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.