|Safety Demetrice Morley returns to improved Tennessee secondary|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 18 January 2008 14:27|
``I bleed orange,'' he said during his first appearance with teammates on Friday. ``I'm a Vol. I want to finish a Vol.''
Morley, who will re-enter Tennessee as a junior, has spent the past year working on his grades at nearby Pellissippi State Technical Community College.
With cornerbacks Jonathan Wade and Antwan Stewart graduating, Morley and free safety Jonathan Hefney were expected to anchor the secondary in 2007. Morley had started 10 games at strong safety, recording 51 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 2006.
Morley's departure and injuries to cornerbacks Antonio Gaines and Marsalous Johnson caused the Vols to struggle stopping the pass last season, especially early on.
``The criticism was bad, but we took it as a good thing,'' said freshman Eric Berry, who filled in at Morley's strong safety spot and went on to All-SEC honors. ``We did need to get better, and we came together.''
Freshman Brent Vinson and sophomore DeAngelo Willingham took over at cornerback with some help from young reserves Ricardo Kemp, Dennis Rogan and Antonio Wardlow.
With Morley back, the secondary should be one of the Vols' strengths in 2008, even with Hefney leaving.
``We can be as good as we want to be,'' Morley said. ``We're going to come out there and we're going to work hard, on and off the field. We're going to give it our all, that's what kind of team we are.''
Also, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer completed his staff by hiring New York Jets assistant Jason Michael as tight ends coach. The 29-year-old from Louisa, Ky., is a former Tennessee graduate assistant and has spent three years working in the NFL.
Michael's hiring completes a Tennessee offensive staff overhaul that began when offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe announced in December he was leaving the Vols to coach Duke.
Fulmer has since hired Richmond coach Dave Clawson as offensive coordinator, Richmond assistant Latrell Scott as wide receivers coach and Florida assistant Stan Drayton as running backs coach.