CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Marlon Anthony can't help that his fellow wideouts are extremely young and inexperienced.
But the University of Tennessee receiver is doing his best to make sure they don't seem that way.
"We have a chip on our shoulder," he said before the Mocs' last of 15 spring workouts on Wednesday. "Everybody is saying we're young and we don't have a lot of experience, and we definitely got off to a slow start this spring.
"We've been progressing and started to catch a lot of balls the last few weeks, but we still have a lot of room to improve."
Anthony's improvement was a little under the radar through most of camp as UTC focused on breaking in two new quarterbacks and a completely new spread offensive scheme.
Signal callers Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman will rely heavily on the zone-option read rushing attack this fall, but they didn't fully have that at their disposal while wearing red no-contact jerseys during Saturday's spring game.
With the offense throwing more and the defense unable to blitz, Anthony made the most of his chance to shine by grabbing six passes for 100 yards and an impressive tip-toe touchdown in the back of the end zone.
"I didn't expect to be the Offensive MVP and catch a lot of passes because I haven't really been doing that in practices," he said sheepishly on Wednesday. "But ya, it does make me feel a lot more comfortable and I'm definitely coming out here with a lot more confidence."
Anthony has already had some success in his first two years at UTC, including 27 receptions and four touchdowns as a sophomore last fall. However, he played more of a supporting role to the since-departed Joel Bradford and Sloan Allison in those years.
Like it or not, the Acworth, Georgia, native is the new go-to guy in the Mocs' passing game in more ways than one.
"He has no choice (but to be a leader). All of us are looking up to him," said rising sophomore Ron Moore, Jr. "He stepped up big for us and showed us how to play big on Saturday by having a big game."
At 6-foot-6, Anthony is a monster target and threat on the outside, but as a rising junior he represents the lone upperclassman at a position with four players who just finished their first year on the college level.
"If he just makes the plays he's supposed to make, that's good enough," said head coach Russ Huesman. "We're not asking Marlon to go out there and be vocal and be a leader and do those things. We just need Marlon to make plays when he has the opportunity.
"But Marlon did take a step forward. He's still got to get better though."
That's what Anthony vowed to do this summer.
With the familiar veteran leaders like Bradford, Allison and quarterback B.J. Coleman no longer around to run summer workouts, the torch has been passed to the elders at each position to keep their teammates focused over the off-season.
Anthony is putting another chip on his shoulder to not only improve his game on the field in the coming months, but to become a stronger leader, as well.
"I'm not really a vocal guy, but the fact that I am the oldest means I need to show them what to do," he said. "It's something new to me, but I like it. I still have a lot to learn, but I hope they can watch me as I learn and they can learn from it, too."
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