KNOXVILLE — There was only one voice that spoke at the end of the fourth practice for Team 118.
Butch Jones addressed the media without the usual group of players going ahead after a session that he said didn’t meet the expectation that he and the staff laid out for the team.
“Everything is based on merit and today I’ll be the one speaking to the media,” Jones said. “Our players are going to earn the right to talk to the media, it’s an honor and a privilege to represent this great football program in the way we practice.”
The second practice in shells was met by the hottest afternoon of camp thus far, something Jones knew was was going to be a test of the young team’s resolve. Jones admitted that he expected there would be days like this one from a mental standpoint, but said that couldn’t be acceptable, particularly when the team’s physical conditioning was up to the challenge.
“We have to stop using youth as a crutch and an excuse,” Jones said. “It is what it is and opponents don’t care. Everything is about a culture, an expectation.”
Beyond earning the right to speak to the media, Jones wanted the team’s focus to stay squarely on themselves and moving on to the next phases of camp, from team meetings to their physical recovery. Players are also in the final exam period of the second session of summer school.
“I told you our patience would be tried and our patience is being tried,” Jones said. “I think our players are competing, we’re just not there yet in our standard and expectations. We’ll continue to work on that and develop that, but I want all their focus on that.”
Jones reminded the team and the media of the challenge that awaits when Utah State comes to Neyland Stadium in just 27 days.
“We can’t waste one single opportunity to improve this football team,” Jones said. “We’ll get better and work through it. This is a learning opportunity.”
Robertson flips to offense
Coming out of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Jashon Roberston was a two-way standout at defensive tackle and offensive guard. After three days on the defensive line in his college career, Robertson switched to the offensive of the ball on Monday, working at guard. As the Vols look for depth on the offensive line, the move gives Jones and offensive line coach Don Mahoney more options.
“Jashon Robertson we’re trying right now at offensive line, so we moved his position to the offensive guard,” said Jones. “He showed some things in practice that we liked, so we moved him to the offensive line. I tell you what, Jashon is one of those individuals. Love him to death. Always has a smile on his face. Loves the opportunity. He’s tough. He’s extremely competitive, and he’s doing a great job for us.”
Robertson was honored as a First-Team All-Midstate selection as a senior in 2013. He helped the Big Red to a 10-2 record with his play on the O-Line and D-Line with 74 tackles including 14 for a loss of yardage.
Carson departs as graduate
After three years in the program, defensive lineman Allan Carson has left the Vols. He earned his degree in Sociology this past May.
“He’s graduated and moved on,” Jones said of Carson on Monday.
In his career, Carson played in five games as a true freshman in 2011. The Oxford, Ala., native was one of 16 true freshmen to see action that season, playing in five of the last seven contests.