Marquez North

Vols’ Marquez North expected back ‘within a week’

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In the end, it was much ado about almost nothing.

Late last night, a Knoxville radio station reported that Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North sustained a leg injury during Wednesday’s practice that was deemed serious enough to potentially be season-ending.  Local beat writers shortly thereafter began tamping down the seriousness of the injury, with national writers joining in this morning.

In a text message to the Knoxville News Sentinel, head coach Butch Jones joined in as well, writing that the Vols “fully expect to have him [back on the practice field] within a week.” The exact nature of North’s injury hasn’t been detailed.

One year after leading the Vols in receiving as a true freshman, a shoulder injury limited him to 30 receptions for 320 yards, totals that were third on the team.

Vols mum as Marquez North injury rumors swirl

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Tennessee’s offense may have lost one of its more significant and talented pieces to a serious injury.  Or said playmaker may have just been dinged.  Or nobody knows.  One of the three.

Warning flares went up all around Rocky Top overnight when the Knoxville FOXSports radio affiliate reported on its website that Marquez North “has suffered a serious leg injury and it is feared to be season ending.” In an update, the station added that “North went down with a serious, non-contact injury to his leg [during practice] and could not put any weight on it” and an “MRI is scheduled for Thursday” to determine the extent of the injury.

The Vols have yet to address what if any injury issue North is facing, adding to the speculation. Further adding to that speculation? Practice has reportedly been cancelled for this morning, meaning media members won’t be able to ask head coach Butch Jones about North’s status until later on tonight.

Some members of the media, though, are attempting to tap the brakes on the seriousness of whatever injury North sustained.

And then there’s this, from RockyTopInsider.com:

Here’s what we’ve been told via a source: North did, indeed, sustain an injury early during practice on Wednesday. After the injury, North spent the rest of Wednesday’s session on the training table observing practice, but was not in any noticeable pain. The injury continues to be evaluated and the severity of the injury is unknown at this time. We can confirm that much, but anything else at this point is speculation.

One of the most physically-gifted receivers in the SEC, the 6-3, 229-pound North has failed in the eyes of some to live up to the billing his four-star pedigree portended, though health issues have certainly played a role in that perception  Last season, a shoulder injury knocked him out of the final three games of the season and limited him for the two prior to that.  Coincidentally or not, the Vols went 4-1 in those five games, although the emergence of Josh Dobbs as the starting quarterback likely had as much to do with that run than anything.

Despite that missed playing time, North was still third on the team with 30 receptions and 320 receiving yards, and tied for second with four receiving touchdowns, one year after leading the team in receiving as a true freshman.  He was one of several players limited during spring practice earlier this year.

Six Vols out for spring football, six more limited

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Things are looking up for Tennessee and head coach Butch Jones. The Vols just pulled in a highly-respected recruiting class to follow the “brick-by-brick” mantra in Knoxville, and it may just be a matter of time before Tennessee is back to being a force in the SEC East on a regular basis. That said, there will be a good number of players missing or limited during Tennessee’s spring practice schedule.

Defensive ends Derek Barnett and Kyle Phillips, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and wide receiver Jason Croom are all expected to be out of action this spring, Jones announced on Friday. In addition to that list, Jones suggested tight end Alex Ellis could also be out for the spring.

Croom injured his knee during bowl practices leading up to Tennessee’s match-up with Iowa. Ellis, a senior, was recently awarded a scholarship by Tennessee.

To further deplete the available depth in the spring, Jones also listed a handful of players that could be limited at best this spring. Wide receiver Marquez North, running back Jalen Hurd, offensive lineman Chance Hall, defensive end Corey Vereen, defensive lineman Charles Mosley, linebacker Dillon Bates and cornerback Rashaan Gaulden were those mentioned as limited this spring by the head coach.

North played in 10 games last season and missed playing time due to a shoulder injury. Hurd was Tennessee’s leading rusher in 2014 with 899 yards and five touchdowns.

Former four star WR leaves Vols for FCS Chattanooga

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Tennessee has a very bright future ahead of it heading into the offseason after wrapping up the year with an inspiring win over Iowa, but one wide receiver will be out of the mix when spring practices open up later this year. Drae Bowles, a redshirt sophomore has transferred out of the program after enrolling at UT-Chattanooga today. Stephen Higgins of the Times Free Press reported the news via Twitter.

Because he is moving to a school playing at the FCS level, Bowles will be eligible to play right away in 2015 for Chattanooga.

Tennessee looks to be pretty deep at wide receiver in 2015. All five leading receivers from 2014, including Pig Howard, Von Pearson and Marquez North are all slated to return to Knoxville in 2015, so playing time for Bowles may have been scarce at best. He appeared in two games this season but did not record any receiving stats. He also played on special teams for the Vols.

Vols’ receiving corps takes yet another hit

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If it wasn’t for bad luck, Tennessee’s receiving corps would’ve had no luck at all in 2014.

Josh Smith is out for the year with a severe ankle injury sustained in early September, while Marquez North won’t play again this season because of a shoulder injury.  Little-used Cody Blanc also sustained a season-ending Achilles injury, while Von Pearson missed games earlier in the year because of a high-ankle sprain.

Wes Rucker of GoVols.com is reporting that, according to UT receivers coach Zach Azzanni, Jason Croom will not play in the Gator Bowl against Iowa.  Croom sustained a knee injury during practice earlier this week.

It’s unclear if it’s the same knee Croom injured late last month.  What’s also unclear is the specific nature of the injury.

It’s very disappointing,” Azzanni said. “I feel sorry for him. Here’s a guy that’s busted his tail and gotten better all season long and done everything I asked of him. Just doesn’t say a word and works his tail off. The game gets taken away here at the end, one he’d love to play in. First bowl game.”

Among receivers with 10 or more catches, Croom leads the team in yards per catch at 14.5, while he’s fourth in receiving yards (305) and tied for sixth in receptions (21).  His four receiving touchdowns are tied for first on the team.