Sal Sunseri doesn't beat you over the head with references to his last job. Quite the opposite, in fact.
He referred to the University of Alabama as "that other place" after Wednesday morning's practice.
UT's first-year defensive coordinator was an assistant head coach and linebackers coach at that other place for two national championships in the past three seasons. Although Tennessee fans probably would prefer he didn't flash his championship rings while on the UT payroll, they're not averse to all things Alabama.
It's all about the context.
He said after practice that UT's Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson "might be the finest young linebackers I've ever coached."
If he had spent the past three years at Ole Miss, I wouldn't have bothered transcribing the quote. But Alabama just sent linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower to the NFL; linebackers C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson are featured on the back of the 2012 Alabama media guide.
Asked to elaborate, Sunseri emphasized, "I wasn't around Courtney Upshaw when he was young." But he was around Mosley and Johnson. So the comparison still has impact, and it indicates how much of an impression Maggitt and Johnson have made in just the first week of camp.
"I didn't notice this till I got them both out here this summer," he said. "Their attitude, their work ethic, their toughness — I'm really, really pleased with those guys."
UT fans might be more excited if Derek Dooley had said one of his running backs reminded him of Herschel Walker. But in the realm of the possible, what could be more encouraging for the defense than Sunseri's assessment of his sophomore linebackers?
Dooley has been campaigning for playmakers on defense since the end of last season. Perhaps the new 3-4 defensive alignment will create more opportunities for them. But it can't actually make plays.
Sunseri believes Maggitt and Johnson can do just that and not only at this level.
"I think they have the potential to get drafted into the National Football League," he said. "Depending on their work ethic, that will determine what round. They have the talent to do it."
Just dropping "talent" in a conversation on UT football can create a fan frenzy. It hasn't come up that often the past two years. Now you have a quarterback and wide receivers being mentioned as future pros, and a defensive coordinator comparing his linebackers favorably to the ones coming off the Alabama-NFL assembly line.
There's more — if you can handle another Alabama reference.
When former Alabama defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore showed up for UT's spring practice, he hardly reminded Sunseri of the promising young pass rusher he remembered from Alabama.
"I was shocked," Sunseri said.
Sentimore had bulked up, supposedly to improve his status in UT's three-man front. What he gained in pounds, he lost in stamina. A starting position that seemingly was his for the taking suddenly was up for grabs.
He's starting now. He's also standing out.
When defensive line coach John Palermo was asked if anyone had separated himself from the competition, he singled out Sentimore and Maurice Couch.
"(Sentimore) thought he had to get over 300 pounds to play this technique," Sunseri said. "That's not the case. It's more about power and speed.
"He's moving quicker now. He's shocking people. He's tearing off and making plays."
If he's still making plays this fall, UT fans won't care if he started out at that other place.