By Glennis Curry
For the AJC
Tennessee All-America safety Eric Berry could not recall a SEC quarterback who compares to Virginia Tech signal-caller Tyrod Taylor.
Florida's Tim Tebow aside, most quarterbacks the Fairburn native and Tennessee have faced lack the mobility of Taylor, a junior who ranks second on his team in rushing yards (344) and rushing touchdowns (four).
“Nah, not really,” he said, speaking at Monday’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl press conference. “Maybe in high school, but not so far in college.”
Running back Ryan Williams seemed closer to the front of Berry’s mind. The Tech freshman rushed for more than 1,500 yards and was named the ACC Rookie of the Year. Berry said the Vols’ own 1,000-yard back, Montario Hardesty, is the best back he’s competed against and has helped prepare UT's defense for anything Williams (or Taylor) could throw (or run) at them in Thursday’s game.
“Ryan Williams is a great running back in my opinion. He runs very hard,” Berry said. “But at the same, I feel Montario is the type of back that will get our defense prepared for someone like that. [Williams] is the closest to Montario in terms of running style and how he runs with a low center of gravity. We’re just going to keep working on wrapping up Montario and making sure we’re in the right position to tackle him. He’s done a good job of getting us prepared.”
Brown acclimates to new role
Maybe the third time at Tennessee is the charm for newly hired receivers coach Kippy Brown.
Brown has coached for 26 years – 13 in the NFL and 13 in college – including two previous stints in Knoxville. He trained receivers between 1982 and 1990 and worked with Peyton Manning’s receivers during the 1993-1994 seasons. Brown, who sat out most of the season after leaving the Detroit Lions last year, is one of six coaches currently on staff with a NFL background.
Brown, who will also serve as passing game coordinator, was hired two weeks ago.
Kiffin remarked that his relationship with Brown dates back to when he was a ball boy for the New York Jets and Kiffin’s father, Monte, coached with Brown during the 1990 season. Brown will assist with personnel substitutions during the game, but Kiffin believes his greater impact is ahead, when the veteran coach and the receivers become more familiar.
Tennessee's top three receivers -- Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore and tight end Luke Stocker -- all have one year of eligibility remaining.
“He really coaches players extremely hard, but they respond,” Kiffin said. “He really is not an in-your-face, fuss-you-out kind of guy. He’s a teacher but is very demanding. To have him around is very valuable for us.”
Freshman running back Bryce Brown and redshirt freshman offensive tackle Aaron Douglas both practiced on Monday. Brown was held out of Saturday’s practice and saw no contact Sunday due to lingering effects from a concussion suffered on Dec. 21. He suffered headaches throughout the week after tripping during practice and hitting his head. Douglas has overcome an ankle injury and practiced with the first offense Monday. Defensive end Ben Martin and defensive tackle Wes Brown were held out of Monday’s practice.