November 27, 2008

Fulmer throws last cleanup block

Somehow, the "Last Cleanup Block" doesn't have the same punch to it. Yet that's how departing Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer characterized his unexpected finishing act to the Volunteers' traditional "Last Tackle" drill Thursday afternoon.

A longstanding UT tradition where all senior players jog through a human tunnel of their teammates and arrive at a uniformed dummy of the final opponent, the drill had an extra participant in Fulmer, who coaches his final game Saturday when the Vols host Kentucky. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

"Obviously the last tackle is always special as we introduce those guys. I kind of got in on a cleanup block," said Fulmer, who held an emotional press conference Nov. 3 during which it was announced Fulmer would not return in 2009. "I didn't have to hit it. It was already on the ground. I just cleaned it up a little bit. A lot of friends came out today to see us, it's a good day. Looking forward to the weekend."

Fulmer never before had participated in the drill, he said, because it wouldn't have been appropriate.

"It wasn't my year to be the 'Last Tackle,'" Fulmer said.

Crompton expected to start

With redshirt freshman B.J. Coleman clearly hobbled by a foot injury and missing most of Thursday's practice, Tennessee is expected to start Jonathan Crompton against the Wildcats. Crompton started UT's first four games, was benched for the next six contests and then returned to the starter's role last week at Vanderbilt.

Crompton played the Vols' first two series, throwing an interception on his lone pass attempt, in that game and then gave way to Coleman. Crompton closed out the win once the Vols went to a run-only offense.

"It quite likely will be Jonathan, but we're going to take this film and study it and go from there," Fulmer said. "(Coleman's) foot is limited. He should be available. We're hopeful that that's the case, but he has missed some work this week."

Fulmer also indicated it was unlikely that defensive back Brent Vinson, who's nursing an calf injury, would be available against Kentucky.

Alcoa reunion

Saturday's game will be a reunion for three former high school teammates in Tennessee's Brandon Warren and Kentucky's duo of quarterback Randall Cobb and wideout Kyrus Lanxter. The three former Alcoa Tornadoes won consecutive state championships together in 2004-05.

"I've talked to Randall a couple of times this week, and I've talked to Kyrus too," said Warren. "They're excited about the game. It's going to be fun to get to see and play against those guys."

Warren indicated he was somewhat surprised by the true freshman Cobb's impact on the Kentucky offense. Cobb has more than 1,000 yards of offense.

"Yeah, I was in the hotel and it wasn't a good game, I think they were playing Florida, but I was just sitting there watching him and it was just crazy," Warren said. "Everybody kept telling him he couldn't play quarterback, he was too short and this, that and the other. He's playing now and he's playing pretty good."

Warren, who had an intense recruiting battle that ended with him picking Florida State before sitting out 2007 and joining the Vols this season, said he offered simple advice to Cobb last year.

"I just told him to make sure you make the choice that's going to better you and that you are 100 percent sure and ready to do," Warren said. "I'd love to have Randall here but I think he made the right decision to go to Kentucky and play up there."

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