Chuck Smith developed defensive line philosophy from many teachers

The list of influences is seemingly endless, and Chuck Smith doesn't appear ready to stop adding to it anytime soon.

The education of a coach never ends, and the evolution of the Tennessee defensive line coach and his position is ongoing as well.

The lessons have come from some of the most respected coaches in the game, and Smith can rattle the names off easily. Buddy and Rex Ryan. Dan Reeves. John Harbaugh.

They've come from brilliant offensive minds - from the NFL's Quarterback Club to former UT offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. They've come from the masters of his old job as a sack machine, taking pieces of advice from Derrick Thomas, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Karl Mecklenburg and many more.

Smith tries hard not to leave anybody out or place more emphasis on any one person over another, but it's easy to see where the former UT star might have laid the foundation for his future career as a coach. It started not far from where his office is now, early on a Sunday morning in 1990 waiting for a Mercedes Benz to pick him up at Gibbs Hall.

"I got here and introduced myself to Reggie White and told him he was one of the reasons I came to UT," Smith said. "And he just said, 'What's up Chuckie Smith?'

"He said, 'If you meet me at the front of Gibbs Hall, young son, at six in the morning, I'll teach you how to pass rush.' The next day, just like a man of his word, he took me out on the field and taught me the art of pass rush as he knew it, taught me his defensive philosophy."

It's certainly a part of the Chuck Smith philosophy still, along with bits and pieces of all the others he soaked up over the years - both in the NFL as a terror at defensive end and on the sidelines over the last few years.

Of course, Smith also has his own ideas about how to play the position, and he's already used it to help groom a handful of pros with an approach that has been crafted with some help but is still distinctly his own. He's now turning his attention back to his alma mater, trying to launch the Vols and his old position to new heights in the process.

"I didn't learn it from reading it in a book or seeing it on film," Smith said. "I learned it from the greatest speed-rusher of all time in Derrick Thomas. Hands from Ed 'Too Tall' Jones. Spin move from Bruce Smith. I've had a great potpourri and mixture and I believe that's the wave of the future.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to lots of teachers. I've been groomed to be a winner. There have been so many greats to work with, and then you get to where I am today, which is putting in some of my vision when it comes to pass rush with things I've invented and developed that nobody else is doing. This is an evolution, and part of what I want to do is evolve the defensive line into the 21st century."

That process is fairly involved, including everything from better moves in the trenches to becoming more comfortable in coverage as zone-blitzes become more prevalent. And it won't happen overnight for the Vols, which Smith readily acknowledges.

But it appears to start with an aggressive, physical mindset that Smith likely didn't need to learn from somebody else.

"Defensive linemen have to quit thinking they are just defensive linemen - you are special," he said. "They have to have vision. They have to be able to turn in space. They have to be able to cover, they have to be able stop the run and be able to rush. Nobody has as much responsibility as we do. It's the one position that hasn't changed in the last 90 years, but everybody is bigger, faster and stronger. So there are different techniques you have to develop.

"I've learned from all these people, but I do things the Chuck Smith Way. Everything I've learned, it's just like anything else, I learned from a teacher. But also you learn how to do things in your own way."

The Chuck Smith Way has had its share of influences, and it's taken a generation to put it all together. Now he's ready to pass it on to the next wave of Vols, just like White did 20 years ago for Smith.

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Comments » 12

Bloodrunzorange writes:

Good stuff!! I am very glad Chuck is a Vol! If I was a d- line prospect there is no other place I would rather be! Thanks Coach Smith!! GBO!!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

I got chills while reading about his experience working with Reggie White.

Down_The_Field writes:

chuck smith's the man.

he's coaching the most important position on the field and he's better than the last d-line coach we had. period.

oh, i forgot. he has 100 times more class and loyalty. period.

MidTennVol writes:

Wow, great story, Austin. Well-written with great quotations from Smith. Good stuff.

nola_vol writes:

As CCS now implements his philosophy on less-mature bodies than he has in the past, the Achilles issue will bring new scrutiny.

This is not a complaint, or a problem--just a fact that Vol fans should anticipate supportively.

I'd rather have a coaching staff forced to internally evaluate innovative new approaches for possible dangers, than one forced to evaluate time-worn techniques to see if they've become obsolete.

ravensearay writes:

I can't wait to see the defense that Wilcox, Thompson and Smith put on the field. You can rest assured of one thing - they will be prepared!!! GO VOLS!!!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to VandyGrad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When was the last time Vandy EVER had a 5-star recruit? As usual, your smack carries no weight!

BillyVol writes:

in response to VandyGrad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am about to get mad, and never have on this site.
You would make a great meter reader, but nothing else. Your kind are not welcome on this site, and I know you have not changed anyone's mind, and heart. Chuck Smith will turn out 5 star studs for the NFL before he is finished here. The only thing you have turned out is animosity because you cannot, and never will be a favored VOL fan.

Bloodrunzorange writes:

in response to BillyVol:

I am about to get mad, and never have on this site.
You would make a great meter reader, but nothing else. Your kind are not welcome on this site, and I know you have not changed anyone's mind, and heart. Chuck Smith will turn out 5 star studs for the NFL before he is finished here. The only thing you have turned out is animosity because you cannot, and never will be a favored VOL fan.

BillyVol and all Vols: Do not let the interlopers bother you... especially this guy bother you! It is only a troll! Don't reply to these bozo's! GBO!!!

EverydayVol writes:

in response to Bloodrunzorange:

BillyVol and all Vols: Do not let the interlopers bother you... especially this guy bother you! It is only a troll! Don't reply to these bozo's! GBO!!!

I agree!
These trolls post trash on here all the time, if we don't reply and give them the attention they need, they will go away! GBO!

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

I am so excited about football, just trying to wince past this season, then all will improve.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Any High School "D" lineman that wouldn't want to come to UT and learn under CCS is just dumb.

Coach em up to knock em down!

GO BIG ORANGE!!!

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