KNOXVILLE –The running back position was one of Tennessee’s biggest question marks over the offseason. But junior Rajion Neal pulled away in that competition with two impressive scrimmages this camp, and on Thursday the Vols officially designated him the starter for the season opener Aug. 31 against NC State.

“His level of consistency more than anything,” Dooley said when asked why he won the job. ” I couldn’t identify his good practices or his bad practices. He’s been real consistent and comfortable in that role. He’s produced every day. He’s progressed in all his areas. I feel good about him.”

DEPTH CHART:The Vols’ official depth chart for the season opener against NC State on Aug. 31:



QB 1. Tyler Bray 2. Justin Worley

RB 1. Rajion Neal 2. Devrin Young

FB 1. Ben Bartholomew 2. Justin King

TE 1. Mychal Rivera 2. Ben Bartholomew

LT 1. Antonio Richardson 2. Alan Posey

LG 1. Dallas Thomas 2. Marcus Jackson

C 1. James Stone 2. Mack Crowder

RG 1. Zach Fulton 2. Alex Bullard

RT 1. Ja’Wuan James 2. Kyler Kerbyson

WR 1. Justin Hunter 2. Cody Blanc

WR 1. Cordarrelle Patterson 2. Zach Rogers


Jack LB: 1. Jacques Smith 2. Willie Bohannon

DE: 1. Darrington Sentimore 2. Corey Miller

NT: 1. Daniel McCullers 2. Daniel Hood

DE: 1. Maurice Couch 2. Marlon Walls

SLB: 1. Curt Maggitt 2. LaTroy Lewis

MLB: 1. A.J. Johnson 2. Channing Fugate

WLB: 1. Herman Lathers 2. Dontavis Sapp

LCB: 1. Justin Coleman or Marsalis Teague

FS: 1. Brian Randolph 2. Rod Wilks

SS: 1. Byron Moore or Brent Brewer

RCB: 1. Prentiss Waggner 2. Eric Gordon

Special teams:

P: 1. Matt Darr or Michael Palardy

K: 1. Michael Palardy

KOS: 1. Michael Palardy

DS: 1. J.R. Carr 2. Matt Giampapa

H: 1. Matt Darr or Justin Worley

PR: 1. Devrin Young 2. Justin Hunter

RK: 1. Devrin Young and Cordarrelle Patterson

Injury update:Linebacker Herman Lathers and Patterson (shoulder) were still in non-contact jerseys on Thursday. Lathers, who is dealing with various minor injuries, said it would take “a miracle” for him to not play against NC State. Patterson is expected to play as well.

Tight end Mychal Rivera was out of his non-contact jersey for the first time since spraining his knee the first week of fall camp.

“I’ve been able to do everything for the past four or five practice,” Rivera said. “Everything is well.”

Dooley said that freshman wide receiver Alton ‘Pig’ Howard (foot) is likely about two weeks out from a return. Freshman wide receiver Jason Croom (hamstring) is day-to-day.