June 2, 2009

Brunetti, Rettig shine at UT's skills camp

After watching the "big uglies" work on Monday, Tennessee's one-day camp was for the showstoppers as the skill position players went through two sessions of intense drill work, one-on-ones and seven-on-seven work.

Obviously, most eyes were on the quarterback position, which is a transparent position of great need in the class of 2010 for the Volunteers. One of the offensive MVPs was Memphis signal-caller Barry Brunetti. Brunetti threw the ball accurately all day long and felt like he showed his best. One of the biggest concerns with him is his physical size as he measures in around 6-feet tall. But that's something Brunetti feels he can't worry about.

"I don't know," Brunetti said when asked why he doesn't have an offer from the Vols. "I can't call God and tell him to make get me more height. I did the best I could today and felt like I showed them what I could do."

Another quarterback MVP was California signalcaller Chase Rettig. Rettig, who flew in this morning for the camp, was actually delayed in Dallas/Forth Worth and didn't work but the afternoon session.

Yet Rettig made up for lost time, competing at a high level and arguably shining as the most college-ready signal-caller at the Vols' camp.

"I got here late, so I didn't get to do as much as I wanted," said Rettig, who's getting increased interest from schools across the country after several recent strong workouts. "I did some one-on-ones, competed and got to spend some time with the coaches. It was good."

The third quarterback MVP was Illinois quarterback Tommy Rees. After a somewhat slow start, Rees picked it up in the afternoon session to earn the honors as he got more and more reps.

"I definitely found a better rhythm as the day went on," Rees said. "I thought the camp went really well. It was well run. There were a lot of great players there to compete with and against. It's what I anticipated an SEC camp to be like.

"Coach (Lane) Kiffin called me up to his office and was very complimentary of my performance. They said they were going to break down the tape and would be in touch with me. I thought I showed them what I could do. Coach (Jim) Chaney said he was pleased with how I performed."

Overall, Kiffin said he was pleased with the day of work with the quarterbacks.

"It was a great opportunity to take a look at the quarterbacks," said the Vols' first-year head coach, who along with his staff turned out a pair of the best showing for any Tennessee camps in several years if not ever. "To see how the react in a unique position and see their ability to work. It was great to see a number of guys perform extremely well today."

Showstopper 1

From the time he stepped on campus class of 2011 wide receiver Jarvis Landry from Louisiana served notice. Landry was the best dressed in yellow cleats, but he was best in show in his work. Landry was clearly difficult for the defensive backs to handle showing great quickness and a good ability to separate which earned him post-camp awards and the Lutcher High School standout like what he saw in the Vols, but it's a growing relationship with receivers coach Frank Wilson that has Landry's attention.

"He and I have a great relationship," Landry remarked about his friendship with Vol assistant Frank Wilson. "We talk quite a bit and every time we talk it's like a father/son type of relationship. I've learned a lot from him. He's a great coach and a great person."

Showstopper 2

Like quarterback Chase Rettig, Markeith Ambles arrived around noon on Tuesday but wasted no time garnering attention and respect as the four-star wideout took home receiver honors with Landry. For Ambles, Tuesday was about getting a feel for the Tennessee program.

"Today was about getting to know the coaches better," Ambles said. "They have a good staff and they are going to get Tennessee back on the map. I think they are a program that's going to be fighting for a National Championship soon."

Simms status

After working, the morning session at quarterback, athlete and Alabama commitment Blake Simms got some work at receiver and even in the secondary in the afternoon. Following the camp, the surprise visitor said he remained an Alabama commitment, but he might not be done exploring the Vols.

"It's a possibility," Simms said of a Tennessee official visit. "I will probably come back up. I will go back to Alabama a couple more times. I might also go see Georgia, but I don't know."

Who is that guy?

From mid-morning through the rest of the afternoon, the buzz from camp observers was about a cornerback from St. Augustine High School in New Orleans named Tyrann Mathieu. Other campers started calling him the truth, as Mathieu made play after play and took every possible rep he could including jumping in front of people. Mathieu, who currently holds no SEC offers, said he would camp at LSU next weekend and has the SEC on his mind.

"I really want to go to an SEC school," Mathieu said. "Tennessee is one of my favorite schools. I am going to camp at LSU and Alabama."

On the defensive side the best overall player may have been another 2011 prospect, Georgia linebacker A.J. Johnson. Despite having just completed his sophomore year Johnson already looks the part of a college linebacker and could eventually even grow into a defensive end. He's holding an early offer and likes Tennessee a lot.


Of the defensive backs, Gasden, Ala.'s Dale Trimble really stood out. He showed very good burst and what really jumped out was his ability to turn his hips and fluidly change direction while shadowing receivers. Trimble is also holding a Vol offer and did nothing to hurt his evaluation as a future SEC cornerback with his work on Tuesday.


Award Winners


Linebackers -- Casey Fuller, Vic Beasley and A.J. Johnson (top sophomore award)


Defensive Backs -- Dale Trimble, Tyron Matthews and Anthony Swain (top sophomore)


Quarterbacks -- Barry Brunetti, Chase Rettig and Tommy Rees


Receivers -- Markeith Ambles, Blake Sims and Jarvis Landry (top sophomore)


Running backs -- Keion Williams, Orleans Opku-Darwa, Kelvin Taylor (freshman)


Top Athlete -- Ethan Grant

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