Aug. 24 News: Big Gain and A Big Loss for Tennessee Vols

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Good news came with bad news for Butch Jones’ Tennessee Vols over the weekend.

The good news: Tennessee picked up a commitment from Hunter Johnson, a 5-star quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class. The Brownsburg, Indiana, product told ESPN.com’s Derek Tyson:

“Tennessee was my first offer,” Johnson said. “I’ve always believed in them from the beginning. I trust Coach Jones and the rest of the coaches there, and I feel like I will be very happy there. The fans at UT are the best in college football.”

Johnson is a huge get for the Vols; arguably the biggest for Jones since Jalen Hurd.

The Vols won’t see Johnson for two seasons, however. Their season of heightened expectations — heightened all the more by placement in the preseason AP Top 25 — starts with some doubt cast on the secondary.

Defensive back Rashaan Gaulden was lost for the season Saturday, leaving the Vols with some restructuring to do in the defensive backfield. Per Rocky Top Insider’s Daniel Lewis, Jones said:

“We do have some options,” Jones said. “Cam has played there, Malik Foreman has played there, Micah Abernathy has played there, you know, a number of individuals have played there, Emmanuel Moseley has some reps there, so that’s been an invaluable tool – the number of repetitions that individuals have gained there.”

Marshall Holds Memorial for Former Football Star

WSAZ.com

Marshall University hosted a memorial service Sunday for Phil Ratliff, a member of the Thundering Herd’s 1992 Div. I-AA national championship team.

Ratliff was to make his homecoming to Marshall on Oct. 31 as offensive line coach of the Charlotte 49ers, newcomers to the FBS this season. He died earlier this month of a “cardiac event.”

Freshmen to See Immediate Playing Time for Tulane

Andrew Lopez, The Times-Picayune

Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson won’t shy from playing first-year players in 2015 — and a lot of them.

The Green Wave coach told The Times-Picayune:

“I think almost all the kids in the secondary have to play,” Johnson said. “I like Malik, Shenall, Shy and all those guys; Teamer too. The running backs, Nigel and Jet. You just watch them and you just glow. Those receivers are catching the ball, Preston and Hicks. I don’t know who’s not going to play right now.”

Johnson’s willingness to play true freshmen resulted in promising quarterback Tanner Lee starting last season. Lee is key to the Green Wave’s pursuit of a bowl game in the year to come.

He’s off to a solid start, standing out in Tulane’s scrimmage Saturday that wrapped fall camp.