I am in Knoxville this week for an ESPN Magazine story and also am doing a book signing here Friday night on the eve of the Orange and White Game. The Tennessee football offices were really buzzing Wednesday since it was the first day the Vols coaching staff could call recruits. I had a chance to watch a lot of footage from UT football practices. The Vols really need some of their incoming freshmen to add some juice to the offense because they don't appear to have that dynamic skill player in the program. Chris Walker, the junior defensive end the staff has been raving about for months, sure did look the part on tape. He is dominant in one-on-ones because he is just so explosive. The other guy who really caught my eye was freshman DT Montori Hughes, an agile 310-pounder. Give credit to the old UT staff for finding him because Hughes was not a high-profile prospect. He was about as low-rated as a player that a school as big as UT will sign. Reports of his size varied. He was listed at 6-5, 255 and then at 275. He's actually a really well-proportioned 310 and he can move. UT D-line coach Ed Orgeron was so fired up about Hughes' potential and thinks he could really blossom as the freshman continues to learn technique. Speaking of which, a while back a buddy and I had wondered about who Hollywood would get to play Orgeron in the movie about Ole Miss offensive lineman Michael Oher. Turns out, Orgeron is going to play the role himself. Next week he's slated to go to Atlanta to do his scene with Sandra Bullock, the star of the movie. "How amazing is that?" he said as he flipped over a copy of the movie script that had been FedExed to him. It is pretty surreal. Now it's not like he's playing Hamlet, but it's still quite a thought to imagine some Hollywood type, going, 'OK, OK, good, but now, do it with more feeling.' This brings back images of an ESPN photo shoot we did with Orgeron down in Mississippi a couple of years ago. It was pretty entertaining to see the interaction between he and the freelance photographers that came in from New York. The photogs weren't exactly football fans, but Orgeron seemed to connect with them. Anyhow, it was all pretty playful but still totally bizarre, and ended up with the camera guys running 40 yard-dashes in the Ole Miss indoor practice facility while an assistant timed them. RANDOM STUFF • I heard there was a lot of talk about Duke guard Greg Paulus possibly transferring to Michigan to play QB and the subsequent notion of how bizarre it would sound that a guy couldn't play at Duke so he was moving on to Michigan to get his shot. I wrote about Paulus' football prospects a few times in the blog last month and got into this situation. I don't think a lot of folks realize just how good QB Thad Lewis is or how highly the Blue Devils' staff thinks of him. I remember visiting with Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper in January in California and he gushed about how sharp Lewis is and about the tools he has to work with. Again, if Paulus does opt to transfer, whether it were to Michigan or any other I-A school he would need to find an academic program to study that Duke does not offer in order to become eligible to play for the new school in 2009. My hunch is a school as big as Michigan has such programs. Then again, I'm skeptical that a guy who hasn't played football for years, could then jump in without having been able to go through spring ball and win a starting QB job. People can talk about baseball players coming back after long times away and use the Chris Weinke example, but physically Paulus isn't the prospect Weinke was and he would have much, much less prep time to work into a new scheme. • Alex Lagemann, a touted former WR recruit, is finally healthy and having a nice spring Jonathan Okanes reports: Lagemann has demonstrated excellent hands and good route-running ability, and has continually made plays during the spring. He is consistently getting open, and then producing when balls are coming his way. "He's doing a real nice job," Tedford said. "He's giving great effort. He's playing fast. He's getting much more comfortable and making some really nice plays, some really nice catches." Lagemann was considered one of the nation's top wide receiver recruits when he came to Cal in 2007, but a broken foot, and some complications that followed, essentially sidelined him for two years. He spent an entire year getting healthy and then spent last season on the scout team. To go around the college football landscape with Bruce Feldman, become an ESPN Insider.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider