The Vols are more than halfway through spring practice 2017. Tennessee went indoors for practice number eight, due to rain. Dozens of high school coaches were observing as part of the Vols annual coaches clinic.

Here are three things to know from Thursday's session:


The Vols went through about a dozen 'circle of life' competitions to begin practice. The first one matched up last year's top JuCo prospect, DE Jonathan Kongbo, with this year's no. 1 overall prospect (according to ESPN), offensive lineman Trey Smith.

It's always difficult to see through the circle of massive bodies surrounding the one-on-one competition but it was clear the Tennessee native Smith got the better of Kongbo.

"When he doesn't have to think, he can really come off the ball and hit somebody in the mouth," offensive line coach Walt Wells said with a smile after practice. Smith is still supposed to be a high school senior, but enrolled a semester early at Tennessee.


Butch Jones has been less vocal than usual on his microphone this spring, at least when the media is there. Thursday, Jones was on the mic a little more than previously in spring but still not quite as much as he used to be. 

"He's starting to relax a lot," Vols corner Justin Martin said of Jones. "The team takes the vibe of their head coach because that's just how it is. Coach Jones is getting a little looser, starting to relax a little more and I feel like that's just opening everybody up."

"We're a real close group together. There's not anybody on the team that's separated, we all hang out with each other outside of football, we make sure people stay out of trouble as much as we can, I just feel like we're close."


Some members of the defensive line (Quay Picou, Darrell Taylor, Ja'Quain Blakely and Brandon Benedict appear in the video) were singing along to the '70s soul hit "Lean on Me" while waiting in line for a drill during practice.