Tennessee's A.J. Johnson wants to build on big freshman season in 2012

A.J. Johnson

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS

A.J. Johnson

When Herman Lathers went down with a broken ankle last summer, Tennessee urgently needed linebackers.

Young, old, big, small — the Vols were in no position to be picky. Coach Derek Dooley wanted playmakers, and a true freshman from Gainesville, Ga., quickly answered the call.

A.J. Johnson caught Dooley's eye on the first day of practice, joined Curt Maggitt as the Vols' first starting freshmen linebackers in history and put up eye-popping numbers that made him a consensus freshman All-American.

"He made a couple of moves, and then I said, 'He's ready,' " Dooley recalled of that first day of practice. "He's a baller, all right. You can see 'em like that."

Johnson is trying to build on the reputation he made as a freshman as part of what could be the strongest unit in a revamped defense.

"I think it helps to have a year under my belt," Johnson said Saturday during an interview at the Vols' media day. "I know the game speed. I know all the situations."

Johnson is surprisingly critical of his play as a freshman — "I didn't have great technique," he said — but the results spoke loudly. He finished with 80 tackles, best of any freshman in the SEC, including 36 in a three-game span against then-No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama and No. 14 South Carolina. Only Eric Berry had a comparable stretch as a freshman.

His impressive first season has raised hopes for the second. It begins Aug. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, just 50 miles southwest of his hometown in a stadium he remembers from high school playoff games.

"I know it's a great environment," he said.

Johnson was a consensus four-star prospect who arrived in Knoxville with high expectations that were quickly inflated by then-line coach Lance Thompson, who raved about Johnson and Maggitt after a mid-August scrimmage.

His comments were similar to those of current defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, who opined earlier this month that Johnson and Maggitt were among the finest young linebackers he'd ever coached. That hasn't stopped Sunseri from pushing Johnson in practice.

"He's not really a crazy man," Johnson said with a laugh. "He's a great coach. As players we know he wants the best for us. He really wants us to go out there and learn the defense."

Johnson said he played in a 3-4 scheme in high school, so adjusting to some of Sunseri's changes hasn't been difficult. He also sharpened his focus in the weight room during the offseason, watching his diet and chiseling his frame down to a firmer 240 pounds.

He's taken advice from Lathers, who has been sidelined with an injured quadriceps for much of camp, but has promised to be ready to play in the opener. When he does, he'll be lining up next to Johnson and Maggitt for the first time.

"I saw a lot of potential in those guys last year, but as freshmen, they didn't have the chance to learn the defense like they needed to," Lathers said. "Since last year ended, I've seen guys who are willing and eager to learn. They stayed hungry and humble and put in the work they needed to. We all studied together and spent a lot of time together. Those guys are real special to me. I'm glad I get to play with them."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat

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Comments » 90

AtopTheHill06 writes:

The sky is the limit for this kid. He can make himself a top-ten pick with more hard work this year and next.

Rumblefish writes:

Dear KNS....since the college football season is just around the corner, please stop posting articles that leave us fans frothing at the mouth waiting for the season to start.

Let's go Tennessee. I'm ready to shock some folks and get back to talking trash to the gator and bama fans I know.

TheVolSnake writes:

Our LB's should be outstanding this year, our D. lineman have made great strides.

Phil Steele has our Defense rated as the 11th best in the nation.

http://www.philsteele.com/Blogs/2012/...

If our Defense as good as they can be watch out we will be a force both on Offense and Defense.

Injuries + lack of depth and because of no running game on offense kept our defense on the field way to long last year. This year with an offense that should move the chains and some depth on defense our defensive personnel should stay fresh the whole game.

I cant wait and am very excited and cant wait to see the Vol's this year.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

I just love how every article I read lately has players showing great leadership in it. Lathers is that guy. Johnson sounds like he will be too.

The attitude of the players is a 180 from what most of them seemed to have last season. Of course, last season they were wounded and under the thumb of all the more experienced teams in the league. This year, they will come out of the gate with that chip on their shoulder. Can't wait.

louavol writes:

IMO, Dooley has a great eye for talent. Whether or not he and his staff can develop that talent into a winning SEC team is still unknown.

But, the concern I have is that the current "big boys" of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, etc.) are watching Dooley pick the up and comers, offer them, and then the "big boys" rush in and pick them off on signing day.

Dooley didn't get to be the recruiting coordinator at Alabama for no reason. So, he's obviously respected for his ability to find talent at the earliest stage. To date, you'll always find Tennessee on the list of just about every top 150 recruit. The problem is, they don't get very many.

At this stage, UT is on a par with Boise State: finding three star gems and "coaching them up." The unknown is whether or not Dooley and staff has the ability to "coach them up."

You can say that UT has several legitimate stars in guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers, Johnson and Maggitt. But, to excel in the SEC, you have to have more than a handful of potential NFL players - you have to have quality depth and great coaching.

This year, Dooley has inferred that UT is "back." So, we're about to find out what that means. Hopefully, for Dooley, it means quality wins and competitive losses against top rivals.

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to louavol:

IMO, Dooley has a great eye for talent. Whether or not he and his staff can develop that talent into a winning SEC team is still unknown.

But, the concern I have is that the current "big boys" of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, etc.) are watching Dooley pick the up and comers, offer them, and then the "big boys" rush in and pick them off on signing day.

Dooley didn't get to be the recruiting coordinator at Alabama for no reason. So, he's obviously respected for his ability to find talent at the earliest stage. To date, you'll always find Tennessee on the list of just about every top 150 recruit. The problem is, they don't get very many.

At this stage, UT is on a par with Boise State: finding three star gems and "coaching them up." The unknown is whether or not Dooley and staff has the ability to "coach them up."

You can say that UT has several legitimate stars in guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers, Johnson and Maggitt. But, to excel in the SEC, you have to have more than a handful of potential NFL players - you have to have quality depth and great coaching.

This year, Dooley has inferred that UT is "back." So, we're about to find out what that means. Hopefully, for Dooley, it means quality wins and competitive losses against top rivals.

To make you point Dooley offered Josh Smith a scholarship this summer and Smith committed at the time Smith wasn’t ranked by any service but Is now a 2 star by Rivals and 2 stars on scouts but expect him to move up.

Commitment has huge game: One future Vol had a huge start to his high school season Friday night. Receiver Josh Smith of Christian Academy of Knoxville, who is committed to the Vols, caught eight passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns as his team defeated Anderson County 76-45, according to stats published by the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Smith also returned two punts (72, 55) for touchdowns.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Smith caught a combined 164 passes for 2,965 yards and 37 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons.

Supersayin1 writes:

AJ Johnson and Curt Maggit are the 2nd coming of Al Wilson and Leonard Little! And Having Herman Lathers in the middle is gonna make this LB trio that much more dangerous! Don't count out Greg King either! GO VOLS!!

AshyVol writes:

in response to louavol:

IMO, Dooley has a great eye for talent. Whether or not he and his staff can develop that talent into a winning SEC team is still unknown.

But, the concern I have is that the current "big boys" of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, etc.) are watching Dooley pick the up and comers, offer them, and then the "big boys" rush in and pick them off on signing day.

Dooley didn't get to be the recruiting coordinator at Alabama for no reason. So, he's obviously respected for his ability to find talent at the earliest stage. To date, you'll always find Tennessee on the list of just about every top 150 recruit. The problem is, they don't get very many.

At this stage, UT is on a par with Boise State: finding three star gems and "coaching them up." The unknown is whether or not Dooley and staff has the ability to "coach them up."

You can say that UT has several legitimate stars in guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers, Johnson and Maggitt. But, to excel in the SEC, you have to have more than a handful of potential NFL players - you have to have quality depth and great coaching.

This year, Dooley has inferred that UT is "back." So, we're about to find out what that means. Hopefully, for Dooley, it means quality wins and competitive losses against top rivals.

Great comments, louavol.

We just need to win a few big games to get some of the big time recruits committing to UT.

I think most UT fans would be happy with an 8-4 season, with some competitive losses against the toughest teams. That's all I ask for.

cloudodust writes:

in response to AtopTheHill06:

The sky is the limit for this kid. He can make himself a top-ten pick with more hard work this year and next.

He committed to UT in his Soph or Jr year of high school and even with the turmoil Atop Rocky preceeding his signing, he never waivered. He'll play his 2nd year of eligibility with the intesity of a Mayo in HIS 3rd year of eligibility. Hope he sticks around for 4 but with his eye on the Show, I doubt it. Working a 3-4 for 2 years might just hone his skills. All in all, he's a Tennessee guy...THWF, THWG...GBO

rockytopjeff writes:

I live in Gainesville Georgia and have been watching this kid since he was in 10th grade. You should see him on the Basketball court!! He is a freak!!! I am really glad we have him, there is no telling how good he will be with Sal coaching him up. He is another Al Wilson. Stay focused A.J. you are gonna be a superstar!!!

huntwithmojo writes:

@TheVolSnake

Looks like the computers have Tenn being a vastly improved team this season. Offense and Defense. They have Vols as #2 most improved rush offense. I think Antonio Richardson and Dallas Thomas are a big reason why. Nice duo to have Bray's backside too...

http://www.philsteele.com/Blogs/2012/...

FWBVol writes:

in response to louavol:

IMO, Dooley has a great eye for talent. Whether or not he and his staff can develop that talent into a winning SEC team is still unknown.

But, the concern I have is that the current "big boys" of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, etc.) are watching Dooley pick the up and comers, offer them, and then the "big boys" rush in and pick them off on signing day.

Dooley didn't get to be the recruiting coordinator at Alabama for no reason. So, he's obviously respected for his ability to find talent at the earliest stage. To date, you'll always find Tennessee on the list of just about every top 150 recruit. The problem is, they don't get very many.

At this stage, UT is on a par with Boise State: finding three star gems and "coaching them up." The unknown is whether or not Dooley and staff has the ability to "coach them up."

You can say that UT has several legitimate stars in guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers, Johnson and Maggitt. But, to excel in the SEC, you have to have more than a handful of potential NFL players - you have to have quality depth and great coaching.

This year, Dooley has inferred that UT is "back." So, we're about to find out what that means. Hopefully, for Dooley, it means quality wins and competitive losses against top rivals.

While I agree with what you are saying about Dooley's eye for talent, he actually was recruiting coordinator at LSU, not Alabama. He was with Saban at LSU and with the Dolphins, but by the time Saban ended up at Bama CDD was at La. Tech.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

To make you point Dooley offered Josh Smith a scholarship this summer and Smith committed at the time Smith wasn’t ranked by any service but Is now a 2 star by Rivals and 2 stars on scouts but expect him to move up.

Commitment has huge game: One future Vol had a huge start to his high school season Friday night. Receiver Josh Smith of Christian Academy of Knoxville, who is committed to the Vols, caught eight passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns as his team defeated Anderson County 76-45, according to stats published by the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Smith also returned two punts (72, 55) for touchdowns.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Smith caught a combined 164 passes for 2,965 yards and 37 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons.

I'll give him credit on the Josh Smith offer. Dude is a baller. I think Josh's competition level hurt his recruiting rankings. However, he's graded out as an elite player in camps.

But I do have to question them not taking DaShawn Mobley from right here in Knoxville. Dude rushed for 3,000+yds in one season in 5A football. James Stewart, Reggie Cobb, Troy Fleming, and Travis Stephens all played HS RBin the state of Tennessee and I think we would all take those guys as RBs right now if we could. Point being, Mobley crushed the state rushing record in a state where all those guys played. Not to mention Devrin Young, and other guys like Leroy Thompson, Greg Cooper, Dennis Rogan, etc. there have been some great RBs to come from this state, Mobley has the state record. We passed on him and took Borque who is now at home and isn't coming back. Keep in mind, Borque was committed to LSU before he decided on UT. LSU was offering him for LB, not RB. And yes, he had a higher ranking than Mobley...as an athlete. But many top programs were not gonna give him a scholly to play RB. Point being, he was an elite athlete, not sure he was an elite RB, JMO. So while Dooley has done a good job, he's had a few brain farts as well.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to AshyVol:

Great comments, louavol.

We just need to win a few big games to get some of the big time recruits committing to UT.

I think most UT fans would be happy with an 8-4 season, with some competitive losses against the toughest teams. That's all I ask for.

I'm not sure. I think most of us would take 8-4 with a win or two over the big boys and the losses being competitive. I'm not going for 8-4 with losses to UF, Bama, USCe, and UGA. Sorry, but that ain't gonna cut it. IMO USCe is vastly over rated. People act like losing Alshon Jeffries was no big thing. They also lost Stephon Gilmore, a 4 year starter. And I can't see that they've replaced them. I think UF and USCe should be VERY winnable games. I'm also not sure why Bama is being written off as a loss. Almost every player they are replacing was an all-American. Replacing an all-American with a 4-5* doesn't mean you simply get the same result at that position. On top of that, Bama has a new OC. There's no guarantee on how those things work out. I'm not saying Bama will be bad, but I don't think 2-3 losses is unrealistic for them. Nor do I think we are an automatic victory for them.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

Good player, needs to be faster though. If he picked up a step or two during the summer, he'll be solid. He looked agonizingly slow at times last year.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Good player, needs to be faster though. If he picked up a step or two during the summer, he'll be solid. He looked agonizingly slow at times last year.

And you are agonizingly pitiful. If you don't like my TENNESSEE VOLS and their coaches, do us all a favor and don't post here. Well, I know that ain't gonna happen because you crave attention and never really made it big at anything, even life. So, I choose to ignore you, and hope that all true Vol fans will do the same. Now, the name calling...Later Loser. GBO...VFL

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Good player, needs to be faster though. If he picked up a step or two during the summer, he'll be solid. He looked agonizingly slow at times last year.

What was Brandon Spikes 40 time at the combine? I'm pretty sure it was HORRIBLE. On the other hand, even though I couldn't stand him, I always thought he was a great LB for UF. A punk kinda like you, but a good player.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

And you are agonizingly pitiful. If you don't like my TENNESSEE VOLS and their coaches, do us all a favor and don't post here. Well, I know that ain't gonna happen because you crave attention and never really made it big at anything, even life. So, I choose to ignore you, and hope that all true Vol fans will do the same. Now, the name calling...Later Loser. GBO...VFL

Of course, when you're 1-7 in the SEC, everybody was slow.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

I know Brandon Spikes, I watched every game he ever played in. Johnson is no Spikes!... yet.

Look, I complimented the guy, he's a solid player and has done good things in the weight room this offseason. I think we'd all agree it would be ideal if he were a step faster. No?

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Good player, needs to be faster though. If he picked up a step or two during the summer, he'll be solid. He looked agonizingly slow at times last year.

Yeah, ok... he was only a freshman all american for being agonizingly slow. I can see why you're coaching. Oh yeah... you're not.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

I know Brandon Spikes, I watched every game he ever played in. Johnson is no Spikes!... yet.

Look, I complimented the guy, he's a solid player and has done good things in the weight room this offseason. I think we'd all agree it would be ideal if he were a step faster. No?

You're right... he's not Spikes yet. He hasn't gauged anyone's eyes out yet.

CrankE writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

What was Brandon Spikes 40 time at the combine? I'm pretty sure it was HORRIBLE. On the other hand, even though I couldn't stand him, I always thought he was a great LB for UF. A punk kinda like you, but a good player.

What Spikes lacks on the 40, I'm sure he makes up with mad skillz at eye gouging. Eat your heart out Moe Howard!

VolGrad writes:

Anything 4.5 and below at LB is never "agonizingly" slow or any other kind of slow. That was all our starting LB's 40 times last year, and AJ claims to have gotten faster. Sounds like sometrolly on here is having to nic pick.

Go Vols! Beat the Pack!!!

clcvol writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

I'll give him credit on the Josh Smith offer. Dude is a baller. I think Josh's competition level hurt his recruiting rankings. However, he's graded out as an elite player in camps.

But I do have to question them not taking DaShawn Mobley from right here in Knoxville. Dude rushed for 3,000+yds in one season in 5A football. James Stewart, Reggie Cobb, Troy Fleming, and Travis Stephens all played HS RBin the state of Tennessee and I think we would all take those guys as RBs right now if we could. Point being, Mobley crushed the state rushing record in a state where all those guys played. Not to mention Devrin Young, and other guys like Leroy Thompson, Greg Cooper, Dennis Rogan, etc. there have been some great RBs to come from this state, Mobley has the state record. We passed on him and took Borque who is now at home and isn't coming back. Keep in mind, Borque was committed to LSU before he decided on UT. LSU was offering him for LB, not RB. And yes, he had a higher ranking than Mobley...as an athlete. But many top programs were not gonna give him a scholly to play RB. Point being, he was an elite athlete, not sure he was an elite RB, JMO. So while Dooley has done a good job, he's had a few brain farts as well.

Sometimes you got to roll the dice with recruits. We went for Bourque instead of Mobley, and lost. It happens every year, unfortunately.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yet.

BTW, how many years of mediocrity does Florida have to live through for us to start telling these trolls they're living in the past (the way they tell us)? Are they here trolling all the time because Florida has become irrelevant?

VolGrad writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yet.

BTW, how many years of mediocrity does Florida have to live through for us to start telling these trolls they're living in the past (the way they tell us)? Are they here trolling all the time because Florida has become irrelevant?

Doesn't matter. It's just "their way."

They just want to keep us down. What they don't realize is they're just kicking last year's "dead horse" which we are using for an ambush.

Here gator, gator.

Go Vols! This is BOC!! Beat the Pack!!!

Jakevol writes:

Look forward seeing AJ in in Atlanta. He seems stronger and is ready step on some faces.

Beat the Wolfpack,, go Vols.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yet.

BTW, how many years of mediocrity does Florida have to live through for us to start telling these trolls they're living in the past (the way they tell us)? Are they here trolling all the time because Florida has become irrelevant?

On the nose! They troll here because they have no pride in their teams anymore. It's always "remember when". Well, then was then, and now is now. We're bigger, stronger, faster, more unified and motivated thanks to some good recruiting and coaching. Some of the trolls have realized this and backed off a little. The others aren't quite as bright. So, look out boys we' re on our way back, and just might already be there . GET IN OR GET LEFT BEHIND. ALL VOL ..ALL THE TIME ..GBO..VFL TIME FOR SOME FOOTBAWL.

TheCopper writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He also hasn't acted like a stupid child and posted idiot comments on another team's message board. Grow up, fool. We know you and Dumb*** Charlie are afraid. Smoky can smell it.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, first off, it's not good for you to be on this site, and secondly..That's all that matters..GBO...VFL.. OH, One more thing. You ain't smart enough to make anybody on this site mad..Go away litle Troll Girl

TheVolSnake writes:

Vol’s vs. North Carolina State Match up

NC State on Defense has a top CB in the nation and 4th overall ranked secondary in the nation. NC State does have some major holes that the Vols can attack. Their linebackers are the youngest Tom O'Brien has had to work with ever. Young linebackers mean lots of opportunities for the run game and the short passing game to flourish. Their run defense gave up a lot of yards and scores last season.

Vols Offense has the 3rd best receiving Corp in the nation, with Hunter and d. Rodgers being in the top 10 in the nation. Bray is ranked 12 best QB in the nation (comparison NC State Mike Glennon is at 12). By all indications the Vol’s O. Line and running game is dramatically improved, but until the first game is still a unknown. We do however know that the Vol O. Line last year was great in pass protection giving up only 18 sacks all year and this was against the top defenses in the nation.

NC State Offense, like the Vols had major issues running the ball last year. NC States offensive line allowed a lot of sacks last year (34) NC state lost all their top receivers last year and the only receiver with a large amount of playing time went down with an injury so their whole receiving Corp is inexperienced and some this will be their first game. Like the Vol’s their running game is unknown and last year had even less of a running attack than the Vol’s. Glennon tossed 31 touchdown passes, which is the second-most in a single season in school history, while passing for more than 3,000 yards and completing nearly 63 percent of his attempts.

The Vols Defense has a super strong LB Corp and a good Secondary; two keys will determine how good/great they can be. 1 the front 7 stopping the run and putting pressure on the QB. 2. How much the Vols have picked up on the new 3-4 defense. Phil Steele has the Vols having the ranked the 11th best defense in the nation.

What to expect: The Vols will run the ball except the first series being heavy on the run or short passes for the Vol’s. If the Vols have success running they will stay with the run, therefore negating NC States great secondary. Once the Vol’s have an established run game they will then open up the passing attack. The Vol’s Defense will put pressure on Glennon who when under pressure is very prone to make mistakes.

NC states offense will try to establish the passing attack first, thinking that the Vol’s major weakness is the secondary. However during the Vol’s scrimmages they have show they are prone to a running attack. If NC State fails to run the ball, they will have major issues with a young inexperienced receiving Corp. If the Vol’s Defense is as good as it can be it will be a long day for NC states Offense.

Prediction Vol’s Win Big and have 200+ yards running the ball, Neal will have a career day and the Vol’s will be around 300 yards passing. The Vol’s defense stops the Wolf pack passing attack.

PUL4VOLS writes:

I say bring on the offenses and we will see what Johnson, Maggitt, Lathers and the others can do. I am looking forward to whatever the Vols have this year. I am believing it will be exciting. I do not care who they did not pick, who left, who did this or that. I am concerned with the ones who will step up and be the Men we need to compete on Saturdays(well Friday on Aug. 31st). Why do we have to hear all the junk about recruiting over and over and over? We didn't get this one blah blah blah. The big boys swooped in on that one blah blah blah. I'm ready for us to shut up and put up on the field of play and by golly it's almost time for that to happen.

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Boy’s

If I was you I would be very worried about Texas A&M they are out to make a statement that they belong in the SEC. They have a very good team both Offense and Defense, where as your Gators have a great Defense (One of the best in the nation) but major questions on Offense.

I don’t believe you will come off with a win at Union Station and will be demoralized by the Aggies.

So you may want to go away or go to a Aggies site and talk your smack till your offense proves themselves.

SCVFL writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

I'm not sure. I think most of us would take 8-4 with a win or two over the big boys and the losses being competitive. I'm not going for 8-4 with losses to UF, Bama, USCe, and UGA. Sorry, but that ain't gonna cut it. IMO USCe is vastly over rated. People act like losing Alshon Jeffries was no big thing. They also lost Stephon Gilmore, a 4 year starter. And I can't see that they've replaced them. I think UF and USCe should be VERY winnable games. I'm also not sure why Bama is being written off as a loss. Almost every player they are replacing was an all-American. Replacing an all-American with a 4-5* doesn't mean you simply get the same result at that position. On top of that, Bama has a new OC. There's no guarantee on how those things work out. I'm not saying Bama will be bad, but I don't think 2-3 losses is unrealistic for them. Nor do I think we are an automatic victory for them.

You know, In one of the KNS Polls, I commented that 8-4 would keep CDD here but would not be a "great" season unless it included a win over Al, Ga, Fl, or SC. 10-2 would be a great season. I think UT has ability to beat a couple of those guys. I am just fearful they will slip up and lose a stupid one(MissST or Mizzou).
The news these days about all of the "stars" on both sides of the ball make it sound like UT is on verge of a NC. I am a CDD supporter and I think he has done wonders with what he started, but I think I will remain excitedly cautious about this season.
On subject, I really think that AJ, Meggit, and Lathers may be one of the best LB cores in CFB.
Love me some VOL football
GO BIG RNG...VFL

TheCopper writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ooh, you said "Dool aid". Did you make that up all by yourself or did your mommy teach you that. Try to come up with something a little more original next time. By the way, moron, let me assure you that I am no kid. You are afraid, you just can't admit it. If UT is so irrelevant and no threat whatsoever to the Gators, why are you constantly on here posting your trash comments? The Vols are obviously in your head or you wouldn't be wasting your time on here.

VolGrad writes:

in response to Jakevol:

Look forward seeing AJ in in Atlanta. He seems stronger and is ready step on some faces.

Beat the Wolfpack,, go Vols.

I hear that. Go Vols!

SevenT writes:

I wonder why this guy settled on playing for UT, perhaps his other offers were pulled for some reason? He can't make every play so now he is looking at another 5-7 season. But maybe UT will get it right this time and hire a better coach.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First off you're probably not old enough to know what a "Buddy" is, and I sure as H*** ain't yours. Secondly, you must have some deep seeded problems to crave attention the way you do. And with that, I grab my clubs and off to the Golf course I go. Maybe you could get your Mommy to take you on a play date, and you wouldn't be so lonely. GBO VFL

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to huntwithmojo:

@TheVolSnake

Looks like the computers have Tenn being a vastly improved team this season. Offense and Defense. They have Vols as #2 most improved rush offense. I think Antonio Richardson and Dallas Thomas are a big reason why. Nice duo to have Bray's backside too...

http://www.philsteele.com/Blogs/2012/...

Yes I read the article before and I think the O. Line and running attack will be dramatically improved.

Another thing is last year we moved a lot of players around on the line because of injuries, this year; so far everyone is healthy and we have a set back up for each position, so we don't have to shuffle the whole line if a player goes down. Also with the depth we will be able to rotate players in and out to rest the starters and keep them fresh for the whole game. We couldn't do that a lot last year.

luvmatersoup writes:

Yep, yep, yep....this is what I'm talking about! I knew this dude would be good but had no idea when he signed, he have the potential to be one of the greats. Thinks is people like this that should be roomates with Tyler instead of a 26 year that knowone can verify what he's doing for work, school, etc. I don't know, somoething about that guy scares me! Anyway, go Vols and hey, it's almost football time in Tenness. Rocky Shock is only days away!

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Living in DC, I'm no cowboy fan but question.....I have read and read your post but ole' luvmatersoup has no clue what you are saying? What in the world did you mean when you said....Offense that finished as one of the worst in the nation....I'm thinking you are being realistic and pointing out that the Florida offense has slacked in years past and honestly, it appears to have taken another step back this year. I am all Vol and don't wish harm on any team but injuries this summer have really hurt Florida. I really think if you give it time, Florida will rebuild. Every team goes through slumps. Good Luck and Go Vols and RG III! P.S.Can't wait till we play you guys!

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Boy's

You keep making these claims on your QB’s but last year’s stats on the two don’t support your claims:

Brissett completed 46.2 percent of his passes for 206 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Driskel wasn't any better, completing 47.1 percent of his passes for 148 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions, and 1.16 yards per carry for supposedly mobile quarterbacks.

Now we will find out when you play Texas A&M on if you have any kind of Offense.

We will see what the Vol’s have on the 31st, so by the end of week two most questions will be answered.

luvmatersoup writes:

I'm thinking it's about time for lunch. Can we say tomato soup and sandwhich. Oh yeah baby.....and a mout full of all ORANGE!!!! It's almost time my friend. God speed and let's eat!

SCVFL writes:

in response to luvmatersoup:

I'm thinking it's about time for lunch. Can we say tomato soup and sandwhich. Oh yeah baby.....and a mout full of all ORANGE!!!! It's almost time my friend. God speed and let's eat!

I grew up on mator soup and grilled cheese samiches. My mom told me once that even the thought of it made her sick.
I have that ORANGE taste in my mouth and can not wait til next Friday. Vols 35 NCST 24
Love me some VOL football
GO BIG RNG...VFL

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to SCVFL:

I grew up on mator soup and grilled cheese samiches. My mom told me once that even the thought of it made her sick.
I have that ORANGE taste in my mouth and can not wait til next Friday. Vols 35 NCST 24
Love me some VOL football
GO BIG RNG...VFL

SCVFL, Oh yeah…..tomato soup and grilled cheese…can’t beat it and especially in the Winter when the snows flying. Alright folks, 8 more days!!!! GO VOLS!

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to SCVFL:

I grew up on mator soup and grilled cheese samiches. My mom told me once that even the thought of it made her sick.
I have that ORANGE taste in my mouth and can not wait til next Friday. Vols 35 NCST 24
Love me some VOL football
GO BIG RNG...VFL

SCVFL, I've go to admit that when I just re-read your post, you mentioning that you have that ORANGE taste in your mouth sounds ALOT better than my post where I mention putting something orange in my mouth!!! Thanks for not calling me on that one! Oh well, guess it does sound better than other things I could put in my mouth. Ouch!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Didn't UF have injuries to key offense players AFTER the UT game?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

I'll give him credit on the Josh Smith offer. Dude is a baller. I think Josh's competition level hurt his recruiting rankings. However, he's graded out as an elite player in camps.

But I do have to question them not taking DaShawn Mobley from right here in Knoxville. Dude rushed for 3,000+yds in one season in 5A football. James Stewart, Reggie Cobb, Troy Fleming, and Travis Stephens all played HS RBin the state of Tennessee and I think we would all take those guys as RBs right now if we could. Point being, Mobley crushed the state rushing record in a state where all those guys played. Not to mention Devrin Young, and other guys like Leroy Thompson, Greg Cooper, Dennis Rogan, etc. there have been some great RBs to come from this state, Mobley has the state record. We passed on him and took Borque who is now at home and isn't coming back. Keep in mind, Borque was committed to LSU before he decided on UT. LSU was offering him for LB, not RB. And yes, he had a higher ranking than Mobley...as an athlete. But many top programs were not gonna give him a scholly to play RB. Point being, he was an elite athlete, not sure he was an elite RB, JMO. So while Dooley has done a good job, he's had a few brain farts as well.

Dang, Rich, 3:53 a.m.? Good points for the middle of the night. I would think that despite all the rhetoric expended on the need to recruit better within the state, the Vols haven't really excelled with the great in-state players in decades. Of course, we get a couple a year, but more than that seem to be productive at programs at least as big as UT, and the Vols ought to be in on all of them. I will believe til the day I die that an in-state kid will play a "star" or two above his recruiting-service rating, no matter what his level of competition. I think that would be true of most of the great state university programs nationally. A team must always take chances in recruiting; why not give the benefit of every possible doubt to the local kid?

PS: I hope you are getting enough sleep. I always love to see your stuff but I can wait until sun-up for it!

luvmatersoup writes:

Hey, speaking of things that sound crazy, anyone hear of the 5 year old child that wore a University of Michigan t-shirt to school the other day and was forced to wear it inside out all day long? The Oklahoma School Board has a regulation that forbids anyone from wearing apparel to school that displays anything other than Oklahoma teams. Boy, and people say us Vols are backwards???? Oh well, go BIG ORANGE!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

Vol’s vs. North Carolina State Match up

NC State on Defense has a top CB in the nation and 4th overall ranked secondary in the nation. NC State does have some major holes that the Vols can attack. Their linebackers are the youngest Tom O'Brien has had to work with ever. Young linebackers mean lots of opportunities for the run game and the short passing game to flourish. Their run defense gave up a lot of yards and scores last season.

Vols Offense has the 3rd best receiving Corp in the nation, with Hunter and d. Rodgers being in the top 10 in the nation. Bray is ranked 12 best QB in the nation (comparison NC State Mike Glennon is at 12). By all indications the Vol’s O. Line and running game is dramatically improved, but until the first game is still a unknown. We do however know that the Vol O. Line last year was great in pass protection giving up only 18 sacks all year and this was against the top defenses in the nation.

NC State Offense, like the Vols had major issues running the ball last year. NC States offensive line allowed a lot of sacks last year (34) NC state lost all their top receivers last year and the only receiver with a large amount of playing time went down with an injury so their whole receiving Corp is inexperienced and some this will be their first game. Like the Vol’s their running game is unknown and last year had even less of a running attack than the Vol’s. Glennon tossed 31 touchdown passes, which is the second-most in a single season in school history, while passing for more than 3,000 yards and completing nearly 63 percent of his attempts.

The Vols Defense has a super strong LB Corp and a good Secondary; two keys will determine how good/great they can be. 1 the front 7 stopping the run and putting pressure on the QB. 2. How much the Vols have picked up on the new 3-4 defense. Phil Steele has the Vols having the ranked the 11th best defense in the nation.

What to expect: The Vols will run the ball except the first series being heavy on the run or short passes for the Vol’s. If the Vols have success running they will stay with the run, therefore negating NC States great secondary. Once the Vol’s have an established run game they will then open up the passing attack. The Vol’s Defense will put pressure on Glennon who when under pressure is very prone to make mistakes.

NC states offense will try to establish the passing attack first, thinking that the Vol’s major weakness is the secondary. However during the Vol’s scrimmages they have show they are prone to a running attack. If NC State fails to run the ball, they will have major issues with a young inexperienced receiving Corp. If the Vol’s Defense is as good as it can be it will be a long day for NC states Offense.

Prediction Vol’s Win Big and have 200+ yards running the ball, Neal will have a career day and the Vol’s will be around 300 yards passing. The Vol’s defense stops the Wolf pack passing attack.

From your keyboard to God's eyes! Would that it be so!

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