Year two of fall camp in the Derek Dooley era got under way Tuesday afternoon when the Vols ran onto the Haslam Field.
The second-year coach wasn't allowing the heat to be a distraction for his players, reminding them that it's worse elsewhere in the conference.
"It's really not that hot," Dooley said. "I told the team, 'It's hot, but it's hotter in Alabama, it's hotter in Georgia, it's hotter in Florida, so what are you going to do about it?'"
Instead, Dooley is looking to build off any positive energy he finds both on and off the field, just as he has done with returning Vols safety Janzen Jackson, who made his official return to the program on July 6.
"He just has great energy on the field," said Dooley. "I see it in the team meeting room. It's like a glow out there. He has a smile on his face. This is what he loves."
Another player who has thrived since spring practice ended is 2010 Academic All-SEC honoree Daniel Hood, who made the switch from offensive tackle to nose tackle. So far, he has felt comfortable in his new position.
"I feel a lot more comfortable at it than I did at offensive tackle," Hood said. "It feels more natural; even something as basic as the stance. I feel like I have more power going forward.
"It's easier, but better for me."
When asked about the UT sophomore, Dooley was confident about Hood's progression, but said he wanted to see if his lineman can keep it going.
"The way he's progressing gives you a little more confidence every day," Dooley said. "He's doing a good job in there. What I'm interested in seeing is how much different he is three weeks from now from the end of spring. We're encouraged by him. He's tough, he's committed. I think he's going to help us."
One player looking to move forward from past mistakes is senior linebacker Austin Johnson, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication on July 24. On Thursday, both of Johnson's charges were dropped.
"I should've never put myself in that situation," Johnson said on Tuesday. "I should've never been out that late. I'm extremely embarrassed. I embarrassed my team, I embarrassed the fans, I embarrassed my family, I embarrassed my coaches. I've learned from my mistakes. I plan to move forward from this.
"I want to say I'm extremely sorry, it's extremely immature of me."
Ben Martin is also looking to move forward. An Achilles tear not only left the Cincinnati native sidelined for the entire 2010 season, but also gave him problems in February, causing the UT senior to miss spring practice as well.
"It felt really good to be back on the field with the guys," said Martin. "It felt good to be a part of the team again, going through the drills and getting yelled at by the coaches. It felt good again."
Despite the positive energy, Dooley isn't as much a fan of the helmet-only practices as he will be for the full-pad practices beginning Aug. 6.
"You look for anything that's different than what you expect and I didn't see anything different, which is usually a good thing," Dooley said. "These first few practices I hate because we're sitting there running around in helmets. I'll be anxious to put the pads on."
The Volunteers open up the regular season at home against Montana on Sept. 3.