Nelson needs knee surgery, won't play in 2008



Tennessee suffered its first setback of fall camp when defensive tackle Chase Nelson was ruled out for the season Thursday. The junior injured his left knee during Tuesday’s practice.

Nelson will undergo season-ending surgery next week to repair a ruptured patella tendon after an MRI Wednesday revealed the damage. He played in just four games last season before suffering a serious wrist injury.

Nelson was being counted on to provide depth in a position of concern for UT.

“It’s a tough loss for us,” UT coach Phillip Fulmer said following Thursday’s practice at Haslam Field. “I feel kind of sorry for him because he’s had one thing after another.”

The loss forces two unproven players to the forefront: sophomore Victor Thomas and freshman Donald Langley. Each is trying to establish himself as one of UT’s top four defensive tackles, as Nelson nearly had done.

Thomas and Langley have a chance to take an early lead in the competition for Nelson’s spot in Saturday’s full-scale scrimmage, the first of fall camp.

“It’s a really big day for us to step up and show the coaches that we’re capable,” said Thomas, who played in two games last season.

Senior Demonte Bolden and junior Dan Williams are the projected starters followed by senior Walter Fisher, who is expected to be the top reserve.

Then, there’s that fourth spot vacated by Nelson.

Defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks spoke highly of Langley’s offseason effort, calling him one of the team’s hardest workers. Other than that, there’s not much to go on.

Langley missed the first two days of practice to be with his mother who was dealing with a “significant medical condition,” according to Fulmer.

Now, Langley is working his way through the NCAA mandated acclimation period in shorts and shoulder pads. Saturday’s scrimmage will be his first practice in full pads.

“We’ll find out a lot about Donald Langley on Saturday to see if he has improved as much as we think he has,” Brooks said.

As for Thomas, Brooks said his consistency and speed need to improve in order for him to be counted on.

Junior defensive end Andre Mathis will slide inside to provide some depth at tackle. Brooks described Mathis as a player who gives great effort but far from a finished product.

“He’s got to buy in and take coaching and he doesn’t play well with his hands right now,” Brooks said of Mathis, who signed with UT as a linebacker in 2005.

Brooks seemed mostly pleased, although not satisfied, with Bolden and Williams.

“I think they have made progress,” Brooks said. “They’re a whole lot different than a year ago because they’ve played a lot of football.

“We were so inexperienced last year.”

Brooks knows he could be facing that scenario again, especially if the injuries don’t stop with Nelson.

“It happens. We know that,” Brooks said. “Defensive tackle is a place where you can’t have enough (depth).”

ape Talk: After reviewing the tape of Wednesday’s scrimmage, Fulmer said he was pleased with several of his speediest players.

“Our two safeties played really well,” Fulmer said, referring to Demetrice Morley and Eric Berry. “Our top four receivers played really well.”

That would be Austin Rogers, Josh Briscoe, Gerald Jones and Lucas Taylor.

Offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said he was particularly impressed with Taylor, who didn’t practice this spring because of a handful of nagging injuries

“I’m really happy that Lucas Taylor is healthy,” Clawson said. “It’s been fun to work with him. He’s a good player.

“He works hard at it and he’s really smart. There’s no question he gave us a little something extra we didn’t have in the spring.”

Install Info: Clawson said UT has installed approximately 90 percent of its new offense. That’s at a lightning pace compared to the slow and steady approach the Vols took in spring practice.

Clawson said all that’s left this preseason is to install specialty packages, such as short-yardage and goalline.

“We wanted to throw a lot in early and see what we’re good at,” Clawson said. “I don’t want to say we’re handling it great but I’m really pleased with it.

“It’s exceeded my expectations how much carryover we’ve had.”

Clawson attributes the carryover to his players’ dedication in voluntary summer workouts.

Once the complete offense is installed and evaluated, which should take about a week, Clawson said he’ll start identifying what the Vols do best and create a more succinct offense for the season.

Slowed and Stopped: Guard Darius Myers admitted he had an advantage Wednesday during the Tennessee Drill when he lined up across from fellow sophomore Ben Martin, one of UT’s speediest defensive ends.

The 240-pound Martin’s game is all but predicated on speed, which doesn’t help when the 315-pound Myers lines up in the Tennessee Drill. As you might expect, Myers won convincingly.

“He’s pretty fast off the edge,” Myers said. “You don’t have to worry about speed (in the Tennessee Drill).”

Following practice, Myers couldn’t help but smile.

“It was real fun to get out there and get some contact in,” he said. “I’ve got a headache right now so I’m still feeling good about myself.”

Get Copyright Permissions © 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Links

Comments » 119

el_duderino writes:

Bummer, get well and come back strong next year.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

That is just about the worst thing that could've happened. Of all the damn positions where we could not afford to lose a guy for the season. DAMN IT!!!!!!!!!

We'll miss ya big guy! Get well soon.

utfpmd writes:

Oh phooey! How many DT's do we have?

IBleedOrange444 writes:


We are very thin at DT. We have two guys that look to be solid starters and Chase was one of the few others that looked like he was going to be ready to step up and give us some good minutes this year. Someone is just going to have to man up and we really can't afford to lose another one... knock on wood.

MrBamSeydu writes:

I seriously wish we'd never recruited this kid. He seemed over-rated at the time, to me, and has done nothing to prove otherwise. This was his 4th season (redshirted) and now he's injured.

Now we're down to 4 DT's and V. Thomas really hasn't proven himself either. Right now is where you'd wish Fulmer and co. would've looked ahead to the future and realized they didn't have enough DT's. Rather than recruiting 487 DB's they should have recognized shortcomings.

If someone else goes down (knock on wood) it's pretty much over for us, especially if it's Bolden or Williams.

longtimefan writes:

What do we do when we run out of d-linemen? wont be the last one we lose! dont see everybody staying healthy with this tough schedule. hope they have a backup plan. my biggest fear and practice just started. OUR DEMISE! (always something)

cjraney writes:


ONUV writes:

recruiting players that don't qualify is a problem, not an excuse. if there's anybody to blame, it's the coaches.

cjraney writes:

I don't wish it on anybody, but UF and AU have already suffered significant losses as well.

gohawks1 writes:

2 DBs = 1 DT. No problem. We're loaded with DBs.

thesavageorange writes:

IBleedOrange444 ,I guess I was wrong about a sprain.Torn patella tendon.They are going to have to play Ayers inside alot more now, so someone will have to step up at DE.

smokey90 writes:

sjt your right about Melancon, Hall and don't forget Sykes. Melcancon was the biggest bust. And Nelson was probably 6th, but I thought we really need six DTs.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

I thought that Nelson was going to be the 1st one in off the bench. Who do I have him confused with?

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Walter Fisher, to answer my own question.

gohawks1 writes:

Is Rae Sykes on again or off again? I thought he was ready to go this year.

cjraney writes:

So we should probably expect to see G. Williams getting time at DE to compensate for Ayers shifting inside.

longtimefan writes:

Savage, Waste of talent and speed to play Ayers inside. I think he was ready to become an impact player on the outside. find the biggest guys on campus(300-350lbs) get them to walk on,plug em in the middle and the hell with it!

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Wish it were that easy longtimefan!

gohawks1 writes:

sjt - thanks for the info. Prospective DTs should be standing in line to sign up with the Vols. They're badly needed and would have the opportunity to see immediate playing time.

txsvol#372416 writes:

Our coaches recruit a number of LBs, rather than DTs, because they expect some of the LBs to grow into DEs. And, some of the DEs grow into DTs. If the guys recruited as DTs are too slow, they move to the OL, or to the bench. But, our coaches don't want to recruit DTs unless they can play. If they don't qualify initially, maybe prep school or JUCO will qualify them a year or two down the line. Tough break for Chase Nelson. Go Vols! SAVol

longtimefan writes:

IBO, I know its not but this gets so frustrating! every year there seems to be one position on the team that keeps us from being really good. I think the offense is good to go, no problem. but defense? might have trouble stopping the run.

thesavageorange writes:

sjt18 , it's a 50/50 on Hughes.If he doesn't make it(the silver lining) he is in good enough academic shape to go to Hargrave.At worst we lose him 1 yr.As far as converts.....Jarrod Shaw & Brimfield.I stand by what I've always said, I think we will get Myles in the end.His dad handles recruiting ,and we know he likes Tennessee.The only time I see Myles say anything is on my space(secured), and usually he just talks about this
and that.I believe Myles,Brown (said most likely), and a ton of others will be in for the UF game including several 2010 guys.These guys get to know each other pretty well and talk online alot.

longtimefan , they don't have a choice.I believe Gerald Williams is going to look like a savior by seasons end.He is definately ,no question ,moving down to DE now.

thesavageorange writes:

sjt18, if we lose Myles I think it's to LSU.He is originally from the New Orleans area and Myles has made it clear that Steltz is gone and he'll play.

alfrizzle097 writes:

With the good secondary, look for a lot of run blitzing. Williams might end up playing Middle Linebacker so he can get some mo and lay the hit in the hole. Assuming he can read defenses that is. Linebackers probably won't have nearly as much to do with pass coverage as they did last year.

With the ends being so athletic, we should be able to force qb's to step up at the least. If the DTs can just occupy one person each, the linebackers should be free to rush. Won't be great if the DTs don't have a lot of depth, but it won't be the end of the world. Trust in Chavis. The ability to play man will be huge.

Ironcity writes:

I have never heard so much whining over a third string tackle in my life. If we had lost a starter, or a player who has made an impact before, I might be more concerned. Our issues are no better and no worse. Langley will do fine and we really only need 4 DT at the most.

thesavageorange writes:

Posted by thesavageorange on August 7, 2008 at 8:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

sjt18, if we lose Myles I think it's to LSU.He is originally from the New Orleans area and Myles has made it clear that Steltz is gone and he'll play.

I meant that Les Miles has made it clear.

longtimefan writes:

Ironcity, Its not whining. Its called concern. im glad you think we dont have a problem with depth.could become a BIG problem with another injury or two.(HEAVEN FORBID!)

invisiblekid writes:

Bad news at the position at which we could least afford it. Hopefully, Nelson makes a full recovery.

Ironcity, Coach Fulmer disagrees with you:

"UT coach Phillip Fulmer said he would like to play five tackles and five ends this fall."

Third string or not, Nelson was part of the plans and it's within the realm of possibility that another injury could happen over the course of a season.

Starting to wonder if it's time to give the 3-4 another look. If Williams lives up to expectations, he could be a real weapon as a stand up guy or playing with his hand on the ground.

longtimefan writes:

RichRollin, I see your point but we might need Gerald to play linebacker. im not sold on the linebackers either until i see that first game. we have got to get some pressure on the quarterback so our dbs dont get hung out to dry. i think they have a chance to be special.

VolsorCat writes:

I think it is time to start looking at those "former" d lineman riding the bench on offense. Didn't Brimfield and Richard come here at DT's? Surely to God they can find some depth at DT, even if they just clog things up. Williams and Bolden will start. Fisher, Langley and Thomas are off the bench. Montori Hughes may have to play immediately. Outside of that, there are walk on DT's, which might work in CUSA, but not against Florida, Bama or Georgia. Use the last 8 scholarships in 2009 for DT's and DE's. They could play immediately......

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Dang, is the bell toiling in pre-season?

Sorry for the lad, this one hurts.

longtimefan writes:

VolsorCat, 230lb linemen wont cut it either in the SEC.havnt they already converted a couple of linebackers to de? remember they like small speedy backers. i wouldnt count on Montori. he's a project.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

How 'bout Robert Meachem. 2 Catches 57 yards at the half! Can you say Wide Receiver U?

VolsorCat writes:

Longtime: Lineman, not linebackers Richard is 295 and Brimfield is 6'6" 300+. I was being sarcastic about the walk on's. Just trying to make a joke about a depressing situation.

invisiblekid writes:

VolsorCat, correct on Brimfield and Richard. I think Richard has become too much of a valuable commodity on the O line to make the move back. I would think they might take a look at Brimfield on d line again as a last resort. If they felt he could cut it, they wouldn't have made the move in the first place.

invisiblekid writes:

Not too far removed from the truth in talking about walk-ons on the defensive line, anyone remember Matt McGlothlin?

longtimefan writes:

Volsorcat, I know they are linemen but i was thinking of the Cris's, Walker and Donald i think.are they not de's now?

invisiblekid writes:

One last note, Hughes hasn't made it through the NCAA clearinghouse(not to be confused with the publisher's) as of Monday.

orangebloodgmc writes:

Y'all take it easy. Before this happened our coaches said they planned to play 5 guys at DT. After losing Nelson, here are 5: Bolden, D.Williams, Fisher, Langley and V.Thomas. The Tennessean article said that Langley had the best "motor" and that Thomas had made the most improvement in offseason weight room. Sounds like Bolden may finally be getting motivated and another article said Fisher is ready to challenge for one of the 2 starting spots. I am seeing 5 DTs. Then if one of those should get hurt, THEN Ayers could slide over some to give 'em a breather, but don't see it required right now.

young_vol writes:

I just read the post and not to sound sensitive but but stop all the negativity. this kid didn't go out there and say gee I'd like to have season ending injury today. I feel for this kid my brother had the same injury kast year in high school and it is painful phiysically but more mentally cause u work so hard and it all gets taken away in one play. that's why u play every down like its ur last. nelson stay up baby come back next year and be the best damn d tackle in the land.screw all the negative fans. go vols!!!

longtimefan writes:

orangeblood, they've been saying that about Fisher for two years now. seems like they cant decide where to play Thomas and Langley has no experience. I dont want to be a pessimist but how can anybody think this line will be any better than last year.(total flop)hope im wrong!

orangebloodgmc writes:

Longtime, I think Langley was injured some last year; I know Nelson was. They say Bolden has a new attitude. All of them are stronger, with strength coach Johnny Long singling out Langley for mention before anybody else as to weight room progress. Do you think these guys will have backslid and be worse than last year? Do you think they will be a year less mature and less experienced? We're not predicting miracles, just an increment better, to go along with our secondary that should be significantly better and lbs -- who knows, maybe about same, as a unit.

budrhon writes:

Can anyone tell me what's going on with Darius Myers? Is he too slow to move to the Defense?

orangebloodgmc writes:

Oh,and I forgot the DEs. It sure sounds like they will be more athletic and fast, and if they put more pressure on the ball, I would think it would help the DTs as would better coverage from the dbs.

longtimefan writes:

younganddumbvol, Did you lose your fooler? who dont feel for this kid? and these posts has nothing to do with your brother. grow up!

longtimefan writes:

orangeblood, I think they are better, sure but how much? how many plays can Bolden and williams go a game? my main concern is depth.THE UNKNOWN

pammyvol1000 writes:

Savage your amazing.. where do you get all this info?

longtimefan writes:

Rich, Look how long its taken Bolden! wasnt he a 5* and will he be the man this year? someone else on here said we could get some top recruits for the line next year and play as freshmen. next year? freshmen? we need them now so our defense wont end up being our weakfense!

orangebloodgmc writes:

So far we got a juco guy, Herbert, coming in next year, and if Montori Hughes has to go the prep school route he'd be a second one, but a year older than a true frosh. Chillax dudes.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

"ape talk" ??? wtf is that??? jeez, the season hasn't statted, and they are calling Phil an ape??
this from me, the king of typos.

"ape Talk: After reviewing the tape of Wednesday’s scrimmage, Fulmer said he was pleased with several of his speediest players.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.