John Adams: Darrington Sentimore knows 3-4 and SEC

John Adams

Darrington Sentimore after practice

Darrington Sentimore has played just enough SEC football to know he wants to play some more. So, as soon as he left the conference, he began working on his return.

"I had to get back into the SEC," Tennessee's defensive end said after Tuesday's practice.

He came to the right place. Not only do the Vols need help on the defensive front, they can offer as much familiarity as anybody else for the former Alabama defensive end.

Sal Sunseri, UT's new defensive coordinator, was the associate head coach and linebackers coach at Alabama when Sentimore was there. Moreover, he brings the same 3-4 defensive alignment that Sentimore learned with the Tide.

"It's very much the same stuff," Sentimore said. "Coach Sal is a lot harder than he was at Alabama, though."

That's no surprise. Alabama has won two national championships in the last three seasons. UT just went 1-7 in the SEC.

Much of Alabama's success was founded in a deep, talented defense on which Sentimore played as a backup in 2010. He left the program after he was indefinitely suspended following the spring of 2011. Then, at the recommendation of Alabama coach Nick Saban, he continued his football career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

While Sentimore appreciates the transition provided by junior college

football, he wasn't enamored with it.

"In juco, we didn't really run a lot," he said. "In the SEC, they run you all day.

"I wasn't eating right. I wasn't lifting right. I wasn't disciplined over there."

Based on his weight gain, Sentimore is apparently eating better. He said he's up to 300 pounds, which is a lot of meals from his listed weight of 273 at Alabama and the 265 pounds he carried in junior college.

Stamina is more of a factor than speed, according to Sentimore.

"I was far away (from being in shape) when I came here," he said. "I had to work hard. I still hadn't reached that level, but I'm getting there.

"I'm at the weight I want to be. I'm still fast, though. I run like a 4.8 (in the 40)."

At that size, he blends in well with UT's front three of Marlon Walls, who has added more weight from the 281 pounds at which he played last season, and nose tackle Maurice Couch. Sentimore has something else in common with those guys. All of them have moved around.

Walls originally signed with the Vols out of high school in 2008 but played the following season at Hargrave Military Academy before enrolling at UT a year later. Couch arrived at UT via Garden City Community College after playing high school football in Orlando, Fla.

Although Walls and Couch know more about UT football, Sentimore has the advantage of learning the 3-4 at Alabama.

"It helps me a lot knowing what to do out there," he said. "I can help (his teammates) help themselves.

"I just want to win and compete. I competed when I was over there (at Alabama). I will compete over here."

And he's already thought about when he lines up against his former team.

"I'm gonna compete even harder when we play Alabama," he said with a smile.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 15

Dalton writes:

Love the mindset...not to start worrying before success but if our D brings it this year is Coach Sal a candidate at Arkansas?

underthehill writes:

in response to Dalton:

Love the mindset...not to start worrying before success but if our D brings it this year is Coach Sal a candidate at Arkansas?

I think Petrino's brother is the offense coordinator and will likely step up...

txvolsfan writes:

in response to Dalton:

Love the mindset...not to start worrying before success but if our D brings it this year is Coach Sal a candidate at Arkansas?

Would be a good problem to have!!!
think Kirby Smart would have a little advantage over him in getting a head job
also think Malzahn will be who they go after, he is all Hawg and that is his dream job.

CoverOrange writes:

Why was DS indefinitely suspended by Saban?

Dalton writes:

What about the interim guy?...and when they hire a permanent replacement any candidate that rhymes with Petrino gets his hand shaken and thankfully dismissed...I always hate when posters jump the gun so what do I do...get it started...back on topic I hope Sentimore brings the pain this season!

Dalton writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

Would be a good problem to have!!!
think Kirby Smart would have a little advantage over him in getting a head job
also think Malzahn will be who they go after, he is all Hawg and that is his dream job.

You're probably right on...Smart would be a bigger splash than a first year D-Coordinator which would probably lead to Sal replacing him at Bama or agreeing to head the Hogs D...unless he fall in love with Tennessee...Knoxville be nice to this man...I'll stop now...I promise!

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to Dalton:

Love the mindset...not to start worrying before success but if our D brings it this year is Coach Sal a candidate at Arkansas?

Awfully late to look outside. I'm betting on Taver Johnson getting the Hog job.

GlassHalfFull writes:

Didn't see much bias in this article. That's pleasantly unexpected and a breath of fresh air coming from Mr. Adams.

jack4444 writes:

It's possible they could start 360, 305 and 300 in a 3-4 with a 250 LB. Far cry from the old days but whatever it takes.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

This kid can play. The Dline should be stout and should be deep as all get out.

born2ride writes:

The Vols need help on defense. We could not stop anybody last year.

MDiv writes:

in response to born2ride:

The Vols need help on defense. We could not stop anybody last year.

I realize we got blown out by the No.1, No.2, and No.5 teams in the country, but most of that damage occurred after the defense had been on the field for too long due to our ineffective offense. I look for better days on both sides of the ball, but last year's defense was not our biggest problem.

AllVol1 writes:

in response to MDiv:

I realize we got blown out by the No.1, No.2, and No.5 teams in the country, but most of that damage occurred after the defense had been on the field for too long due to our ineffective offense. I look for better days on both sides of the ball, but last year's defense was not our biggest problem.

Stamina and depth were definitely big issues and that is on the defense. Equal share of the problem goes to the offense for not being able to sustain drives with effective run game. Hopefully, as both hurt each other last year, both can mutually benefit from each other this year.

Go Vols.

rtrchatt writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Why was DS indefinitely suspended by Saban?

Never disclosed, but at UA you are not given multiple "2nd chances." CNS has said repeatedly any kid leaving for discipline reasons creates their own way out the door.

DS is a talent and will help if this weight issue does not get out of hand. RT and A Day game is Sat on CSS Live 3pm.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Never disclosed, but at UA you are not given multiple "2nd chances." CNS has said repeatedly any kid leaving for discipline reasons creates their own way out the door.

DS is a talent and will help if this weight issue does not get out of hand. RT and A Day game is Sat on CSS Live 3pm.

I believe and admire that about Saban. Preferential treatment was Meyer's, Fulmer's and eventually would have been Kiffin's undoing. But it begs the question whether DS was shown to the door or found the door himself. We don't need anymore character issues.

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