Daniel McCullers wasn't interested in hometown N.C. State

McCullers not a Wolfpack fan growing up

Daniel McCullers

Photo by Govols247

Daniel McCullers

With 'Rocky Top' blaring, Tennessee practices for final time before opener

The last time Daniel McCullers played a real football game he estimated there were "maybe 20" people in the stands.

It'll be a little different scene Friday night in Atlanta.

The McCullers delegation alone will number close to 20, swallowed up in a capacity crowd of 71,000 at the Georgia Dome when Tennessee opens the 2012 season.

Most of the McCullers delegation will be coming into town on I-85 with all those North Carolina State fans.

"I'm getting very excited,'' McCullers said this week, "just thinking about being in front of that crowd, going against N.C. State from my hometown.''

The 7:30 p.m. kickoff in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (TV: ESPNU) finds the Raleigh, N.C., product in a Tennessee uniform for his Division I debut.

The 6-foot-8, 360-pound nose tackle professes to have virtually no affinity with the school from his hometown.

"I liked the Tar Heels back when I was younger,'' he said.

That would be the North Carolina Tar Heels from just up the road in Chapel Hill. McCullers said he can recall attending only one N.C. State home game.

"My sophomore year of high school, they played ECU,'' he said. "That's it. I was closer to the Tar Heels.''

As a prospect — a large prospect — at Southeast Raleigh High School, McCullers fell behind the academic eight-ball early and never caught up. He liked Wake Forest but playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference wasn't an option.

McCullers said he heard from Livingston University in Alabama but was determined to play Division I football. That meant junior college.

"My coaches told me Georgia Military College wanted to talk to me,'' he said. "They came down and I signed a scholarship right on the spot.''

So McCullers passed the next two years off the radar, restoring his academic resume in Milledgeville, Ga.

That's where Tennessee found him. N.C. State noticed, too, McCullers said.

"They offered me,'' he said, "but they wanted me to play offensive line. That ain't my thing.

"Hitting people, hitting the quarterback, that's fun. That's what I like to do.''

Said N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien. "He wanted to play defense. He kind of told us to go take a hike.''

When he starts hitting the Wolfpack on Friday night, he won't find many old friends. The only N.C. State player he's ever been a teammate with is receiver Tobias Palmer from Georgia Military.

McCullers admitted there might be some nerves to work through on opening night. He expects to play in the neighborhood of 30 snaps.

By all accounts, he's made the most of his time since he arrived at Tennessee in May.

"He has shown improvement every day and I mean that,'' said coach Derek Dooley. "That's not just coach speak. He really has.

"Every day we say 'you've got to do better at this and you've got to do better at that,' and he's conscientious and he works at it.''

Daniel Hood, who will share reps at nose tackle, is glad to have McCullers in the mix.

"He's gotten a lot better,'' Hood said. "He's starting to learn the work ethic we work with here.

"He's still working on it but it's incredible to see how far he's come.''

He has come far — all the way from Raleigh.

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Comments » 18

spvol writes:

OWN THE DOME!!! GBO

snack writes:

I can't wait to see the defense in action. I remember the Steve Keiner days and the 'Hacksaw' Reynolds, Manly Mixon days of tearing the opposing offense up...Defense will lead the Vols to a huge margin...that along with Tyler Bray.

movol77 writes:

30 snaps sounds about right. 3-and-out times 10 for NCSt

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I remember Leon Lett's debut against the eagles a while back..He totally manhandled the interior O-linemen of Philly..I get the feeling D-Mac truck will do the same..GBO!

OrangePsyched writes:

Mac,Sentimore,Couch on DL..Smith,Johnson,Maggitt,Lathers at LB..that front seven can wreck some havoc. Defense creates a turnover. Offense gets the ball..GIVE HIM SIX TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE! Less than 48 hrs. boys. ROCKY TOP!

VolzsFan writes:

30 snaps will be about half the game or less. In other words, half the game will be played by walk ons and others down the food chain. When you look at the two deep defensive line, it should make Vol fans sweat. I know it makes the Vol opponents laugh.

Vols20 writes:

There is no Livingston University in Alabama. It is now West Alabama.

laraccoon writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I remember Leon Lett's debut against the eagles a while back..He totally manhandled the interior O-linemen of Philly..I get the feeling D-Mac truck will do the same..GBO!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

30 snaps will be about half the game or less. In other words, half the game will be played by walk ons and others down the food chain. When you look at the two deep defensive line, it should make Vol fans sweat. I know it makes the Vol opponents laugh.

Marlon Walls, Daniel Hood, and Cori Miller are not your run of the mill "slouch" players you make them out to be. They might not have been dominant in the past, partly due to too many reps/lack of depth. Rotating in and out within the 2deep, I think you'll see that they're some pretty damn good players. Especially to be the backups. I expect to see Big Mac on early downs, and short yd situations/goaline. Then a quicker front line in long yardage situations. Perhaps moving a guy like Couch inside with Sentimore and Walls/Miller at end. Don't sleep on Traveras Saulsbury. He might not make an impact right off the bat. But I expect the RS freshman to come along as the season progresses. To say the front line doesn't look the best it has since 08 would be rather foolish. Look, I'm not convinced Dooley is the answer. Maybe he is maybe he isn't. I'm critical of certain things he's done. But one thing I'll never deny. He's done a great job building a solid foundation that will help Tennessee get back, whether it's with him as the coach or someone else. And it starts with the D-line. If I were you I would find a different unit to diss. These dudes are the truth.

VOLFAN4LIFEgovols writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

30 snaps will be about half the game or less. In other words, half the game will be played by walk ons and others down the food chain. When you look at the two deep defensive line, it should make Vol fans sweat. I know it makes the Vol opponents laugh.

I think ill go with what the experts say about UT'S D Line rather than some troll. 30 snaps is about right look at Chavis he constantly rotates dlineman and hes the best in the business. I hope oppentants are laughing though so they get caught overlooking UT.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

30 snaps will be about half the game or less. In other words, half the game will be played by walk ons and others down the food chain. When you look at the two deep defensive line, it should make Vol fans sweat. I know it makes the Vol opponents laugh.

I don't think NCSU's offense will get much more than 60 snaps, so about half is right. The rest of what you said is retarded. I don't think you'll see a single walk-on on the D-line, or even on the field, for that matter. And as for "others down the food chain," just about everybody on the opposing line this week is from farther down the food chain than our back-ups.

voloffaith writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

30 snaps will be about half the game or less. In other words, half the game will be played by walk ons and others down the food chain. When you look at the two deep defensive line, it should make Vol fans sweat. I know it makes the Vol opponents laugh.

Sadly they are laughing at you.. a gater fan on our website talking smacko/nonsense.....D will be fine as game one is the get a good feel for how everybody is playing at real speed and make the necessary adjustments...

allvol8 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

30 snaps will be about half the game or less. In other words, half the game will be played by walk ons and others down the food chain. When you look at the two deep defensive line, it should make Vol fans sweat. I know it makes the Vol opponents laugh.

I dare you to say that to their faces...you would be stepped on like a bug and no one would miss you.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Once again another decent forum hijacked by a know nothing troll..Will we never learn to ignore them?? Signing OBrien;Sentimore and McCullers lets us put all those undersized underachieving front 4's in the past..Hard to say if our new front will stuff the run or get sacks but we won't be getting pushed around anymore..At the very least it's going to produce some back breaking hits by our LB's

SCVFL writes:

Half of the snaps is what you want. Keeps everybody fresh for the 4th. In past we have had guys taking 45-50 and no longer effective in 4th.
Brining in JuCos also allows Frehman to redshirt and grow stronger.
Thanks Daniel for picking TENNESSEE.
VOLS 31 NCST 24
Love me some VOL football
GO BIG RNG...VFL

bigjvol22 writes:

cant wait 2 get 2 the dome friday ...... ready 2 make UT loud and proud baby...GBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PUL4VOLS writes:

I look forward to seeing and hearing some incredible hits by the Tennessee Defense this year starting tomorrow night. I care not a straw if they be 4 stars, 3 moons, walkons, runons, fresh out of the frat houses. I just want to see them play mean and with heart. Looks like I will get my wish from Daniel McCullers. He obviously has no love he has lost for NC State. GO BIG ORANGE!

ICECOLDVOL writes:

Anyone going to the fla game in a few weeks? I have an idea.

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