RB Gerald Riggs

2004 Statistics

Coach: Phillip Fulmer
123-31, 13 years
2004 Record:10-3
UNLV WON 42-17
at Georgia WON 19-14
at Mississippi WON 21-17
at South Carolina WON 43-29
at Vanderbilt WON 38-33
vs. Auburn LOST 28-38
vs. Texas A&M WON 38-7

2004 Final Rankings
AP-13, Coaches-15, BCS-15

2005 Outlook

A year after it appeared ready to slide, the Tennessee program maintained its status as one of the nation's top five programs of the current decade with a somewhat surprising 10-win season and an SEC East title. It did so despite starting a pair of true freshmen at QB, watching both get injured and having two key players kicked off the team due to off-the-field incidents. There were other distractions, such as a nightclub brawl the week of the SEC title game and Fulmer's refusal to appear at SEC media day over his assistance in the NCAA investigation of Alabama.

Distractions aside, things should be easier this year for Fulmer, who received a contract extension through 2011, a consensus top-five recruiting class and (finally) some bowl-game momentum (had lost five of past seven bowl games). He'll also have a more experienced team with 18 of his Cotton Bowl starters back, which makes UT look, on paper at least, like a top-five team.

Good as it looks, though, this team isn't without its concerns. The three-way QB battle must be settled heading into the fall, and the victor will assuredly. The O-line will perform well without Munoz. Most importantly, the secondary has to grow into a reliable unit, the toughest task for this team's needs.

That growth can't wait until midseason, not with trips to The Swamp and Baton Rouge in the Vols' second and third games, followed by match-ups against Georgia and Alabama shortly thereafter. This will either be the most battle-hardened team in the nation by the second half of the year, or a team that's lost all confidence and direction. If anything, Fulmer will get a chance to prove he's worth that pay raise - he has done more with less, so expect much.

Projected 2005 record: 9-2
QB - 3.5 DL - 4.5
RB - 4.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Eric Ainge, 198-109-9, 1452 yds., 17 TD

Rushing: Gerald Riggs, 193 att., 1107 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Jayson Swain, 29 rec., 388 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: James Wilhoit, 10-17 FG, 44-45 PAT, 74 pts.

Punting: James Wilhoit, 2 punts, 35.0 avg.

Kicking: James Wilhoit, 10-17 FG, 44-45 PAT, 74 pts.

Tackles: Jayson Allen, 123 tot., 88 solo

Sacks: Parys Haralson, 7 sacks

Interceptions: Corey Campbell, 4 for 1 yd.

Kickoff Returns: Gerald Riggs, 5 ret., 18.4 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Jonathan Hefney, 23 ret., 5.0 avg., 0 TD


DB Jason Allen
OFFENSE: Cedric Houston-TB, Tony Brown-WR, Derrick Tinsley-WR, Michael Munoz-OT, Jason Respert-C, Chuck Prugh-C, James Banks-WR (transferred), Brent Schaeffer-QB (left team)
DEFENSE: Karlton Neal-DE, Kevin Burnett-WLB, Dustin Colquitt-P

Indicative of a one of the nation's deepest teams, there are three proven QBs who will battle for the starting job this spring. Both parts of last fall's dual-freshmen scheme return in Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, as does senior Rick Clausen, who started the final four games with Ainge and Schaeffer on the mend. Phil Fulmer hopes to have an undisputed starter by the fall, for 2004's "Knoxville Shuffle" only achieved the team's passing efforts a ranking of 40th (efficiency). The hunch here is the job goes to Ainge, who has the best arm and most ability of the three. His poise and decision-making were stellar for a freshman, meaning his upside is worth pursuing. Schaeffer's the more mobile option and will likely have some role in the offense, if he doesn't transfer. Cotton Bowl MVP Clausen, who was surprisingly productive while going 3-1 as a starter, is a durable backup who will be truly able to push for Ainge' s inside edge. He lacks the arm strength of Ainge and Schaeffer, and isn't very mobile. But he's a heady QB who was able to operate within the system, and his leadership ability obviously shouldn't be discounted. With the wealth of talent around them, any of the three can put up good numbers. And, as if they needed it, the Vols landed Jonathan Crompton, a four-star recruit who Rivals.com rates as the No. 2 pro-style QB in the class of 2005. You know, just in case.

Running Back
One half of the two-headed monster is gone, but this area is hardly a question mark with the return of 1,000-yard rusher Gerald Riggs Jr. Big, fast (4.49 in the 40) and powerful, Riggs is capable of shouldering a 2,000-yard type load with the graduation of 1,000-yard counterpart Cedric Houston. The departure of two backups means some depth questions linger, which is a concern with some inexperience on the line. Former walk-on David Yancey, last year's fourth option, will have to show he's capable of being a serious part of the offense. A surprise last spring, Yancey is fast and skilled, though not as powerful as Riggs. LaMarcus Coker (4.3-sec 40), this year's No.2-rated all-purpose back (Rivals.com), is tough after contact, even with his smaller frame. Cory Anderson, a converted DT, is a wrecking ball in short yardage when this offense employs a fullback. He rarely runs the ball (only five carries last fall), but is a sneaky short-route receiving threat out of the backfield (17 catches). Former-track star (shot put, 4x100) David Holbert will impact the FB usage with his all-around skills and speed (if not redshirted).

No matter who throws them the ball, this group does a strong job spreading defenses and opening up the run. It returns almost intact as one of the most talented groups of receivers in school history. Expect these guys to make good on that talent, especially with more experience at the QB position. The big-play potential will come from redshirt soph Robert Meachum (18+ yards per catch) and senior C.J. Fayton (17.3), one of whom will become the full-time starter. The two returning starters are dependable. Jayson Swain is a go-to receiver who usually finds a way to get open, while Jason Hannon became a solid possession/all-around guy. There's no superstar here, but plenty of balance and ability, which fits in perfectly with the offensive philosophy.

Tight End
Look for this position to be involved a little more in the passing game. As a freshman, Chris Brown showed receiving ability - with six catches, he caught five more than the entire TE group had in 2003. Brown is svelte and can be tough to cover. At 275 pounds, senior Justin Reed has punishing blocking skills and can also get downfield to occupy LBs.

Offensive Line
Four linemen with starting experience are back. The loss of all-world tackle Michael Munoz would seem to hurt, but this line performed well when he missed the final three games (injuries). Despite a rash of other injuries last fall, the front five still allowed just 17 sacks and paved the way for the No. 3 rushing offense in the SEC. Albert Toeaina, a 350-pound Juco all-American who eventually won the starting job at right tackle, could replace Munoz as the anchor. Experienced backup Richie Gandy should take over at center, though incoming freshman Josh McNeil (Collins, Miss.) could quickly fill that void. This line might not be quite as strong, but it won't suffer much slippage (if any) without Munoz.

The vital spot is QB. The key is choosing the right gunslinger to lead this posse. All of the pieces are already around the three QB candidates for this to be one of the nation's most balanced offenses. Riggs appears ready for a memorable season behind another strong offensive line, the WRs as a whole should be among the best receiving corps the program has ever had, and the TEs and FBs should factor into both the passing and running games. Defenses won't have much to exploit. Expect a conservative approach until Fulmer sees which guy is best this way, and then he will open the offense up more. Last year's numbers reflect competence, not command, of the needs here to succeed, so expect much more once a clear commander is found.


QB Erik Ainge


Returning Starters/
Key Players/Injured
QB Rick Clausen-Sr (6-3, 198) Erik Ainge-So (6-6, 212)
FB Cory Anderson-Jr (6-3, 275) David Holbert-So (6-2, 259)
TB Gerald Riggs-Sr (6-0, 217) Arian Foster-Fr (6-1, 211)
WR Robert Meachem-So (6-3, 218) Chris Hannon-Sr (6-4, 193)
Bret Smith-Jr (6-3, 188)
WR C.J. Fayton-Sr (6-2, 205) Jayson Swain-Jr (6-1, 218)
TE Chris Brown-So (6-3, 239) Justin Reed-Sr (6-7, 289)
OT Arron Sears-Jr (6-4, 330) Eric Young-So (6-4, 310)
OG Rob Smith-Jr (6-4, 306) Anthony Parker-Fr (6-3, 305)
C Richie Gandy-Sr (6-5, 312) David Ligon-Jr (6-5, 300)
OG Cody Douglas-Sr (6-4, 330) Ramon Foster-Fr (6-6, 340)
OT Albert Toeaina-Sr (6-6, 355) Steven Jones-So (6-4, 308)
Ell Ash-Fr (6-5, 293)
K James Wilhoit-Jr (5-10, 198) Ryan Fusco-Sr (5-10, 195)



Defensive Line
This group was believed by many to be the driving force in last fall's 10-3 season, and it should be just as menacing with three starters back. Small but quick rush end Parys Haralson is one of the best defenders in the SEC, having ranked fifth in sacks and tackles for losses. Juco-transfer Jesse Mahelona, a 300-pound run plugger, became an instant force in leading the conference in TFLs. Justin Harrell and senior Jason Hall both have nice size at right end. There's depth here, too, with several experienced backups returning and big-time recruit Delmonte Bolden (Tyner Academy, Tenn.) enrolled early. The run defense will be much better than the 120.0 yards per game allowed last fall while putting enough pressure on the QB to disrupt the pass when opponents will inevitably have to throw.

The big question here is if senior MLB Kevin Simon can return to form after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last September. Quick, instinctive and athletic, Simon is an experienced tackling machine who would be the ideal leader for this defense. Assuming he returns, Jason Mitchell will move from the middle to weak-side, while Omar Gaither will again wreak havoc on the strong-side. Quick (4.5-sec 40) and powerful, Gaither was sixth in the conference in TFLs and third on the team in tackles. Mitchell's even faster at 4.4, which would make him a tough contain at the weak-side spot, which is often used as a rush end. If Simon can't return, there's plenty of depth here (big surprise), led by former Juco-star Jon Poe. Overall, this is a quick-hitting group that meshes perfectly with that strong front-four while using its speed to perform well in pass coverage.

Defensive Back
This area, as well as punting, is the biggest question mark surrounding this team entering spring ball. For a national title to materialize, the secondary has to do better than allowing opposing QBs to complete more than 60 percent of their passes (an SEC-worst). Almost that entire group is back, but expect major changes. The leader here, big-hitting Jason Allen, will move back to cornerback. Someone has to emerge as a dependable starter at the other spot. Fulmer is excited about sophomore CB Joe Hefney, who should improve after a rocky freshman season. Hefney will battle for starting time with Roshaun Fellows, who also started as a freshman last fall, and soph Inky Johnson, who Fulmer has labeled as "dynamic." Corey Campbell returns at strong safety, but he'll have to hold off highly-touted incoming freshmen Demetrice Morley (Killian, Fla.) and Adam Myers-White (Hamilton, Ohio). This area was extremely young and now has the potential to be better. With plenty of emphasis placed here this spring, it will be.

The front seven will be even stronger, but the secondary must improve for this defense to be the type of unit required to win championships. Even with the 86th-ranked pass defense in the country, UT won 10 games. Opponents will inevitably look to exploit that weakness early, but nickel packages with extra LBs should help there. As good as the offense is, SEC defenses will be solid enough to prevent WAC-like scoring performances, which means the defense can't afford to surrender big plays. But a quick pass-rush and leadership from Allen should aid the young talent in the back. Tennessee will keep the play in front of them, so to speak, so the unit can gel and then move forward from there. If they utilize a "big play" mentality, they will over-pursue and be exploited, accordingly.


DT Jesse Mahelona


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Parys Haralson-Sr (6-2, 248) Xavier Mitchell-So (6-3, 252)
DT Jesse Mahelona-Sr (6-2, 297) Demonte Bolden-Fr (6-5, 285)
DT Justin Harrell-Jr (6-4, 306) Turk McBride-Jr (6-4, 260)
DE Jason Hall-Sr (6-3, 260) Antonio Reynolds-So (6-3, 245)
SLB Omar Gaither-Sr (6-2, 230) Ryan Karl-So (6-0, 210)
MLB Kevin Simon-Sr (5-11, 234) Jon Poe-Sr (5-11, 241)
WLB Jason Mitchell-Sr (6-1, 227) Daniel Brooks-Jr (6-4, 234)
CB Jason Allen-Sr (6-2, 202) Inquoris Johnson-So (6-0, 167)
CB Roshaun Fellows-So (6-0, 184) Jonathan Wade-Jr (6-0, 185)
SS Antwan Stewart-Jr (6-0, 193) Sinclair Cannon-Fr (6-2, 210)
FS Jonathan Hefney-So (5-10, 174) Corey Campbell-Jr (6-3, 190)
P Brittan Colquit-Fr (6-3, 198) ..




James Wilhoit is back for his third year. He was 4-of-10 from beyond 40, but did hit two from beyond 50. Wilhoit's big leg is a plus on kickoffs as UT was fourth in its coverage.

It's a great sign when one of your biggest problems is depth at punter. Sophomore Britton Colquitt takes over for all-American brother Dustin. Britton's father and cousin also punted in Knoxville. Britton was suspended due to some alcohol-related problems before last season, but was eventually reinstated. Maybe that's why Fulmer would like to find a backup. TE Justin Reed can competently be that guy in a pinch, so let's move on.

Return Game
The sophomore Hefney will likely start out here on both kicks and punts. This area was a disappointment as the team ranked eight in the SEC in kicks and 10th in punts. That's inexcusable with the abundance of speed and athleticism available. Don't be surprised to see a member of that highly-touted recruiting class step up here.


The Big News - Brent Shaeffer is transferring. The decision came less than two weeks after he was suspended for violating team rules. A focus will now be shifted to Jonathan Crompton when he arrives this summer in terms of a third team QB. Both Rick Clausen and Erik Ainge are sharing the spotlight. Do not expect Coach Fulmer to name the starter until late August. Ainge has answered any questions regarding his shoulder injury that forced him out last fall. Apparently he is as strong as ever and added 10-15 pounds. He did show some rust, however, culminating in the spring game where he was a meager 5 of 13 passing for 94 yards. Clausen had the better day in terms of numbers (13 of 20 passing for 154 yards). Clausen has the leadership quality (was voted captain) and has a better grasp of the system. Ainge is just more talented. The feeling is that Ainge will eventually win the job, even if Clausen starts in the opener.

Arian Foster was set to be the backup to senior Gerald Riggs. Foster was performing so-so until a high ankle spring put him on ice the last week of practice. But redshirt freshman Ja'Kouri Williams has made the race close with great strides. Williams seems to have an advantage on the outside but has difficulties pounding between the tackles. Due to massive injuries on the line, all RBs had a difficult time. At FB, Corey Anderson could be the best offensive weapon.

A year removed from knee surgery, Robert Meachem is ready to break out. He has been the hardest worker on the team, staying late after practice is over. Josh Briscoe turned some heads while getting quality playing time. Bret Smith has been suspended indefinitely due to his misdemeanor assault charge in the "Brent Schaeffer episode".

Chris Brown is not the most consistent blocker, but could make a nice weapon in terms of an H-back position complimenting the deep WR core. His precise route running and soft hands make him a fit to go over the middle. Brad Cottam missed spring again re-habbing another injury.

Richie Gandy, top candidate at center, tore the ACL in his left knee while playing basketball. He could be back by September, or at least get back for part of the 2005 season. The Vols signed the No. 1 center prospect in the country in Josh McNeil, who will not report to Knoxville until the summer. All this means Cody Douglas may have to move over to play center from his guard position unless David Ligon can continue to improve. The best lineman on the field right now is OT Arron Sears, an apparent top NFL draft choice for '06. The new player grabbing the most attention this spring has been Ell Ash, who has moved to OT and quickly caught the eye of the coaches. Cody Douglas will undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee that limited him this spring. He should only be out three to four weeks and ready by August.

Tony McDaniel has been suspended from the team due to a felony assault charge. This puts a premium on locating another tackle. Based on spring, Demonte Bolden has been exceptional. It would not be a long shot to list Bolden as the next big-time interior lineman. He should certainly make the rotation. DT Turk McBride, who moved from DE last year while performing quite well, missed all of spring with a wrist injury.

Daniel Brooks has moved from LB to DE to help ease the lack of depth and had some of the best hits of the spring. Robert Ayers made the best progress before he was suspended indefinitely for off-the-field issues. Getting him back will be highly beneficial with his speed around the corner. It seems his move from the right side to the left side made a world of difference and he would give coaches the rush end they have been searching for.

Kevin Simon is coming back from his second major knee surgery and was doing pretty much everything but scrimmaging. Simon claims if the first game were tomorrow, he would be the starter in the middle. He is way ahead of the rehab schedule, but is still not 100% and has not been cleared to play yet. Although his weight room payoff is evident by his unbelievably chiseled frame. Omar Gaither had his best spring ever. He has been the team leader and never missed a practice. Fans will see quickly this fall that Gaither is the real deal. Ryan Karl was voted most improved defensively overall.

All-American Jason Allen is now playing the position he desires, moving from safety to CB. He is cleared to play following January shoulder surgery. This translates into better man coverage on the outside. On the other hand, his physical presence and 123 tackles from last fall at safety will have to be found elsewhere. Roshaun Fellows combines to give UT a solid one-two punch on the corner. Wherever the ball went this spring, Jonathan Hefney was there getting his hand/hat on it. Hefney can play corner or safety and gives coaches some great flexibility. Last fall, this secondary played a good bit of zone coverage. Look for more man coverage this fall.

This was by far the biggest question heading into spring and nothing is fully settled, mostly due to injuries (see below). Jonathan Hefney will likely have to see the field more at this spot as opposed to corner. He needs to put on a few more pounds. The big key is the health of Antwan Stewart who is not fully recovered from a torn ACL of a year ago. He is struggling to make it back and had difficulty moving while taking a few light reps in the backfield. Recall Stewart actually beat out Jason Allen for the starting CB job two years ago. His addition would be a surprise bonus. The most improved player on defense by some accounts was Corey Campbell. The talk of spring, however, was Inky Johnson, who appears to be way too talented to keep off the field. If anything, he is sure to see time at nickel back. His punt returns in the Orange and White game were the highlight of the day, but he is still not a definite answer at safety yet.

Britton Colquitt had a very nice spring punting and his confidence is growing.

Rehab this summer is the key to how good this team can be. A total of 22 surgeries were performed on various players, plus, 30 players will be participating in "alternative" summer workouts designed to get players healthy. The team was so battered this spring that Coach Fulmer had to go offense versus defense in the Orange and White spring game as opposed to the usual splitting into two teams for a full-fledged game. Coach Fulmer seems to believe everyone should be available this fall with the exception of Cameron Mayo.