Brent Brewer developing into a home-run hitter for Vols

Safety likes 'to put the pain on people'

Tennessee defensive back Brent Brewer warms up prior to a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee defensive back Brent Brewer warms up prior to a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Diamond or gridiron, bat or pads, the objective hasn't changed for the Tennessee sophomore.

And while Brewer had a little pop in his previous sporting life also, it's perhaps only as a Vols safety that he's really discovered the ability to become a regular home-run threat.

"I had 11 one year in the minors," Brewer said after UT's final scrimmage of camp on Saturday. "But I was kind of a keep-it-on-the-ground guy. I had a lot of power, but I really didn't hit a lot of home runs. Here, I like to put the pain on people.

"I guess I'm more of a power hitter now. I like to hurt people."

That approach works just fine during the season for a team trying to establish itself as faster, stronger and more physical heading into the second campaign under Derek Dooley.

Just about the only time that brand of football can be a concern for the Vols' coach is during the weeks of practices when the targets are all teammates, as fellow sophomore Matt Milton can attest.

The UT wide receiver has been on the shelf for a few days since he found Brewer waiting for him after making a cut inside on a route to the middle of the field. And while there's a clear consensus from people who witnessed the shot that Brewer wasn't trying to knock Milton out of the park, that kind of aggressive play can occasionally lead to injuries.

The trick is balancing the need to get ready for games with maintaining a healthy roster.

"He stroked him pretty good," Dooley said. "Our big thing in practice is you never hit a defenseless receiver or player. They can be in a lot of shapes and sizes, and Brent, he even kind of pulled up a little bit. It was just one of those things. He didn't

really go with a malicious intent. He felt bad about it, and it could have been a lot worse probably.

"There are a couple things we do (to avoid injuries). But if he's not in a defenseless position and he's coming at you, you go stroke him."

That's the kind of natural reaction the Vols need from Brewer, who has emerged from a crowded pool of defensive backs to become the one most likely to come down near the line of scrimmage to assist the linebackers and help against the run.

Brewer has speed as well, though he admits the 15 pounds of muscle he's put on since trading shortstop for safety has cut down on some of the mobility he used to have. But that's not really a problem for the Vols, who seemingly have enough versatile options to fill out the secondary and defend against the pass while Brewer looks for a pitch he can groove.

"Now over the last couple years, I've obviously gotten a lot bigger," Brewer said. "I'm not as loose, a little tighter, so it's hard to move side-to-side a little more because that was what I needed when I was playing shortstop. Now it's not as needed, I'm a lot more physical.

"I'm not as good of a cover corner as (Prentiss Waggner) or Janzen (Jackson), quick guys like that. But I pride myself on coming down to help the linebackers, coming down to help against the run, stopping the big plays in the box."

Brewer certainly also can break them up in the passing game, or he wouldn't be in the lineup.

And in case there were any lingering doubts after he wrapped up his first season at UT with 30 tackles after starting the last six games, Brewer already has been delivering some emphatic statements about what he's capable of to his teammates.

"You know, the coaches talk to me about not hitting the guy when he's really not expecting it," Brewer said. "I mean, I'm just trying to get used to the game again, game-time is coming up, and that's what I'm going to be doing in a game.

"It wasn't intentional. I didn't want to hurt him. But that's the game —come out here, play hard."

And, like that other game, try to string together a couple hits in the process.

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.

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Comments » 33

CroKev writes:

I thought JJ would be the nickel guy coming in to aid the LB's in stopping the run but it looks like BB is going to be the 5-center. He sure looks a lot stronger this year than last and I guess those on offense can attest to that.

BAFLETCHER writes:

Brent, you might just make it to the big leagues after all, albeit the NFL and not MLB. BOC is pulling for you.

Fletch

ThaiVolFan writes:

good piece. I for one am excited about this years squad on both sides of the ball but specifically I am ready to see our safeties laying the law down on everyone who comes their way. Our defensive ends will be applying pressure on the qb's this year which should translate into more turnovers for the secondary. Looking forward to seeing a strong Tennessee DEFENSE once again up on the Hill. This alone will keep us in every game because Defense is what wins Championships. I'll hang up and listen. Go Vols!

hueypilot writes:

After Brent's adventure off the field in the spring I think I'd lose the "I just like to hurt people" quip.

LiveFaith writes:

Fred White

RockyTopinAlabubba writes:

I can't wait to see him hurt some people! Fire'em up Brent! GO VOLS

Orangeblood13 writes:

Hey Huey put it to rest, everyone else has

UTbassdrummer writes:

"I like to hurt people"

I. AM. READY. TO. SEE. THIS.

MidTennVol writes:

Exactly what Matt Milton needed.

RockyTopinAlabubba writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

Exactly what Matt Milton needed.

Thank you,come again

wjackson#226202 writes:

I love his mentality. "It wasn't intentional. I didn't want to hurt him. But that's the game —come out here, play hard." Play hard Brent! I think that's why Matt Milton hasn't cracked the the starting lineup. He doesn't have a "football" mentality. I want to hear. "Alshon Jefferey. Meet Brent Brewer." "Yeah Johnny, You could hear that shot all over the stadium!"

BruisedOrange writes:

I know it's easy to take two quotes from two different stories and make it into a big deal... but are we on a path that sacrifices speed for size? If so, is it just a temporary fix for a size-challenged program in rebuild, or a permanent strategy?

From above: "Brewer has speed as well, though he admits the 15 pounds of muscle he's put on since trading shortstop for safety has cut down on some of the mobility he used to have."

From a recent story* on new strength coach, Ron McKeefery: "With Wylie gone in an abrupt move to the University of Texas, Dooley had the opportunity to instill his philosophy with his third strength coach in as many years. The focus shifted from less aerobic exercises to a more old-school approach of 'pushing heavy weight'."

Obviously Brewer didn't gain all 15 lbs. under McKeefery's tutelage, but is he slower/less flexible than he could have been at his current weight?

I don't know enough about it to criticize--I'm just curious. A story on what has shaped Dooley's weight training philosophy (and how it effects our recruiting) would be appreciated.

* http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2011/a...

IndyVolFan writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

I know it's easy to take two quotes from two different stories and make it into a big deal... but are we on a path that sacrifices speed for size? If so, is it just a temporary fix for a size-challenged program in rebuild, or a permanent strategy?

From above: "Brewer has speed as well, though he admits the 15 pounds of muscle he's put on since trading shortstop for safety has cut down on some of the mobility he used to have."

From a recent story* on new strength coach, Ron McKeefery: "With Wylie gone in an abrupt move to the University of Texas, Dooley had the opportunity to instill his philosophy with his third strength coach in as many years. The focus shifted from less aerobic exercises to a more old-school approach of 'pushing heavy weight'."

Obviously Brewer didn't gain all 15 lbs. under McKeefery's tutelage, but is he slower/less flexible than he could have been at his current weight?

I don't know enough about it to criticize--I'm just curious. A story on what has shaped Dooley's weight training philosophy (and how it effects our recruiting) would be appreciated.

* http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2011/a...

We were a VERY small team the last few years and Dooley's trying to correct that. We need bulked up players on all 22 positions on the field. As Naval posted, we may lose a half step but it will be worth it in what we gain by being able to get a guy down or push linemen off the ball vs. dragged down the field on D or O-line pushed into the QB's lap.

It was a good line of questioning though. Here in Indy, our Colts are going thru the same transformation. For years Bill Polian has had a small, fast team which worked during the season, but when we played power running teams in the playoffs, we got beat. His son Chris is the new sheriff in town and he's getting a little more size to go with our speed. Perfect combination. Now if 18 would just get healed.

Ayres_Hall writes:

I'm not sure why criticizing is a necessity for some of you. It's not like you have John Adams' insight or superior knowledge

NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop writes:

OMG...ready to run through a brick wall myself. BB gonna deliver the pain this fall.

UTVOL2001 writes:

We have plenty of speed! Keep packing on the beef and bring the Thunder! Adding 15 lbs can take you from a good collision to lights out, even if you lose a step. My guess is that even if he lost a step in straight speed, he will get it back with the fact he has a better initial step, huh? So the way I figure, his "0 to the ball" will be about the same, but now he has brought more beef to the ball! Clear as mud?

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

All of this is just pre-season puffery to get everyone excited about our team. I'm not buying any of it. Our defense played like cream-puffs last year and I don't see there being much of a difference this year. We are going to have to rely on our offense to stay in games this year. Trying to be as objective as I can here.

CroKev writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

For someone who "hates" Saban you sure seem to "love" his players...

johnlg00 writes:

Very encouraging news, since the secondary is going to have to try to make up for deficiencies in other areas of the defense, at least in the early going. It seems that the Vols have the numbers and diversity of skills in the defensive backfield to use them in a number of different ways and keep everybody fresh late in games. Generally speaking, I'm an old-school type who prefers a defense to be built from the D-line back through the LB's to the secondary. By necessity, the Vols will have to build the defense in reverse, as it were. It may well be that the top two tacklers on this year's team are safeties rather than LB's as the conventional wisdom holds, but that may not be a bad thing if a decent percentage of them are at or behind the line of scrimmage.

givehim6 writes:

UT had a reputation as WR U, then we were know for our RB's, then our QB's or our linebackers. Know I think Saftys have joined the elite ranks, and EB started it all.

clcvol writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In 2009 pre-season, Mark Ingram wasn't on the radar to win the Heisman. Pre-season rankings don't mean a whole lot.

RUstilltalking writes:

in response to givehim6:

UT had a reputation as WR U, then we were know for our RB's, then our QB's or our linebackers. Know I think Saftys have joined the elite ranks, and EB started it all.

The only people who know us as WR-U, RB-U, QB-U, and Linebacker-U are TN fans. Anyone outside of TN would laugh at this statement. I laugh at this statement and I am a Vol fan. Stop being a moron. Other then Peyton Manning we have had decent players at these positions nothing more. TN is on the right track by having their best athletes in the secondary. This season could be a surprise and I hope it is.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All of those guys listed on the PRE-SEASON All-SEC teams are returning veterans from highly-ranked teams. Those are typically the ONLY kinds of players recognized by outside pundits. It is really hard for even the most-talented and most-productive players to get recognition by outside "experts" if they don't play on ranked teams.

Sure, there are exceptions--Steve DeLong winning the Outland Trophy on a 4-6 UT team, Jamie Winbourne (I think that was his name) making All-America as a linebacker on a series of 0-for-the-season Vandy teams, and I guess the guy from UK would be another this year--but in a league as deep as the SEC, the rule generally holds.

However, my advice on this, as on other purely speculative aspects of prognostication, is to wait until the POST-season to see how the rankings hold up. Even then, many pundits with would-be national reputations hate to admit that they may have overrated some guys and underrated others back when they were mostly just guessing. None of that will prevent UT's secondary from being the very productive heart of a much-improved defense which will have many professional guessers examining their crystal balls for hitherto-unsuspected flaws. Being overlooked by such is one spark to the fire-in-the-belly that good but under-recognized players have to prove the naysayers wrong.

hueypilot writes:

in response to Orangeblood13:

Hey Huey put it to rest, everyone else has

It's resting Orange, but it's still in the memory. Hope it was just an unfortunate situation that boiled over and never happens again. I am encouraged over the lack of off the field troubles during the summer. I think Dooley's choice of players to award scholarships is having an effect. As long as B Brewer has no further issues, it's a closed case in my book. But it does hang there in the event something else happens.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to johnlg00:

All of those guys listed on the PRE-SEASON All-SEC teams are returning veterans from highly-ranked teams. Those are typically the ONLY kinds of players recognized by outside pundits. It is really hard for even the most-talented and most-productive players to get recognition by outside "experts" if they don't play on ranked teams.

Sure, there are exceptions--Steve DeLong winning the Outland Trophy on a 4-6 UT team, Jamie Winbourne (I think that was his name) making All-America as a linebacker on a series of 0-for-the-season Vandy teams, and I guess the guy from UK would be another this year--but in a league as deep as the SEC, the rule generally holds.

However, my advice on this, as on other purely speculative aspects of prognostication, is to wait until the POST-season to see how the rankings hold up. Even then, many pundits with would-be national reputations hate to admit that they may have overrated some guys and underrated others back when they were mostly just guessing. None of that will prevent UT's secondary from being the very productive heart of a much-improved defense which will have many professional guessers examining their crystal balls for hitherto-unsuspected flaws. Being overlooked by such is one spark to the fire-in-the-belly that good but under-recognized players have to prove the naysayers wrong.

Excellent response,John..It is hard to reason with CSS because he never thinks he is wrong, but yet he has been proven wrong time and time again.

Smokey say he loves the fact his team is under the radar..

murrayvol writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

I'm not sure why criticizing is a necessity for some of you. It's not like you have John Adams' insight or superior knowledge

It's a virtual requirement to be on a sports board AH.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Excellent response,John..It is hard to reason with CSS because he never thinks he is wrong, but yet he has been proven wrong time and time again.

Smokey say he loves the fact his team is under the radar..

You're right, Smoke. He is has shown over and over again that he is impervious to any opinion besides his own, unless he can find someone else to agree with him. No matter how many times he is corrected, he goes back to what he thinks he knows without even acknowledging any contrary facts or arguments. He is a propagandist, pure and simple. He learns nothing and forgets nothing.

givehim6 writes:

in response to RUstilltalking:

The only people who know us as WR-U, RB-U, QB-U, and Linebacker-U are TN fans. Anyone outside of TN would laugh at this statement. I laugh at this statement and I am a Vol fan. Stop being a moron. Other then Peyton Manning we have had decent players at these positions nothing more. TN is on the right track by having their best athletes in the secondary. This season could be a surprise and I hope it is.

Moron? Did you really read my post? Or did you read enough to make you think I said something eles? For one thing over the yaers I have read enough sports magazines to know UT fans are not the only ones to use the phrase WIDE RECEIVER U, this was in the 90's. If you knew your Vol history you wou would know this. Secondly I did not call UT RB U, QB U, or linebacker U,I said we are known for our QB,s RB's and linebackers. Yes I know right now our players are not playing at the talent leval of days past but that is why I started my statement with the word "had", so go back an retake english, MORON!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Phil Steele...The one who picked UGA to compete for a national title last yr. He said UGA would have the best O-line in the SEC last yr pre-season. Then we had to listen to CCLC all pre-season about what Phil Steele said about his beloved dawgs. Then neither he or Phil Steele had much to say when UGA did a massive nose dive. I'm guessing when Phil Steele makes you look like a bigger idiot than you make yourself look, you too will vanish until you think we have forgotten...NAH, we couldn't get that lucky.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your golden boy Tim Tearbow just got demoted to 3rd string. Rumors of him possibly being cut. Nuff said.

roobomb writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know, right?! There isn't even a comparison. I mean, look at how high Weurfell was drafted, and then the illustrious NFL carreer he had... Oh, wait, Rich was right. Manning was way better than Weurffell.

givehim6 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes Manning has beenthe best QB to pass throw the "T", and yes he was beat out of the Heisman. But you will have to admit he is one of the best pro QB's to come out of the SEC. And no he did not beat the Gaters but Shuler did and probaly others I can not remember right now, it doesn't work like it did years ago. The Clausen brothers were good QB's especialy Casey, sorry about the spelling spell cherker does't do names. Andy Kelly was one of the best QB's in areana football,he was the Vol QB of the 85' Vols. Look I am not saying UT has had the best QB's in the SEC, the other guy thought I said UT was known as QB U and PM was the only good QB we ever had. It's sad because you trolls come here to our home and twist thing we say around. I can remember in school there being this guy that wanted to be noticed would try to butt in on peoples conversations usually ended up ti a locker.

IndyVolFan writes:

Manning: 11-time Pro Bowler & 5-time First-Team All-Pro, 4-time MVP

Wuerffel:
Started 10 games in pro career and was 4-6 W/L.

I don't think anyone denies Danny was a stud at UF, but as is apparent from his success on the pro level, he also benefited from the system, coach, and the talent around him. How good would UT be if we had the recruiting base of UF?

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