Notebook: Cleared to play at last, Walls fills need

Marlon Walls is finally eligible to play football at the University of Tennessee. UT assistant head coach Ed Orgeron can appreciate that almost as much as Walls.

“We’re just so happy for Marlon and his family that after all the hard work he’s done, he’s finally got the chance to play for Tennessee,” Orgeron said after a Thursday afternoon practice. “There was a lot of work done on everyone’s part.

“We feel like Tennessee is the right place for Marlon to get a great education. We’re confident that Marlon is going to have success here.”

Walls is a much different player than the one Orgeron first recruited as the head coach at Ole Miss. Back then, Walls was a 215-pound linebacker at Wooddale High School in Memphis.

He’s done a lot of traveling since then. And added a few pounds along the way.

Now, he’s a 6-foot-2, 290-pound lineman, who could provide depth to a thin defensive front.

“He’ll probably going to play tackle,” Orgeron said. “From what I could see, he’s in pretty good condition but he hasn’t worked out with us one time. But we feel like he will bring some quickness inside.”

Orgeron is surprised at the size of the former linebacker.

“We see guys throughout our career (who become much bigger),” Orgeron said. “He didn’t look like he had the body type.

“But you sure want guys who have athletic ability like that. So we’re excited.”

So is Walls, who was back home in Olive Branch, Miss., when he got the news.

“I’m hitting the road tonight,” he told the News Sentinel by phone Thursday afternoon. “I’m ready to roll.”

His journey to UT has been anything but direct.

He transferred to Olive Branch for his senior year of high school, committed to Ole Miss, then signed with the Vols. When he didn’t qualify academically, he enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy, where he played last season.

He re-signed with UT in February.

Tight Competition: Starting jobs are up for grabs almost everywhere, but the competition is especially close at tight end between Luke Stocker and Jeff Cottam.

“It changes daily who the starter is,” head coach Lane Kiffin said. “That’s exactly how I want it.

“The competition has made them both better. Both are definitely playing better than they were in the spring. They’re playing better in the run game especially.”

Stocker left practice early with an ice pack on the inside of his right foot, but after practice said he was OK.

Punter Praise: Kiffin is gaining confidence in junior punter Chad Cunningham,

“His numbers have been really good compared to the spring,” Kiffin said. “He really had a good off-season.”

Cunningham said this has been his best preseason camp.

“I’m a totally different punter than I was last year,” Cunningham said. “Consistency wise and hang-time wise, I’m so much better.”

Cunningham averaged 39.5 yards per punt in the first five games when starter Britton Colquitt was suspended last season. Two of his punts were blocked.

Safety Dance: Prentiss Waggner continues to see plenty of first-team snaps at safety alongside All-American Eric Berry. Defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza said Waggner has the inside track to land the starting job over junior Dennis Rogan because of experience at the position.

Rogan has started 12 games for the Vols, but all of those starts were at cornerback. Waggner practiced solely at safety in the spring while Rogan was at corner.

“He had a good spring, and he’s really stepped up now,” Garza said. “So I would say that Prentiss would have an advantage because he’s played the position all through the spring and Dennis Rogan didn’t.

“But Dennis is a very smart football player, very intelligent, has great savvy, and understanding of the game. It didn’t take him long to pick it up, but it’s still a learning process for him.”

UT is also taking a look at freshman Janzen Jackson at safety, along with senior walk-on Derrick Furlow, whom Garza complimented.

Rogan isn’t seeing anytime at corner, Garza said, but a move back would be natural.

“Oh yeah,” Garza said, “He’s got the skills to go out and play corner.”

Practice Report: Quarterback Nick Stephens threw a couple of interceptions. Jackson and redshirt freshman safety Rod Wilks had the two interceptions. ... The offense struggled to run the ball in an early session, but was more successful later. Senior Montario Hardesty had the best day of the running backs.

Injury Update: Starting defensive tackles Dan Williams and Wes Brown both returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday night’s practice. Starting defensive end Chris Walker also returned.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.

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Comments » 33

trooper4prezz writes:

1st

smashmouth98 writes:

Walls will be a huge addition. We need to contiue to develop depth at DL!!

It's good to hear that Cunningham has improved. We would be in trouble if he hadn't.

IT will be interesting to see how the secondary shakes out, considering all of our options. I wonder if they'll have a package similar to the Mustang.

VolGraduate writes:

Can't wait to see Marlon and the new look Vols!!!!!

Smallmike4pres writes:

in response to smashmouth98:

Walls will be a huge addition. We need to contiue to develop depth at DL!!

It's good to hear that Cunningham has improved. We would be in trouble if he hadn't.

IT will be interesting to see how the secondary shakes out, considering all of our options. I wonder if they'll have a package similar to the Mustang.

SHUT YOUR MOUTH!!! MAY WE NEVER HEAR THAT WORD MENTIONED WITH UT FOOTBALL AGAIN.

IamScaredOfTrees writes:

in response to Smallmike4pres:

SHUT YOUR MOUTH!!! MAY WE NEVER HEAR THAT WORD MENTIONED WITH UT FOOTBALL AGAIN.

Amen to that brother.

voloffaith writes:

in response to trooper4prezz:

1st

Recess is over children, Do you wany to be line leader layla v?

On topic. happy for Marlon and his family. GO VOLS!!!

cloudodust writes:

Walls is heading up to Knoxville. Hurry, we need the depth. Why is it I can see a former LB coming in at 290 as a probable DT that can close on RB's laterally or get up or downfield without gassing after 20 yards..?

stayingorange writes:

getting Walls cleared could be huge if he performs as well as I've read he could. He has time to get in the practice time.

Wish Green would work out too but it doesn't seem likely.

hotrodvol writes:

Welcome Walls. That's great knews for both parties.

beachvol1 writes:

Walls not only has the size, he also has great athletic abiltiy...moves really well....this is a great addition...

OakyVol09 writes:

Congrats Mr. Walls. Make the most of this opportunity. We sure need you.

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

Imagine the speed rush we could put on the field now on 3rd and long! Martin, Walker, Walls, Hughes, even G. Williams and Sykes! Speed kills, baby! Also, Waggoner and Rogan at safety with Berry in the nickel coming on blitzes and dropping into coverage, noone will have a clue what EB will be doing! Frickin' awesome!

tennezz writes:

Walls will be our fastest DT since Reggie White! This guy can run!

SeaBass writes:

marlon walls im so happy for you,it took awhile but my man your here now.make us proud man you have the heart.we will follow you to the end, good luck

xvolx writes:

I understand we actually have a special teams coach. Fulmer never saw the need.

FWBVol writes:

It's good that this young man's patience has paid off and that he will be able to follow his dream. I'm glad to see him wearing the Orange and White.

ravensearay writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for the link Bob.....You're right----What a great read!!!!

dvols writes:

glad you finally made it Walls, 290?? hmmmm..hope that is good weight!

ItIsMeToo writes:

I can't remember the last time I was so dang excited for Volunteer football. No we won't be National Champs (though I've been wrong before!), but hopefully this is the start of a brand new, NFL pit stop program...

cheeze writes:

Walls reminds me of a former UT line coach, name of Burney. Did you ever see the guy? He walked on at UTC and ended up all southern conf. for three years at DT. Was a LB and running back in HS. Lead off man on the 440 relay team that ran in the state finals. Played at 250 lbs, speed kills.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to VOLstuckINky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Watch out for lsu.

Beleive what you will,but the cheif is an excelent def cord. and nobody has put more lb's in the nfl than coach Chavis.

Not harping on our curent staff,I'm excited as h#ll to see what the Vols are going to do this year.If we had to replace the chief,replacing him with a nfl defensive legend should work out fine.

How many days till I get to see someone in orange rip the head off of someone that aint?

gnm53108 writes:

Welcome aboard Marlon.

May all your orange dreams come true.

Go VOLS!

gbeejr#1354500 writes:

in response to dvols:

glad you finally made it Walls, 290?? hmmmm..hope that is good weight!

A very good point. I live down here in MS and saw Walls play against power house South Panola and Walls looked tall and skinny at 215 lbs. I'm shocked that a young kid as quick and fast as he was (he played all over the field - would even split out to cover receivers) could gain that much weight (over 70lbs) that quickly and it not be a lot of fat. He looked like then that he would grow into a de, but I'm very surprised he got this big this fast. Anyway, if he hasn't lost a lot of foot speed then he'll be far and away the fastest dt we've had in many years.

Volomatic writes:

70 lbs is a big difference, but considering he did it at a military academy over the coarse of a year while playing ball I don't think you have to worry about it being fat. He's going to show up today and shock people. He has some built up frustration going on with this clearinghouse nonsense, and is going to come in ready to prove himself.
He will be very helpful this season at a very thin position.

GerryOP writes:

22 -- Fear The Kiffin...

StroVol writes:

Crompton fumbles first snap from center this morning, immdiately yanked. WTF? You would think after all this time he would have that down. He must love to give fans something to talk about.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to StroVol:

Crompton fumbles first snap from center this morning, immdiately yanked. WTF? You would think after all this time he would have that down. He must love to give fans something to talk about.

Talk about?

How about a reason for our ulcers.

davethevol writes:

in response to StroVol:

Crompton fumbles first snap from center this morning, immdiately yanked. WTF? You would think after all this time he would have that down. He must love to give fans something to talk about.

phooey, I wonder what's going with the exchange if this is true.

CladnBigOrange writes:

anyone heard any news about Cam Newton lately?

VolGraduate writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Recess is over children, Do you wany to be line leader layla v?

On topic. happy for Marlon and his family. GO VOLS!!!

you should change your name to "vol4hypocricy"

johnlg00 writes:

in response to gnm53108:

Watch out for lsu.

Beleive what you will,but the cheif is an excelent def cord. and nobody has put more lb's in the nfl than coach Chavis.

Not harping on our curent staff,I'm excited as h#ll to see what the Vols are going to do this year.If we had to replace the chief,replacing him with a nfl defensive legend should work out fine.

How many days till I get to see someone in orange rip the head off of someone that aint?

Agree that the Chief was a great DC. There is a considerable body of opinion that the extensive use of the M_______(don't want to swear here!) package was more Fulmer's idea than Chief's. That line of thinking goes that if the defense was putting on pressure to make plays, it was Chief's idea; when it was laid back trying to keep everything in front of them, it was CPF's idea. I don't know, I'm just sayin'.

bluetick writes:

Make the most of it Marlon! Here is your chance to shine big boy. In the past didn't the punters go to some kind of schooling to help them with their punting? Or was that something they did on their own?

All we need is a freaking QUARTERBACK!

Voluvr writes:

Here's the deal. USC has a QB that is going to start as a Freshman. This means Jessie is NOT going to play there. He can start here with the best receivers corp in the country.

At Tennessee he's a pro in 4 yrs.
At USC he's getting his first start in 4 yrs. Unless another upcoming stud beats him out.

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