HOOVER, Ala. —Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has some big expectations for left tackle Antonio ‘Tiny’ Richardson.
As the new left tackle, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Richardson has been tabbed to take over the responsibility of protecting quarterback Tyler Bray’s blind side. It’s a high calling for Richardson, a sophomore that had limited experience as a freshman.
“What Tiny brings is he has incredible energy,” Dooley said. “He just walks in that huddle and energizes the place. He has great leadership capabilities, so his presence is not only felt in his abilities to block, but it’s also felt in the huddle. He’s been a good addition for me, but he certainly has a long way to go.”
A shoulder injury in fall camp set Richardson back in 2011. Richardson saw work as a reserve on special teams and even moonlighted as a fullback in some goal-line situations.
The Nashville native was a consensus top-100 recruit when he signed in 2011. He will take over for Dallas Thomas, who will slide down to left guard in his senior season.
“He came in last season where we felt like he was going to be able to help us as a true freshman,” Dooley said of Richardson. “It’s very difficult on the offensive line to make up that ground that he lost. He came in this spring and was further along than I anticipated from a knowledge standpoint, from a dependability standpoint.”
PHILLIPS UPDATE: There’s still no official word on defensive tackle Dante Phillips, but signs continue to point to the former Florida signee ending up at Tennessee in 2012.
Phillips, a four-star recruit, signed with Florida in February but was denied admission into UF despite being cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse.
Phillips told WNML radio in Knoxville on Wednesday that he has been cleared to enroll at Tennessee. UT sports information said Dooley wouldn’t be able to comment on the situation Thursday morning.
As of Thursday morning, Phillips is not listed as an active student in UT’s online directory. He would be eligible to play in 2012 if he’s granted enrollment by the UT admissions department.
ROSTER CHANGES: As expected, offensive lineman JerQuari Schofield is no longer on the roster. Schofield did not practice with the team in the spring and Dooley said he was away from the team indefinitely at that point.
The 6-6, 330-pound Schofield was recruited by former coach Lane Kiffin and appeared in ten games during his three-year stint at UT.
Also, former wide receiver Vincent Dallas is now listed as a defensive back on the updated roster. Dallas caught three passes for 37 yards as a freshman. His move to the defensive side of the ball is a result of the Vols’ depth at wide receiver and the void caused by cornerback Izauea Lanier being ineligible for the 2012 season.
JAMES READY TO GO CAMPING: Junior offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James admitted he was a bit taken aback by the idea of spending one week of fall camp at Milligan College in Johnson City, Tenn. He’s warming up to the idea now.
“It’s going to be an experience,” James said. “It’s team bonding. We keep saying it’s going to be like “Remember the Titans” or something, and we’re going to run to Gettysburg or something like that. I think it’s going to be fun to just be out there together.”