#VolReport: From Rookies To Veterans

March 8, 2014

Here are sound bites from the players after Saturday's practice.


"All of them are really competitive and all of them have great ability. I'm just excited to continue to watch the competition."

"I really love Riyahd. He's got the heart of lion. To go through what he went through and to still have that mental toughness to come compete - Riyahd is going to be good.""

""Josh Malone is a very competitive guy. He reminds me of myself. We're in the same age group but I still say I really like Josh a lot."


"It's awesome. We've kind of breezed through these first few installs and it's great to not have to relearn a bunch of new things for this new offseason. Last year, yes there was a learning curve for everybody, but having that continuity like you said is incredible to be able to build to this year from last year."

"They bring a lot of competition. 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.

"I see them working every day at each position. They get moved around from tackle to guard to center and they know every position on the field and they're working well. Every day they progress."


"They are very competitive and that is going to take us very far in the end. We're always about competing. We preach that a lot in our meetings, coaching staff preaches it, and even just for ourselves. We need to compete against each other to make the game easier for ourselves."

"It's just our support staff. Our coaches support us and we have our big brothers. My big brother last year was (Brain) Randolph, and this year I'm big brother to D'Andre Payne. I think support and push to keep going is motivation to stay in film, keep going, don't stop, and that played a big role in it."


"I am focused on the little things, everything that coach Strip instills in us. Our defensive line values and our defensive values. Little things and big things like sprinting to the ball, getting my technique right, physicality in the run game and pass game. I am focused on everything and getting the team better. That is the whole goal. Consistency and performance making the whole team better as a unit."

"I am trying to focus on the little things especially in the run game. I was not in on the run plays last year as much as I should have, so focusing on the run plays and the techniques of the run plays. Knowing more football, studying my position, the other positions, linebacker position, and knowing everything that is going on out on the field."

"I take a lot of pride. It is your craft. It is what you are doing. You came here to get a degree and play football. Every day I come in here and focus on those things. Even if it is a day you don't feel good, you still got to lock in and do it."


"Yes. Every spot is always up for grabs. Coming in the summer, these guys are going to be behind from the freshmen that we have now. If they can get it, they can help us. We need everybody."

"From when we got back in our first defensive line meeting and I looked around and said, just thinking, my freshman year, I didn't come here with any of these guys. These guys are brand new to me. I always had Jacques Smith, Corey Miller and Marlon Walls and Daniel Hood always in front of me. Those were the guys you look up to and now they're gone, so it's just me out there.

"I see them and I've been in their shoes. I'm more comfortable now. I know what I need to do and I know what they need to do and I'm just trying to help them along."


"For me it has been going pretty good. I had a pretty good winter conditioning, got some things figured out mentally. For everybody else it is going really good too. We just have to, like coach has been saying, is stay consistent throughout these next 13 practices or so. These young guys just have to keep coming along mentally."


"I just make sure every day I bring it like always, nothing had really changed. I bring it every day. I make sure I can bring someone along with me. The whole offensive line is really working hard and we are just holding each other accountable. There is not really that much that has changed since last year."

"We call came with a workman's mentality this year. We are just working and working and working. That is all we are doing."

Photo Gallery

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Volunteers' youth was on display last year. Fourteen freshmen saw action in 2013, but none made more of an impact than freshmen All-Americans Marquez North and Cameron Sutton.

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.

With the graduation of key defensive lineman such as Daniel Hood, Daniel McCullers and Jacques Smith, all roads lead to players like Jordan Williams stepping in to fill those "gaps" left behind.

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."​





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