SEC: Demetrice Morley

Another Tennessee player departing

April, 10, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

Obviously, Lane Kiffin was serious when he said that his version of Tennessee football wouldn't be for everybody.

The Vols have now had at least seven players leave the program since Kiffin was introduced as head coach on Dec. 1.

The latest was sophomore defensive tackle Donald Langley, who joined senior safety Demetrice Morley this week on the ever-expanding list of ex-Vols. Langley had spent some time on the offensive line this spring after not making much of an impact at defensive tackle, one of the thinnest spots on Tennessee's team.

Others that have bolted or been dismissed on Kiffin's watch include running back Lennon Creer, offensive tackle Ramone Johnson, receiver E.J. Abrams-Ward and offensive linemen Preston Bailey and Darius Myers.

Some fresh faces in Tennessee's secondary

April, 9, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

Get ready to see some fresh faces in Tennessee's secondary next fall.

Eric Berry, who's been held out of contact this spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, is the obvious staple. He's the best defensive back in the country.

But after Berry, there's a lot of different ways the Vols could go.

Demetrice Morley's dismissal from the team earlier this week leaves the door wide open at the other safety spot. Redshirt freshman Prentiss Waggner and sophomore Stephaun Raines have worked a bunch with the first team this spring, but highly touted incoming freshmen Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles Jr. will both start out at safety once they arrive this summer.

Another guy making a push at safety is redshirt freshman Rod Wilks, who came to Tennessee as a receiver. But he split his time last season between outside linebacker and safety and now finds himself at strong safety.

The cornerback jobs are also up in the air.

Even though junior Dennis Rogan started all 12 games last season (10 at cornerback and two at free safety), he's not penciled in right now as a starter.

It's another indication that first-year Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin isn't putting much stock into what happened before he and the new staff arrived.

One of the surprises this spring for the Vols has been third-year sophomore C.J. Fleming, who's working with the first team at cornerback after playing very little last season on defense. Fleming intercepted a Jonathan Crompton pass in last Saturday's scrimmage.

Sophomore Art Evans is the other starting cornerback right now, and he hasn't played much, either.

The wild card at cornerback is junior Brent Vinson, who will be rehabilitating his shoulder this summer after undergoing surgery. Vinson has a ton of ability, but has been plagued by shoulder issues. He's also struggled academically and was suspended twice last season.

So at this point, it's not a certainty that he will be around in the fall.

As Kiffin has stated numerous times this spring, there's a lot of opportunity for a lot of guys in the Vols' defensive backfield.

Morley, Vols part ways

April, 7, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

In a move that most around the program had seen coming, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin announced Tuesday that starting safety Demetrice Morley was no longer a part of the team.

Morley, who would have been a senior, started at strong safety last season. He missed the 2007 season because of academic reasons, but was readmitted to school and given a second chance.

He'd already missed some practices this spring, and Kiffin hinted last week that Morley probably wouldn't be back. He also missed some offseason workouts this past winter that didn't help his cause.

With Morley gone, that means the door is wide open for highly rated freshman signees Darren Myles Jr. and Janzen Jackson to come in and play right away. Both will start out at safety when they arrive this summer.

Sophomore C.J. Fleming has been working with the first team this spring in the Vols' defensive backfield.

The Vols' All-America free safety, Eric Berry, has been held out of contact this spring while he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Lunchtime links: Tebow nearly went to Alabama

December, 5, 2008

Posted by's Chris Low

Strolling around the league to see what else is out there on the eve of the SEC Championship Game:

(Carefully) ranking SEC's impact newcomers

July, 18, 2008

Posted by's Chris Low

Selecting impact newcomers can really be a crap shoot. Case in point: We knew the kid had talent, but did anybody really see Knowshon Moreno breaking out in that crowded Georgia backfield and having the kind of monster season he did a year ago? On the other end of the spectrum, remember how junior college transfer Kenny O'Neal was going to swoop in and be Tennessee's deep threat in the passing game last year? Well, he caught two passes all season and is no longer in the program. So with a deep exhale, I give you the SEC's Top 10 impact newcomers for the 2008 season. Some are transfers. Some are redshirt freshmen, and some are true freshmen. One is reintroducing himself to the league after a year sabbatical. We'll check this list again in late October and see how many I hit and how many I missed:

1. Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss: Quarterback woes have haunted the Rebels ever since Eli Manning left. Not anymore, though. Snead, a gifted 6-3 transfer from Texas, finally gets to show off his arm, mobility and smarts in 2008.

2. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: Granted, it's not like the Gators are lacking in the offensive playmaker department. But even with Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin running around, Urban Meyer will find a way to get this speedy redshirt freshman the ball.

3. Demetrice Morley, S, Tennessee: He's not exactly completely new, having played as a freshman in 2006. But Morley is back after flunking out a year ago and will pair with Eric Berry to give the Vols one mean safety duo.

4. Chris Todd, QB, Auburn: It sounds like new Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is relegated to playing two quarterbacks early. If Todd's shoulder problems subside, the juco transfer is clearly the best option as a passer.

5. Raven Gray, DE, Auburn: Had it not been for the knee surgery that kept him out all spring, Gray would be even higher on this list. Tommy Tuberville called the touted juco transfer as good a defensive lineman as he's signed at Auburn.

6. Will Hill, S, Florida: With Dorian Munroe lost for the season, the Gators' depth at safety just got worse. Hill, a true freshman from Jersey City, N.J., and one of the plums of the class, will get every chance to start right away.

7. Jerrell Harris, LB, Alabama: Similar to Florida's safety issues, Alabama needs immediate help at linebacker. The 6-3, 215-pound Harris may be the answer on the strong side. Only a true freshman, Harris has great speed and pop.

8. Enrique Davis, TB, Ole Miss: Another new face Ole Miss fans will see early and often this season. Davis, one of the top prep school players in the country last year, is Houston Nutt's kind of back. He has power and speed.

9. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: The much ballyhooed Jones looks like an NFL receiver right now, even if he is only a true freshman. We know he's oozing with talent. If he's also a quick learner, SEC defenses had better beware.

10. Blair Walsh, K, Georgia: Take one look at Georgia's schedule, and it's a safe bet the Bulldogs will be in a bunch of close games this season. Walsh, a true freshman, steps in as their kicker and should get a chance early to show off his strong leg.

In closing: I reserve the right to place asterisks in front of the names of defensive tackle Jerrell Powe and outside linebacker Patrick Trahan, both of Ole Miss, and defensive end Gerald Williams and tight end Brandon Warren, both of Tennessee. All four are transfers still awaiting final word on their eligibility for this season. At this point, it appears that all four have a pretty good shot to make it, which would be good news for the Rebels and Vols. I could also pick three or four more players from Alabama's highly rated signing class that will have an immediate impact. Others to watch are safety Mark Barron, receiver Burton Scott, cornerback Alonzo Lawrence and offensive tackle Tyler Love. And, yes Georgia fans, I, too, am anxious to see freshman receiver A.J. Green play. One final name I'll leave you with is Charles Mitchell of Mississippi State. The state of Mississippi's top prospect last year will start out at safety for the Bulldogs, but is physically ready to play just about anywhere ... and play well.