March 7, 2014
By Darcy Reed
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- "Curt is a big leader. He is a vocal leader, physical leader. He leads by example. He does everything right. When he is out there you can feel the energy from him. If he wants things done you have to get it done for him."
Those are powerful words coming from teammate Justin Coleman, the kind of affect we all hope we have on people, we do something and they want to follow.
Tennessee has a linebacker back after a redshirt year but more importantly than that they've got a leader.
After suffering a season ending anterior cruciate ligament injury late in the 2012 season Curt Maggitt is looking forward to being back on the field.
"It was great," Maggitt said enthusiastically following his first spring practice. "First time being back, being out there with the defense...and it was just a good experience."
But Maggitt isn't the only one who's ready to be back, head coach Butch Jones is just as anxious to have him on the field in Orange & White.
"He's our leader, he's the one who has everyone's respect," said Jones. "When Curt Maggitt talks, everybody listens. He's the one getting up in front of the room. He's the one that's coming to me all the time, that constant communication, and then you look at adding him onto the football field."
Instead of sitting the sidelines, aching to be out on the field, Maggitt was proactively staying involved in Tennessee football as much as he could.
Maggitt could be found cheering on his teammates at home or an away game, but he was also involved with the scouting process.
An experience that allowed Maggitt to soak in the game from a different perspective.
"I have a broader vision of the game. Not just the interior, I'm learning more about concepts," said Maggitt. "I'm learning not just my position but other positions and how the puzzle works."
Gaining this outlook helped Maggitt work with those on the scout team in the past as well as his defensive line now.
"I felt like we had a terrific O-Line last year, size and experience wise. I'm trying to get myself better," he said. "I'm trying to get them better. Last year when they gave up sacks it kind of bugged me; I'm saying that no body is better me. If you can't block me then you're going to block me in practice. The game should be easier, that was my mind set."
To Maggitt, this is what helped merge him into the leader his teammates see him as.
"I think the guys know that I love the game and that it's not a show. I truly enjoy being at the complex and love Tennessee. Even though I wasn't on the field physically I was on the sidelines, at away games and on the scout team. I gave my all, I think the guys see that and they respect that."
Maybe Maggitt did have to physically sit out a season for an injury but his character remained intact with the coaching staff all along the way.
"I told (the team) this, you are responsible for creating your own identity," said Jones. "Your identity is being born on the field, off the field, you're building your reputation. In the classroom, academically speaking, in the meeting rooms, on the football field, your consistency in performance, and Curt is one of those individuals who has really built his identity."