March 8, 2014
As Tennessee wound up their second day of spring practice, the two standouts both said their roles have dramatically changed from newcomers to experienced teachers.
North welcomes a crew of star potential players into his position. Junior college transfer Von Pearson and freshmen Josh Malone are getting their first look at offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian's offense and North feels he can help shorten the learning curve.
"I really enjoy that because like I said I'm trying to emerge as a leader so that's a part of it," said North.
Last season North tallied 38 receptions for 496 yards receiving. He plans on improving those numbers this year, which were among the top 10 for freshman in the nation.
"I'm just a hard worker," he said. "I was really proud of the freshmen All-American accomplishment but I still have high goals for myself and I'm just ready to achieve them."
Many probably recognize North for his one-handed grab that set up the game winning field goal to beat then No. 11 South Carolina. He also made waves when a photograph of his diving touchdown snag against Georgia circulated around social media outlets.
Not one for the publicity, North says he's still just focused on honing his craft.
"I really just want to immerse myself completely, just go hard every time and get better overall," he said.
Sutton, like North, made numerous big plays in his first season in Knoxville. Sutton along with Justin Coleman has a talented class of defensive backs to prepare for SEC football including early enrollee freshmen D'Andre Payne and Emmanuel Moseley.
"Just to have that one year of experience under my belt helps me to push the younger guys and know what to expect," said Sutton. "I'm still young as well, so I'm using that to just motivate and push myself as well."
The sophomore from Jonesboro, Ga. Played exceptionally well as a freshmen. He had two interceptions and seven pass breakups in 2013 but last year's successes won't satisfy him either.
"Last year was just a stepping stone, I had a couple of great games last year but I know it doesn't stop there," he said. "I have to keep building on where I am now and continue to play.
"I was not satisfied with my year. I knew I could have made a lot more plays than I did, but that comes as a learning tool. Now that I have that one year of experience under my belt, I'll be ready.
Defensive Line Looks to Fill Void
Part of a defensive line's job is to fill the gaps, fill the running lanes and overall just make it difficult for people to get around them.
So far, Williams has been encouraged in what he's seen after the first two days.
"I like our work ethic," he said. "Everybody is working. Everybody is trying to get better every day. I feel like we'll be good."
It of course helps that this is the first time since he's been here that the Volunteers have had the same defensive line position coach.
"Everything is building on each other," Williams said. "Last year there were so many things we had to learn. We had to learn tempo, how Coach wanted us to work, the drills, the transitions between drills and now everything is like clockwork."
Having played in all 12 games last season and recording 18 total tackles, Williams could be seen as a veteran to the defensive line.
The senior said that the addition of Owen Williams and the emergence of Danny O'Brian have helped their interior speed and that he likes what the younger players are doing during practice.
"I feel like we were preparing ourselves when the season ended and we've been preparing ourselves this whole offseason," he said. "We know who we have and I feel like we're ready to take it over."
Lane Ready To Lead Team 118
Being a senior on the Tennessee Volunteers football team comes with responsibilities and expectations and running back Marlin Lane is ready to meet and exceed those for Team 118.
Claiming that he's never been much of a vocal leader, Lane decided there was no time like the present to change his demeanor. Lane forewent going home immediately on Christmas break in order to spend more time in the weight room and preparing for the 2014 season.
"I was more laid back, just taking in stuff," Lane said. "Now I'm just trying to give it back out to the younger fellows."
In just their second day of spring practice, the Florida native can already see the race for the running back position, especially amongst the newcomers.
"They bring a lot of competition," said Lane. "We only had four running backs last year at the end of the season and now we have eight to 10. I think that's going to make the role more competitive."
Approaching every practice like it's his last, Lane hopes to leave his mark with this year's football squad.
"Every day, every second, I'm going to just give my all."