Bits ’n’ pieces of mixed emotions

Marvin Westwestwords

Jarrett Guarantano has been declared the seventh best quarterback in the Southeastern Conference by no less an authority than Connor O’Gara, Senior National Columnist (note capital letters) for Saturday Down

Don’t know the first thing about O’Gara’s qualifications as an expert and can’t say if he has ever seen Guarantano.

I also wonder if Jarrett being in the middle of that pack is his fault or another putdown of the Tennessee offensive line. I do believe if enough critics kick those big Vols in the shins, they might get mad and knock somebody down. That would be exciting!


Jeremy Pruitt will be paid a mere $3.8 million this year, a million and change less than Rick Barnes will receive. Simple explanation is Barnes has accomplished more. His team beat Vanderbilt.

Football numbers will be adjusted if success ever sets in at Tennessee. If the gridiron Volunteers were to win the national championship, their coach, as it now stands, would receive only a $500,000 bonus. If Barnes ever cuts down the basketball nets, he gets $1.5 million in added cash.

I could say this is unfair, as contracts go, but the dilemma seems so far away as to not be of critical importance this week.


Interesting that schools with past football ribbons and bows had no impact on the NFL Draft. Nebraska was shut out for the first time in 56 years. Virginia Tech, California, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Kansas and Purdue joined Tennessee in the zero group.

Interesting 2: Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield rushed for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2018 but didn’t get drafted, supposedly because of poor 40-yard sprint times. I miscalculated the value of his famous name.


Not being drafted is not necessarily fatal to pro careers.

In 2011, Tennessee recruited Justin Coleman from Brunswick, Ga. He was 5-11 and 175, good speed, confident, plenty tough, early enrollee and hard worker.

His varsity corner career started with a big play, but it was against him instead of by him. A Montana receiver beat him for an 80-yard touchdown. Derek Dooley was deeply disappointed.

Coleman gave up another big play in the next game, against Cincinnati, coached by the up and soon coming Butch Jones. Justin became a nickel back.

Sure enough, along came Jones. Coleman survived but was ignored on draft day. He secured jobs on practice squads at Minnesota, New England and Seattle. He eventually returned to the Patriots and watched them win a Super Bowl.

In 2017, the Seahawks traded a seventh-round draft pick for Coleman. He intercepted an Indianapolis pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Hmmm, said coach Pete Carroll, what do we have here?

Coleman picked off Dak Prescott and ran it back for a TD against Dallas.

Carroll again said “Hmmm” and added “could be.”

Very late last season, Coleman found an unattended fumble and converted it into a touchdown. He was about to become somebody. Pro Football Focus gave him the 54th best grade among all varieties of cornerbacks. I don’t want to know how many there are.

Soon thereafter, better things happened. Justin escaped Seattle as a free agent. Seven weeks ago, he signed a four-year, $36 million contract with Detroit. The Lions say he has position versatility. I say he is the highest-paid slot corner in NFL history.

The UT alumni association will soon solicit donations.


Drew Richmond’s transfer from Tennessee to Southern Cal triggered mixed emotions. He never lived up to recruiting hype. He said Butch didn’t do what he promised.

Richmond redshirted in 2015. He started six games in 2016. He was suspended for the 2017 opener against Georgia Tech, started seven games and missed time due to injuries.

Pruitt and Will Friend discovered what some of us already knew, that Richmond was not an ideal left tackle to protect the life and limb of even the seventh-ranked quarterback. Drew became a right tackle. At 6-5 and 316, he played – but not well enough to win. Snap counts were problems.

It is probably best for all concerned that Richmond chose a new scene for his senior season. Tennessee coaches didn’t think he was properly focused and he thought coaches asked too much.

Richmond says he will earn his master’s in social entrepreneurship at Southern Cal. I wonder what that is and how he connected with the Trojans. Maybe Tyson Helton or Tee Martin?

No grudges. I wish Drew well. Best I can tell, he is a good man.

Marvin West invites reader comments or questions. His address is [email protected]

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