McCoy and 'a lot of wide eyes' at linebacker

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Here’s the checklist for those wishing to play linebacker at Tennessee:

- Play with great effort.

- Be physical.

- Know your stuff.

So far so good on the first two directives, said linebackers coach Lance Thompson following practice Tuesday. It’s No. 3 that could still use some work.

“Right now we’re doing a lot of instillation so the guys are kind of swimming,” Thompson said. “… We’ve got one guy that’s played ‘Game Time’ ball in the SEC where it mattered.

“We’ve got a lot of wide eyes right now.”

That one guy Thompson spoke of is Rico McCoy, the senior who has started 27 games for the Vols. McCoy is UT’s leading returning tackler with 87 takedowns last year — good for second on the team in 2008.

McCoy was a solid weakside linebacker last season. Most believed his athletic ability best suited him to play that position again in 2009. Not UT’s new coaching staff.

In one of few position moves made before spring practice began, McCoy was switched to strongside linebacker in hopes of capitalizing on his athletic ability — both in pass coverage and as a pass rusher.

McCoy has played all three linebacker positions at UT. If there is ever a time to experiment with UT’s lone, known linebacker commodity, it is now.

“He’s played inside so he can always go back and play inside,” Thompson said. “We’re going to see what he can learn outside so we have some versatility there. If he’s got some flexibility, that helps us.”

McCoy wasn’t jumping for joy when he was told of the change. However, Thompson said he’s been pleased with McCoy’s acceptance.

Now, McCoy seems energized by the switch as his confidence grows during every practice.

“I’m picking it up on the fly,” the 6-foot-1, 221-pound McCoy said. “I’m getting the gist of it. They’re doing a great job coaching me, keeping it simple.

“Having that knowledge (of) playing all three positions, you’re ready for whatever comes your way.”

UT’s new coaching staff promised McCoy he’d have better opportunities to rush the passer when he made the move to strongside. Often times they said, McCoy would be matched up on running backs — the quarterback’s last line of defense and usually a favorable matchup for any linebacker.

McCoy is seeing that promise come to fruition this spring as he and his teammates better comprehend UT’s new defensive scheme.

“I’m looking forward to that this season, getting a lot of pass rushing one-on-one with the fullback or the tailback,” McCoy said. “That is one thing that has changed with my position. I’m going to try to take advantage of that this year and get me a couple of sacks this year.”

ANOTHER LINEBACKER?

As UT’s coaches try to find McCoy’s best position, they’re also trying to find two other linebackers to start alongside him.

Nick Reveiz has seen plenty of first team snaps during spring practice. The junior played in all 12 games last season, starting one.

The former Farragut High School standout may have been an unquestioned starter had the Vols not changed coaches. A former walk-on, Reveiz had proved himself to UT’s old staff, especially on the practice field.

Now, Reveiz must do the same with the new staff.

So far, so good.

“I think Nick had done an outstanding job with us,” Thompson said. “He’s a very intelligent guy. He’s a very intense guy. He’s probably our most physical linebacker. I’ve been very pleased with Nick.”

Thompson said he has no issues with Reveiz’s talent — except for one small one, his height. Reveiz is listed at a generous 5-10, but is one of the strongest players on the team.

“We’ve seen Zach Thomases (and) Sam Mills,” Thompson said, referring to short, successful linebackers in the NFL. “The deal is ‘Execute the defense.’ To this point, he’s done a pretty good job of that.”

Redshirt freshman Herman Lathers also has a shot at middle linebacker.

“We’ve got to get him more into the physical part of the game and the intensity part of the game,” Thompson said.

That’s not a problem for LaMarcus Thompson at weakside linebacker. The junior has seen plenty of time with the first team.

“He can fly around and he can hit guys,” McCoy said.

Yet it will take more from LaMarcus Thompson to appease his coach.

“Will (weakside linebacker) has got to be a playmaker for us,” coach Thompson said of LaMarcus Thompson. “I want to see him in some scrimmage situations.

“The really good linebackers nowadays have that sixth sense, that cat sense where their instincts take over. That’s what I want to see out of these young guys.”

The Vols have other options at linebacker with sophomores Daryl Vereen and Josh Hawkins and junior Savion Frazier. UT could also utilize junior Gerald Williams if he doesn’t eventually find a more permanent home at defensive end.

If UT’s coaches can’t find a duo to play alongside McCoy by the end of spring practice, there is help coming. The Vols signed four linebackers for the 2009 signing class: Jerod Askew, Greg King, Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and Robert Nelson.

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Comments » 141

Voluvr writes:

First?

Voluvr writes:

First.

stayingorange writes:

We're going to have a great D again this year.

Voluvr writes:

Suckers!

smokyredbone writes:

Where is Chris Donald? 5* stud or 5* dud? Not even a mention here I was hoping Fulmer just didn't like him!GO VOLS!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Decent LBs behind very good DTs = SEC rings.

Anyone old enuf to remember them?

dvhill100 writes:

They have always been physical. I see that only getting better and more blitzing and pressure on the quarterback. I can't see anyone scheming the D any better than MK.

I don't know about anyone else, but the UT-UCLA game with MK on one side and NC (Norm Chow) on the other. A live coaching clinic right in front of our eyes.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Decent LBs behind very good DTs = SEC rings.

Anyone old enuf to remember them?

SEC rings?

Dare we dream?

VAvolfanRON writes:

3 great articles in a row!!....nice KNS

Voluvr writes:

in response to dvhill100:

They have always been physical. I see that only getting better and more blitzing and pressure on the quarterback. I can't see anyone scheming the D any better than MK.

I don't know about anyone else, but the UT-UCLA game with MK on one side and NC (Norm Chow) on the other. A live coaching clinic right in front of our eyes.

I guarantee you too that if they start dumping underneath coverage, MK adjusts and pulls up coverage immediately, not hoping they start throwing deep back into our coverage like last time.

Rick4UT writes:

The tatters will have trouble putting up points on this D.
I hope the gator fans that spy on this site will keep
taking their meds. GO VOLS!!!!!!!

GahLee writes:

what about Gerald Williams? Is at end now or what? Also, someone mentioned Chris Donald, where does he fit in? We always seem to have great LB's...hope this year is no different.

randzimm#255981 writes:

Hey guys, Gatorz394999292983848 will be on here in a moment to paste his comments from the other blogs he posted on...LMAO

So, I'll paste something myself...

http://gate21.net/wp-content/gallery/...

Txvol57 writes:

Where is Chris Donald?......his he another Daniel Brooks?

randzimm#255981 writes:

Playing the correct gap assignment and reading the ball is what makes a good linebacker. I feel that Coach Monte can take these guys and step them up to another level, if not this year, then the next for sure. Some of the best LB's are not necessarily the most athletic. Look at New England, with the exception of this past year with Mayo, they played with aging LB's, but these guys knew where to be every play, but then there was that issue with the filming...LOL

volunteer11 writes:

we are so deep at linebacker and running back. all of our running backs are really good. hardesty, lennon creer, tauren poole is supposedly pretty good, david oku, and i dont even need to say the other one

volsmith writes:

What's the story on Chris Donald? Big recruit a couple of years ago and I've never heard his name mentioned in regards to playing time.

ut18vols writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

haha I like!

99gator writes:

it will take time fellas.

GahLee writes:

Next Lawrence Taylor? Your joking right.

belayvol writes:

Hacksaw Reynolds! Let's cut a car in half. Go Vols.

99gator writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

naval

i don't think tenn is bankrupt in talent....but a quick return to sec contender.....i don't think so.

tenn has no d-line, no o-line, no proven qb.

this article mentions the possibility of nick reveiz playing.

nick reveiz would be handing players juice boxes at florida, georgia, bama and lsu.

they don't have it yet. not saying they won't get there. but, they don't have it yet.

belayvol writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Him, Jamie Walker, Spiva. Raw meat eaters all.

99gator writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

2011 i think is a reasonable expectation

murrayvol writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Decent LBs behind very good DTs = SEC rings.

Anyone old enuf to remember them?

The images are a bit fuzzy. Game films help.

chaos001 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Greg King is a BEAST! Big, FAST, and tenacious!

got to see him play against his soon-to-be teammate marsalis teague during the playoffs. such awesome homegrown talent!

murrayvol writes:

in response to GahLee:

what about Gerald Williams? Is at end now or what? Also, someone mentioned Chris Donald, where does he fit in? We always seem to have great LB's...hope this year is no different.

Can't imagine Williams being anywhere but DE. Chris Donald keeps getting mentioned but never plays.

99gator writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

1. different league. 4 schools in the SEC have been #1 at some point in time in the last 2 seasons. 4

2. the two teams that were more clearly more talented than florida, beat the snot out of florida.

3. steve spurrier was playing football differently from the rest of the league. his strategy allowed him to overcome talent shortcomings.

murrayvol writes:

in response to 99gator:

it will take time fellas.

Some of us are more impatient than others.

99gator writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i think tenn will play kids (the young 'uns) a significant amount of playing time.

which is yet another reason while this will take time.

murrayvol writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There is no next Lawrence Taylor. He should get a stipend from every left tackle in the NFL.

99gator writes:

look, don't anyone misunderstand.....

if tennessee was a stock, i would buy. i don't know how much the stock will soar, but the future for tennessee appears better than before.

most of you all feel that way. of course, i wouldn't expect anyone here to think tennessee's future is in trouble.

but, worst case scenario......kiffin fails but leaves the next coach a lot more talent than he inherited.

best case scenario, tennessee is back where you all want them to be

chaos001 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

there are members on CoachT from Memphis who are more knowledgeable of his abilities.

they're also a little more than biased and think he can walk on water...but they're not too far off in that assumption...a great talent for sure.

gohawks1 writes:

No mention of Chris Donald in the article. Is he a bust?

belayvol writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True that! Are we showing our age here? LOL.

cobbwebb writes:

in response to 99gator:

i think tenn will play kids (the young 'uns) a significant amount of playing time.

which is yet another reason while this will take time.

99gator- you make great points, however let me say this, i would welcome a "young 'un" getting playing time,if he has potential! but we have been used to the status quo, playing a guy, just because he is an upperclassmen, regardless if he is getting the job done!

cobbwebb writes:

99- i am a realist, i try not to get caught up in the hype! this is the reason i am dissappointed in this years bball season, but not as dissappointed as some! i knew we would have growing pains, we lost too many key contributers from last season! so i am trying to be cautiously optimistic here, if kiffin struggles some this season, i will not be ready to "run him outta knoxville! but i do agree that 2011 we should see drastic improvement! that is if kiffin and this staff can live up to their "on paper" resume! imo 8 wins would be a great season for this program and staff! but its jmo!

gohawks1 writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Will he possibly move to DE?

gohawks1 writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

By taking a redshirt year I thought he'd be ready to go by now.

cobbwebb writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i would give anything if CEO could find a d tackle half as good as big john hiding somewhere on the bench!

MrBamSeydu writes:

Wow, Chris Donald is a redshirt Junior now??? Right??? And he still can't get on the field or even a MENTION by the coaches?

What a flop he's turned out to be so far....... just goes to show you that TN high school talent just isn't the same as other states' talent. Sort of like Demonte Bolden. He was supposed to be the next Albert Haynesworth but he never really dominated in any game.

GahLee writes:

Just cause a guy is a walk-on doesn't mean that he couldn't play at any of the schools you mentioned 99...those are the guys with the most heart and desire, usually one of the smarter players on the team as well. People like to say that those teams are just loaded and for the most part they are but UT has great athletes too and for him to get onto the field at UT means that he has the talent to be on the field... not on par with other guys but he has to be pretty good just to get on the field.

GahLee writes:

Albert had Henderson playing next to him...makes it a lot easier to dominate when you got Big John Henderson by your side. Demonte had....Dan Williams?

FWBVol writes:

Here's a thought about the talent we'll have. We did have a Top 3 recruiting class under Fulmer in 2007 and of course this year was a Top 10 class. Even with the down year in recruiting last season we've had some good players come into the program the last few years. The kids that were part of the class with Eric Berry are now juniors or redshirt sophomores and have tasted the battle in the SEC.

I'm not saying we will win the National Championship this year, or even the SEC East, but I do think we have enough football players to contend if the offensive staff can work a little magic.

I know there is room for improvement on defense too, but as far as national rankings, it will be hard to improve on the No. 3 D in the country last year. I believe we will be better defensively though simply because we won't give up the third and long plays.

gohawks1 writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I kept up with him some during his senior year in HS, so I know he has the potential. Just haven't heard much from him since then. He's just a redshirt sophomore, though. I expect we'll see more of him soon.

ctownvol writes:

in response to 99gator:

2011 i think is a reasonable expectation

That is reasonable 99. If we can win 8,9, or heaven forbid 10 next year and be in contention in 2011 I think all Vol fans can live with that coming off of a 5 win season in 08.

Txvol57 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Can't imagine Williams being anywhere but DE. Chris Donald keeps getting mentioned but never plays.

According to Brent Hubbs this morning on 104.5 the Zone in Nashville, Gerald Williams has been moved to DE

Txvol57 writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

Wow, Chris Donald is a redshirt Junior now??? Right??? And he still can't get on the field or even a MENTION by the coaches?

What a flop he's turned out to be so far....... just goes to show you that TN high school talent just isn't the same as other states' talent. Sort of like Demonte Bolden. He was supposed to be the next Albert Haynesworth but he never really dominated in any game.

I don't think Donald was redshirted. But this is his third year because he came in with Berry. If he was RS he would be a RS Sophomore, if not he is a Junior....but he's not a RS junior

Txvol57 writes:

in response to Txvol57:

I don't think Donald was redshirted. But this is his third year because he came in with Berry. If he was RS he would be a RS Sophomore, if not he is a Junior....but he's not a RS junior

I just checked...Donald was a RS in 2007 making him a RS Sophomore this coming season. So he still has a lot of time to develop...if that's the problem. But with the credentials he had coming out of high school he really needs to do something this year

Voluvr writes:

Will Hagerup the kicker we just made an offer to.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9C0p0...

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