John Propst likes challenges of becoming a leader on defense

John Propst

John Propst

John Propst isn't the biggest, fastest or strongest guy on the Tennessee roster.

But neither was the guy he's trying to replace at middle linebacker.

Propst doesn't necessarily draw the comparisons between himself and graduated senior Nick Reveiz on his own, but he also doesn't need to as the Vols move on without the heart and nerve-center of their defense this spring. Propst also shoots down suggestions that everything Reveiz provided can be replaced, but considering how much the two share in common, UT might have the perfect candidate to do exactly that.

"The main thing is just to come out here and be a leader," Propst said. "Nick's gone, some of the other seniors are gone, and we just need some people to step up really to lead the defense. Come out here and be vocal, get everybody lined up and do everything right and just come out here and compete every day.

"I'm kind of a quiet guy off the field, and when I get on it I kind of turn into a general out there, I guess. I try to lead everybody, and that comes with the position. At middle linebacker, you have to do that or you're not going to be able to get on the field."

Propst saw enough of the field a year ago to earn freshman All-SEC honors, though that award also opened him up to some jokes from coach Derek Dooley about how he was probably the only freshman middle linebacker in the league who played.

It is true that Propst isn't bringing that much experience with him into a spring practice that is featuring him prominently at the center of the defense, and it's also obvious that UT will be counting on him for much more than 14 tackles and one takedown for a loss this fall. But the Vols seem to have total confidence that he can deliver what they need, particularly since Propst is cut from the same cloth as a guy who spent last year tutoring him.

"He's one of the most instinctive players on defense," Dooley said. "You can't have a better quality as a defensive football player.

"Obviously what he lacks is, you know, he's not very experienced, he's not a burner, his size and speed aren't top-shelf, so he's got to make up for it with his instincts, his effort and his toughness."

Certainly that formula has been used successfully before by the Vols, who have enough faith in Propst right now to let Austin Johnson get in some work on the outside throughout camp.

Johnson's reps there are partly tied to the absence of Herman Lathers due to offseason shoulder surgery, which has left some chances for Greg King and Daryl Vereen to impress on the outside as well. And Johnson is also still getting some preparation in the middle as part of UT's effort to cross-train linebackers and build some depth across the board.

But while that shuffling continues on the outside, Propst doesn't look like an option to move around much. He may not be a physical prototype at middle linebacker, but he certainly would seem to fit right into the spot Reveiz left behind.

"Nick was an intense guy, everyone looked up to him," Propst said. "I mean, he did everything right, you can't replace Nick Reveiz. He's one of those great players that you have every so often. He didn't get enough credit for what he did, but he was a great player and everybody looked up to him. He was a leader and everybody followed him.

"I feel comfortable (leading), and it's something I look forward to. I want to step up and take that position. It's just a challenge coming out here every day and competing as hard as you can, I don't see it as intimidating, I just look forward to it as a challenge."

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 » 16

RoadTrip writes:

Propst is what you call a real football player. Measure him by what happens on the field. He will rock you and has a good nose for the ball.

scvols writes:

Just be yourself.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You pathatic, jealous loser.......and worst of all, troll. What a sick individual, and of course.....

Troll...............

Your jealousy is going to be your inevitable undoing.

harleyln1956#415938 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey...troll, get with us or get gone. You are a either a true Vol fan or another Weasel like our last F-ball coach. Say something worthwhile or keep your d*** mouth shut!

Dalton writes:

I know it's too fat a fastball over the plate to resist but trolls love the swings that we take fellow Vol faithful....canttstandja sits in his or it's basement giggling at the gold like some Gollumesque creature while his Mom yells at him to take out the trash...he doesn't have any insight on any situation we post on here.....he just jabs to get the violent response that getshim through his shift at Sonic...so order tater tots instead of fries and don't let him affect how you think our linebacking corp will step up this year....especially with Wilson clone AJ coming to an orange theater near you...GO VOLS

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Nick was a walkon and nobody thought he would become the LB and leader he worked hard to turn himself into.

I never count out any player from 1 season to the next because you never know when all the pieces of the puzzle will come together and suddenly that player becomes a beast.

You don't have to hit the hardest to hit, wrap up and bring the guy down.

VFL...GO BIG ORANGE!!!

iowavol writes:

Fire Mike Hamilton before he ruins football season.

mattlock writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Straw poll: which is more pathetic, that this guy takes the time to read and post his so many articles on another team's site and then post his nonsense or the fact that he actually gets some people worked up?

This was the kid in school who tried to get beat up at recess just so someone would notice him, because otherwise he'd be off playing tetherball by himself. I say we let him post whatever he wants and take it for what it's worth. . .which is absolutely nothing.

Vol4Him writes:

Hire Shaka Smart!!!!

allvol32 writes:

What a waste of bits on the internet that dillweed CSS is. Come on KNS ban the moron if for nothing else failure to come up with one original thought.

82cat writes:

CSS-- gets just what he wants he puts out non sense and folks on this site fall for it time after time-- heres a clue folks--- if you respond in any way to his post he got what he wanted and is lauging at your response no matter how well intended or factual it is.

He only comes on here to jerk your chain and I am constantly amazed by the morons that reply.

Thats right if you reply he's not the moron you are.

Dalton writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

cantstandja is the ultimate troll....a Vandy one who suspends reality on a regular basis...I follow and rarely post but don't be fooled by his earlier post where he talked about "our" Fulmer era linebackers...he only praises Fulmer to take a shot at Coach Dooley.

Dalton writes:

in response to Vol4Him:

Hire Shaka Smart!!!!

This is the candidate that I'm jazzed about...and if you read up on him he epitomizes his last name...hoping he's a candidate here...he could go anywhere or stay where he's at....if Hamilton gets an interview (depending on if VCU freaking loses) he better be ready to offer him on the spot with a five year guarantee. I know the hate towards MH on this site but the pretourney commenting flub aside he does a good job of leaving his coaches to do their job and build their program. We need a coach who has that persona and Shaka seems to be unique....back on topic...Propst is a coaches son that seems to have the "it" to contribute something to this mix and I love that type of player even if AJ ends up the starter

VolsDoc81TX writes:

Dear Mr. Jack Lail,
Time for KNS to clean house...let some of the older complacent reporters go!
Give Austin Ward a raise. Excellent hometown article!

windy writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I said it when he ( Propst ) signed with UT and I still say it now, He will be one great middle line backer that will always be remembered. He will be a horse before it over.

VOLS_and_REDSOX_4ever writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Here's how this whole business part of football comes into play.
- If a coach is losing, you move on and find someone who will win.
- Fulmer won 5 games his final year
- Dooley won 6 his first year (hell Lane won 7!)
- Fulmer was not a quality coach anymore, if you have an employee who has been with you for years and used to do good things for your company, but has lately been failing miserably, do you keep him based on how he USED to be good or fire him and bring in someone who can do the job well?

What Tennessee did was the right decision and this is no sinking ship, this is a rising contender.

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