John Propst loud, clear

Linebacker finding his voice on the field

Tennessee's Eric Gordon, from left, Prentiss Waggner, Anthony Anderson and Art Evans warm up during practice Saturday at Haslam Field.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee's Eric Gordon, from left, Prentiss Waggner, Anthony Anderson and Art Evans warm up during practice Saturday at Haslam Field.

Photos by Adam Brimer/News Sentinel
Tennessee defensive back Zach Allen, left, is wrapped up by defensive back Janzen Jackson during the team's first practice in pads of fall camp Saturday at Haslam Field.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Photos by Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Tennessee defensive back Zach Allen, left, is wrapped up by defensive back Janzen Jackson during the team's first practice in pads of fall camp Saturday at Haslam Field.

A quiet approach to leadership comes more naturally to John Propst.

That style doesn't generally work that well in packed stadiums in loud, pressurized situations when a middle linebacker needs to bark out signals, though, so the sophomore is trying to find his voice.

And while the Vols only just finished their first week of fall camp on Saturday, Propst doesn't appear to be having any issues being heard as he tries to lock down a starting job at a critical defensive position.

"I mean, the (middle) linebacker has got to be able to talk out there, and I feel like I do a pretty good job of that, communicating with everybody," Propst said. "I just have to continue to get better at that.

"I'm more of a guy that leads by example. I'm not a huge talker off the field or in the locker room, but I'll get out here and say what I need to say. If I need to stand up and say something, that's a little bit out of my comfort zone, but if it's best for the team I'll do it."

Regardless of how comfortable or ready Propst is for an expanded role with the Vols this fall, it appears to be coming as the team tries to fill the void left by the graduation of Nick Reveiz — a vocal, emotional leader who made his share of plays on the field.

Propst might not have the benefit of experience or age that Reveiz had in helping run the show a year ago, and he has stressed repeatedly that filling such big shoes won't be easy. But Propst tried to absorb every bit of knowledge he could during their one season together, and whether he knows it or not, he could be well on his way to matching the volume the Vols were accustomed to from Reveiz.

"John, he gets it," junior Greg King said. "It's there. Nick took him up under his wings and tried to teach him everything he was able to, and John is a pretty quick learner. He caught on pretty well.

"I look at it like, 'Hey, that's another Nick — if not better.' So, yeah, we're comfortable with him right there in the middle."

The faces around Propst may continue to be subject to change, but while the Vols are toying with different faces in different places on the outside, he continues to focus on manning the middle.

The offseason injury to Herman Lathers forced UT to shuffle guys around at linebacker, with the first move being to slide Austin Johnson out of an expected starting spot in the middle to the outside. In the process, that elevated Propst into a more prominent slot, one that is banking on his intelligence and instincts — and perhaps his voice.

Absent from those oft-cited strengths for Propst are his physical skills, but the guy he is trying to replace wasn't always lauded for athleticism, either.

"He's a (middle linebacker), that's what his physical makeup keeps him at," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "He's a smart guy, he's instinctive, but he doesn't have the range as some of the other guys. That's kind of his role, and we need him to stay (there) and give us a little stability. It's two things going at once, and (Propst) fits both of those.

"You need to have somebody with a lot of command who's good a real good understanding of the defense."

The next step is passing along some information about it to his teammates, and Propst is making sure they can hear him.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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 » 15

Vol4EVA writes:

Play hard John!...I am soooo ready for some Tennessee football....Go Big Orange! I'll hang up and listen to your comments..

givehim6 writes:

If you play with the heart of a lion like Nick did the spot can be yours.

windy writes:

I have said it for two years now. John Propst will be a force to deal with, before he leaves UT. He just may be another Leanord Little. I have great expectations for him to be great.

OrangePsyched writes:

He won't be the most athletic guy on the field, but he is very intelligent and has a nose for the football. With Wilcox's various packages he will be a coach on the field for us.

PHAT_VOL writes:

I remember when we signed him. He's from Alabama and I thought just a signee to fill up the roster. One that Auburn and ALabama didn't want. I hope I'm wrong.
GO VOLS !!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Kid is from a legendary program in Alabama. Well coached with the heart of a lion. Yeah, maybe Bama and Auburn didn't want him, but he de-committed from West Virginia to come to UT. WVU isn't some slouch of a program, and they had the #6 ranked D in the nation last year. Greg Castille at WVU runs a 3-3-5 with MULTIPLE looks kinda like Wilcox runs. I'm thinking Probst will be a GREAT fit for what CJW is trying to do on the defensive side of the ball. On the other hand, if Greg King can stay healthy, he can be ALL-SEC.

UTByrd writes:

Let's not forget that he is a bonafide Eagle Scout. That acheivement comes from being a well rounded indvidual with tons of dedication. Those traits will transfer to the football field rather nicely.
Go VOLS!!!!!

Pompey writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

voloffaith writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ill placed comment! Unnecessary as the comparison was on football skills sir/maam.

RoadTrip writes:

Just another CDD/staff recruited football player with good character, intelligence, focus and desire to succeed. Hmmm - is there a common thread here?

JP will be a strong contributor to the program's success for 3 more seasons. He is a VFL. Go gettum JP!

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

in response to windy:

I have said it for two years now. John Propst will be a force to deal with, before he leaves UT. He just may be another Leanord Little. I have great expectations for him to be great.

Saw him play in high school and he is no Leonard Little in that he doesn't have that kind of speed but he will remind you of Dale Jones because he will knock your head off.

sameolvolalum writes:

Health is the fundamental issue for this thin LB crew. Lather's return-----probably for the Gators-----plus King staying healthy and the youngsters catching on, then we'll be OK. Dalton Santos' being added to the mix next season and tutored by Probst et al, could make our 2012 LB group exciting. Let's hope Santos keeps his commitment. A disruptive NB (JJ) can allow the MLB to stay at home, which is perfect for a big fella' such as Probst. A lot of unknowns coming into this year. Let's make it noisy.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to sameolvolalum:

Health is the fundamental issue for this thin LB crew. Lather's return-----probably for the Gators-----plus King staying healthy and the youngsters catching on, then we'll be OK. Dalton Santos' being added to the mix next season and tutored by Probst et al, could make our 2012 LB group exciting. Let's hope Santos keeps his commitment. A disruptive NB (JJ) can allow the MLB to stay at home, which is perfect for a big fella' such as Probst. A lot of unknowns coming into this year. Let's make it noisy.

sameol...like you, I'll believe his commitment when he shows up on campus. Texas football is far more brutal on families and friends that we can imagine. On one hand he saves face by not commiting to Texas or A&M, but his family will take a lot of heat for him picking an out of state school.

RoadTrip writes:

Don't discount that Texas A&M is not (yet) in the SEC. Top recruits know the SEC is the top conference and they also know the Big 12/10/whatever is a dead duck. He has a tight relationship with Sirmon and with all of the NFL experience on this staff he knows that if he gets it done he goes high in the draft.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

To be mentioned in the same sentence with the likes of Nick should be an honor. Good job John. I look forward to seeing some of the younger talent show their stuff this year. Including Maggit. That is who I think looks like Leonard Little.

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.

Features