Marlon Walls learning another position with an open mind

Jim Chaney talks about the Vols offense after practice on Thursday

None

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee defensive end Marlon Walls runs a drill during practice Friday at Haslam Field.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee defensive end Marlon Walls runs a drill during practice Friday at Haslam Field.

Photo with no caption

Turns out, learning and retaining information about a certain position in football isn't like riding a bike.

At least that's how Tennessee's Marlon Walls, a redshirt sophomore who is now on his third position since high school, puts it.

The linebacker-turned-defensive-tackle-turned-defensive-end didn't know his latest position switch would be permanent when it was sprung upon him in the spring, but he knows it is now. That's why Walls has engrossed himself with all the intricacies and minutiae that comes with being a defensive end, a position of glaring need for the Vols heading into the 2011 season.

"When you transition, you forget so much stuff," Walls said. "If you put me back at linebacker, I probably would get embarrassed out there. As you switch a position, you take so much time spending time on that position, you forget about tackle or linebacker."

Walls checked in at 6-foot-2 and 281 pounds before the start of camp, heights and weights typically associated with players at Walls' former position, tackle. All that means is Walls, who said Friday that he's trimmed down and hopes to play at 275 pounds, is just "a big defensive end," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said.

Some fine-tuning, though, has transpired since he made the switch midway through the spring.

"He carried some weight in the spring that wasn't real good weight and it was hard on him to move and it didn't necessarily help him," Wilcox said. "For his sake and our sake, his best spot is going to be defensive end.

"He's going to be a guy where we still need to figure it out — he may need to be a swing guy. It's just the state of where we're at right now, and that's fine."

With Chris Walker and Gerald Williams gone, and Corey Miller transitioning to tackle, the Vols return just two players — Jacques Smith and Willie Bohannon — who played substantial snaps at defensive end last season. No Vols slated to see time at defensive end this season have ever started in a college game.

That's why Walls, even with his lack of experience and unique build, is currently slated as a co-starter with Bohannon at right end. No matter what transpires over the next month, Walls will have to have a key role on UT's front four by default.

"We have to do a good job of understanding what their role is and putting them in a position where they can help us and try to limit the times they're in a position that doesn't use their strengths," coach Derek Dooley said. "Marlon has done a good job lining up on the tight end, handling the two-back runs, because he's a heavier guy. We need him for that role."

Though his role will focus on run-stopping, Walls showed noticeable excitement Friday when he discussed the additional opportunities he'll now have at getting to opponents' quarterbacks.

As for figuring out how he'll actually get to the quarterback? That's yet to be honed.

"I'm so used to being inside in such a small space that when I get outside I'm used to doing certain moves and I can't do them anymore," Walls said. "I'm just learning how to pass rush more on the outside and having more space, being able to work those moves."

Walls hasn't seen the field since 2009 after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon. He played in just seven games as a freshman, picking up two solo tackles, but he showed enough potential to elicit lofty expectations about his future of manning the middle of UT's defensive line next to Montori Hughes.

Now, Hughes is gone because of academic reasons and Walls is on the end, trying his best to cram yet another position's worth of knowledge under his helmet.

"When they told me (about the switch), they said if it didn't work out, they'd move me back," Walls said. "But I think I'm more comfortable out there, so it's a blessing."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 16

LJS1984 writes:

I've watched Marlon give a few interviews and he comes off as a really smart guy. If anybody can do it, I'm pretty sure he can. The sky's the limit for him, I'm praying he stays healthy.

givehim6 writes:

With the injury going around pays to have as much interchangeable players as we can.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Papermate_Chinese_Bandit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seriously man, really? You guys are on borrowed time.
Lsu is about as over rated a team as there has been in college
Football. We will finish the job this year.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Interesting isn't it? We can have a topic of cookie baking by the coaches' wives, and within the first 1 or 2 responses on the subject, you will see comments by a troll...........

Never fails.

allvol32 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

Interesting isn't it? We can have a topic of cookie baking by the coaches' wives, and within the first 1 or 2 responses on the subject, you will see comments by a troll...........

Never fails.

I saw a cartoon the other day that pictured a perv in a public restroom writing stupid graffiti on the stall walls and the caption was:

"The secret inspiration that led to the creation of the internet was so that stupid people could write offensive things anonymously."

I'm pretty sure that these pathetic losers would be trolling public restrooms writing their bilge on the walls while snickering like Uncle Fester if there were no internet.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Marlon is a major player, just has to stay healthy. Still wondering why we are not hearing anything about the Texas LB who committed to Tennessee yeaterday. Dude is a manchild.

SavTnVol writes:

in response to Papermate_Chinese_Bandit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LSU, the Notre Dame of the SEC..........O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D......

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Marlon is a major player, just has to stay healthy. Still wondering why we are not hearing anything about the Texas LB who committed to Tennessee yeaterday. Dude is a manchild.

yea, good point. i watched the kid on youtube last night and he is a beast. huge pick up of us. HUGE!

i think he's listed as a 4.65 - 40 time and plays ever bit of that if not faster. he takes pursuit angles most couldn't get away with taking.

he had offers from alabubba, arkansas, michigan, and oklahoma along with others.

MusicCityVol writes:

It's good to see that Dooley has a lot of these guys making sacrafices for the betterment of the team. We still won't be deep on defense but we have guys who are willing to what it takes to win. We'll see how that translates on the field.

While Dooley reels in a good catch, a big fish gets away...
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

gbeejr#1354500 writes:

I watched Walls in h.s. and he was the best athlete, the fastest player, and played all over the field (and playing against the toughest competition) and I thought he would make a great linebacker. I was amazed he ended up at DT. But I think DE is better suited for him and barring injury I think he will flourish and become a great player for the Orange. GO MARLON AND GO VOLS!

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to Papermate_Chinese_Bandit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You needed a penalty and one extra play to beat us by one point at your place last year. So shut up!

HtownVol writes:

I can understand a UF fan talking smack on here. UF has had the better of UT, maybe even a Bama fan but a LSU fan...
LSU has not had a dominant team in I dont know how long. They had the worst National Champion team EVER!
In CDD's first season at UT he beats Lucky Les if someone can count to 11.

Anyway, good to see UT cracked the top 25 in ESPN recruiting rankings.

I will gladly trade the number one ILB (who commited to UT yesterday) for he nations number one OT (a great OL is nice to have but UT needs LBs much more than OL).

GO VOLS!

dvols writes:

Marlon was a four star recruit and has done his time.....look out!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Bodeanvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

VoLs,

Take note. Just like the original Witch Doctor,
unfortunately there are copy cats who like to
use the same screen name.

In other words, not to be confused with the copy cat wannabes..........this is the original, the one and ONLY BodeanVol.

Look forward to your posts sir. The others...........just hit remove, Vol fans.

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

Shaun Ellis was a big DE at 270lbs and a darn good one. Good luck Mr. Walls.

The_Reverend writes:

It's great to be a Tennessee Vol!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features