Just two days away from the beginning of Spring camp, Tennessee football’s sports information released a statement announcing junior receiver Alton ‘Pig’ Howard will not be with the team throughout Spring camp.
The statement released only said Howard had left for “personal reasons,” and would not go into further detail.
Howard was the Vols second leading receiver in 2013. As a sophomore he accounted for 388 yards on 44 receptions, as well as three touchdown grabs.
He could still return to the team before the 2014 season begins this fall, but even if he remains absent the Vols are still in a solid situation at the receiver position.
Heading into the Fall Tennessee has 12 receivers, minus Howard, listed on their active roster. Seven of those saw playing time in 2013, and two more were prominent pick-ups in Butch Jones’s first full signing class at Tennessee.
If Howard is not to return to Tennessee before the season begins, what the Vols will miss the most is his versatility. Not only was he able to get open down field and make catches, he was also able to get the ball in space on the ground off the jet sweep which will most likely become an increasingly run play in Butch Jones’s spread offense.
While the Vols may miss Howard in Spring camp, some notable names making their Spring camp debut are Jalen Hurd, Von Pearson, Josh Malone, as well as Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs who did not participate in Spring camp one year ago.
Hurd and Malone are the Vols two lone five-stars who enrolled early. Pearson, a junior college transfer out of Feather River College in California was rated as one of the best junior college athletes in this year’s class.
Finally Dobbs, who started the final four games for the Vols after Justin Worley’s thumb injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, and Ferguson who redshirted last year, will partake in a four man battle to become the 2014 starting quarterback for the Vols. Ferguson was, in fact, the only quarterback who didn’t see playing time for Tennessee last season after a silly season of injuries for the Vols occurred under center.
The Vols will begin Spring practice on Friday, March 7, and will conclude it on Saturday, April 12 with the annual Orange and White Game.