Art Evans seeks leadership role

Greg King on returning from injury

At cornerback, there isn't a Tennessee player with more career starts, games played or years lived than Art Evans.

The fifth-year senior just isn't using any of those reasons as license to take on a leadership role with the Vols' young, but deep pool of defensive backs.

"I'm trying to start myself first before I try to take control and lead everybody else," Evans said. "Mainly I want to lead by example before I be more vocal."

With Prentiss Waggner locked in at one of the starting spots and an ongoing two-man battle between Marsalis Teague and freshman Justin Coleman for the other, starting might be a bit of a reach for Evans.

But he'll be needed, coach Derek Dooley said Monday.

"He's had a great attitude, and he's worked hard," Dooley said. "We put him on the shelf, and he jumped back off. That's a tribute to him."

Evans had his junior year come to an abrupt halt with four games remaining in the regular season. Evans had fallen behind in his car payments and he wasn't able to get back in Dooley's good graces until February.

It hasn't been easy getting back to where he was in 2009, when he started 12 of 13 games and was considered to be one of the team's more reliable defensive backs. Even before the suspension, Evans was struggling, as his disappointing 2010 campaign was exacerbated against Alabama when Julio Jones caught the bulk of his 12 receptions for 221 yards with Evans as his primary defender.

"Coach (Terry) Joseph was messing with me saying it's like riding a bicycle," Evans said. "I really think (that's true) to a certain extent, but at the same time you have to get the rust off and come out here and humble yourself and work hard."

Though the Vols should have plenty of experience among the starters in their secondary, there won't be much in the second and third groups. Because UT plans to use plenty of nickel and dime formations while also increasing the complexity of its defensive packages, players like Evans will have to contribute.

Maybe then, Evans will find his voice.

"I always like just having a senior-level of maturity more so than experience and what happened in the games," Dooley said. "When guys are struggling or they get a little ornery and that kind of thing, it's nice to have a little veteran leadership around. We don't have a lot of it."

Back in Action: Malik Jackson's steady recovery from a sprained MCL in his right knee just might be over, as the senior defensive tackle "was 100 percent and ripping and roaring" at Monday's practice, Dooley said.

"It was good to see him in the backfield," Dooley said.

Also back was oft-injured linebacker Greg King. The junior had been shelved with swelling in his right knee, the same one he had arthroscopic surgery for during the summer.

"It's frustrating, but you've got to deal with it," King said.

Freshman running back Tom Smith's workload increased in his recovery from a knee injury, but he still wore a red, non-contact jersey.

Wide receivers Zach Rogers (triceps) and Matt Milton (abdominal muscle) did not practice.

Little Too Late?: Former UT standout Leonard Little provided the Vols with some motivational words before practice.

The message focused on how to become a great player, but it didn't seem to sink in right away.

"It's a message we need because we're not there yet," Dooley said. "Little sluggish today."

Regardless of the effort in the first workout since Saturday's final scrimmage of camp, the messenger was a welcome guest for the Vols.

Little has been around the program at least twice since Dooley took over, and there will be a third since the former All-America pick has off-the-field stories that could also have a potentially positive impact despite some unsavory details.

Dooley provided some fodder for CBSsports.com for calling a player who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was twice arrested for driving while intoxicated as representing "everything Tennessee is all about."

That comment was meant as a reflection of what Little accomplished on the field, but Dooley later told the News Sentinel that his response to those incidents also makes him a valuable example for the Vol for Life program.

"I think he's a great representative, not because of what he did but because of how he handled it," Dooley said. "That's what life is all about to me.

"That's what matters most is how you come out of those things. To me, those guys are better examples for our kids than anybody else you could ever imagine."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327.

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Comments » 20

pupvol writes:

Huh?

abnermc writes:

He gets burned a LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tovolny writes:

First of all, I can't believe we played man against Julio. Second, Art does not know or demonstrate the "art" of making open field tackles. He stops when a runner turns toward him. Something the defender should never do. Instead of stopping he should be going to the runners' inside shoulder and forcing the ball carrier in the direction that he (the defender) dictates. Majors used to say: "use Sammy Sideline whenever you can...Sammy is your frend." Art seems to be an outstanding young man, though, and I hope and pray for his best to come out. He appears intelligent as well as tough. He is close, but probably needs that little bit of "coaching up." Overall, I believe the big orange snowball is gaining speed and getting larger and larger. Look out Crimsom Tide!

rtrchatt writes:

in response to tovolny:

First of all, I can't believe we played man against Julio. Second, Art does not know or demonstrate the "art" of making open field tackles. He stops when a runner turns toward him. Something the defender should never do. Instead of stopping he should be going to the runners' inside shoulder and forcing the ball carrier in the direction that he (the defender) dictates. Majors used to say: "use Sammy Sideline whenever you can...Sammy is your frend." Art seems to be an outstanding young man, though, and I hope and pray for his best to come out. He appears intelligent as well as tough. He is close, but probably needs that little bit of "coaching up." Overall, I believe the big orange snowball is gaining speed and getting larger and larger. Look out Crimsom Tide!

What exactly does the Crimson Tide need to be looking for from the creamsicle boys??? Julio may be gone but the result on the field does not change. 5 in a row, 47-38-7 alltime CT. Of course ALL SEC schools have a losing record against the UA.

LJS1984 writes:

We must be really getting close to kicking it off, you can read the above comments and tell that the trolls are out in force.

LJS1984 writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

What exactly does the Crimson Tide need to be looking for from the creamsicle boys??? Julio may be gone but the result on the field does not change. 5 in a row, 47-38-7 alltime CT. Of course ALL SEC schools have a losing record against the UA.

Thanks, keep it classy down there Harvey!

jack_2222#231746 writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

What exactly does the Crimson Tide need to be looking for from the creamsicle boys??? Julio may be gone but the result on the field does not change. 5 in a row, 47-38-7 alltime CT. Of course ALL SEC schools have a losing record against the UA.

Phat Phil owned the tide. End of story. Good luck with your new store bought teeth.

Couchdummy writes:

Wishing AE the best of luck, but I too remember some poor coverage as well as missed tackles being a problem. Perhaps a better supporting cast will help keep the plays ahead of him.

DannyVol writes:

Best of luck to Evans and I hope he can provide needed leadership. However, I hope we are at the point where he doesn't have to play very much. I've never seen a UT corner get burned so badly so many times, especially in big games.

On another note, I've noticed Dooley mentioning Tom Smith's name more and more often and not just because of his minor knee injury. I think this kid is going to be phenominal right out of the gate.

MidTennVol writes:

"I think he's a great representative, not because of what he did but because of how he handled it," Dooley said. "That's what life is all about to me.

"That's what matters most is how you come out of those things. To me, those guys are better examples for our kids than anybody else you could ever imagine."

I would love to have a man like that coach my boys.

seaplane#216536 writes:

Hopefully, they have worked on the basics of tackling. The defensive backs were our weakest link last year with too many broken tackles and not being physical enough to stay up with the big receivers. Hard hitting freshmen might be better then sticking with some of our "seasoned veterans".

MusicCityVol writes:

I have a ton of faith in our coaches on the defensive side of the ball. Wilcox, Sirmon, Thompson, and company are high character guys and will make sure that unit has strong leadership whether it's Evans or someone else.

A Close Look At The Vols' Peter Sirmon
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

bfowler1161#262198 writes:

I am glad to see AE has his act together and wants to be a leader. We need seniors to lead. I do hope not to see him chasing a WR as consistently as we did last year. A better pass rush would also help the secondary look much better!

KevDVol writes:

If Art Evans proves that he can cover and tackle better than all other options, then he deserves to be out there playing.

If he ends up out there playing, then...

lyafarre writes:

in response to tovolny:

First of all, I can't believe we played man against Julio. Second, Art does not know or demonstrate the "art" of making open field tackles. He stops when a runner turns toward him. Something the defender should never do. Instead of stopping he should be going to the runners' inside shoulder and forcing the ball carrier in the direction that he (the defender) dictates. Majors used to say: "use Sammy Sideline whenever you can...Sammy is your frend." Art seems to be an outstanding young man, though, and I hope and pray for his best to come out. He appears intelligent as well as tough. He is close, but probably needs that little bit of "coaching up." Overall, I believe the big orange snowball is gaining speed and getting larger and larger. Look out Crimsom Tide!

Shouldn't the corner be turning the runner TO the inside, where the pursuit/LB's can catch him? A runner gets outside the corner, and you're praying your safety is there or that you have an unusually fast LB. Turn him inside, and you've got backup.

lyafarre writes:

in response to workinlikehek:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I've never understood the guys who post on other teams fan sites just to rile them up. Seem to be a lot of UF and Bama fans that do it here. They must live a sad life if ticking ppl off is what it takes to make them happy.

murrayvol writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

What exactly does the Crimson Tide need to be looking for from the creamsicle boys??? Julio may be gone but the result on the field does not change. 5 in a row, 47-38-7 alltime CT. Of course ALL SEC schools have a losing record against the UA.

How's Joe Pannunzio doing?

Glad to see him in a place where he can do great things with his skill set. Just don't give him too much rope.

VolGrad writes:

Dooley will find a way to slyly turn that CBS rhetoric inside out on them at some point this season.

Meanwhile, I wish Art the best wherever and whenever he plays. We need all hands on deck, alert and ready. Go Vols!

tovolny writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

What exactly does the Crimson Tide need to be looking for from the creamsicle boys??? Julio may be gone but the result on the field does not change. 5 in a row, 47-38-7 alltime CT. Of course ALL SEC schools have a losing record against the UA.

You should have addded that Alabama never beat the Vols in Knoxville until 1958, and that Neyland beat your Bear more than your Bear beat him. What is the CRIMSOM TIDE anyway? Does it have anything to do with the Red Tide disease that makes the Alabama coast line smell like shrimp poop smothered in onions.

tovolny writes:

in response to lyafarre:

Shouldn't the corner be turning the runner TO the inside, where the pursuit/LB's can catch him? A runner gets outside the corner, and you're praying your safety is there or that you have an unusually fast LB. Turn him inside, and you've got backup.

I am talking about near the sideline...where he normally is. If one stops, the runner will smoke thee and the linebacker. You must have played for Vandy. If you don't believe me, ask Tim Preast, Conrad Graham, or the best open field tackler of all time, Roland James. I hope you remember Roland James. He was very hansome, too.

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