A slimmed-down Darrington Sentimore is no longer huffing and puffing through practice, and his perseverance has propelled him to Tennessee’s first-team defense.
Sentimore said Tuesday he pushed past Steven Fowlkes at defensive end a couple of days ago because he showed coaches that he could play the rush as well as the pass.
Sentimore, a former Alabama player who came to Tennessee after a junior college detour, said he only lost six pounds from spring, but he’s firmer and better conditioned.
“Coach Mac (strength coach Ron McKeefery) put us through a hard summer session,” he said. “Right now I’m with the first-team defense and I’m trying to stay with them.”
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley praised both Sentimore and Fowlkes, who he said displayed an outstanding attitude even as he was sidelined because of academics last year.
“(Fowlkes) was the best scout-team guy we had,” Dooley said.
* Receiver Da’Rick Rogers and defensive back Eric Gordon missed practice to attend the final day of classes for the summer academic session, Dooley said.
Freshman tailback Davante Bourque missed practice with a neck injury that Dooley compared to “whiplash.”
* Tight end Mychal Rivera could be out a few days with an injured knee, but Dooley said it was “nothing serious.”
Junior defensive lineman Joseph Ayres is getting some work at tight end to help shore up depth at the position. Freshman linebacker Justin King moved to tight end over the weekend.
“With Rivera out, we’re thin at that position,” Dooley said. “We have a lot of defensive lineman. Just like Justin King, I think Joe Ayers can give us a little value, especially as a bigger, physical guy to help us block.”
* Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a junior college transfer, continues to draw rave reviews from teammates in his first camp.
“CP is everything that everyone has hyped him up to be,” said quarterback Tyler Bray. “He can go up and get the ball, and he’s a big, strong receiver. He’s going to do very well in the SEC. His role will be very big this year. He’s pretty much a starter already, so he is going to play a big role.”