretty good idea of how each of them will respond.

 

"I'm looking forward to watching them play and seeing what they can do. We have prepared them; Coach (Butch) Jones has prepared them. We will find out Saturday."

 

With youth at the position, Coach Azzanni says it's still a wide open competition. The group competing for starting spots includes the likes of true freshmen Marquez North and Josh Smith, redshirt freshman Jason Croom and sophomore Pig Howard.

 

"I have nine guys," Azzanni said. "We're going to take them and we're going to roll with them. We've got to go. They've all got to play.

 

"Who jogs out there at the first snap; I don't even know what it says on that depth chart. They're all going to play. They have to. Whoever jogs out there snap one might be completely different than snap two. They all responded and no one went and grabbed any spots."

 

In addition to starters and playmakers, Azzanni is also still looking for leaders. And right now, he's leading by example.

 

"You're looking at him. I am the alpha male," said Azzanni. "We need so much more experience. We need them to grow up a little. They need to have a little clout on the field and I think once that happens you will see some leaders emerge and it may be some freshmen.

 

"I understand what it is right now. I am that guy, I am the senior, I am the captain, I am the alpha male. The problem is with coaches sometimes, we become white noise, so you need a player to police the group and right now it's a work in progress."

 

Courtesy: Tennessee

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