Herman Lathers' leadership demands a higher rank

LB 'pushes forward' after missing 2011

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers signs an autograph for Danny Hutchins from Kingsport prior to the Orange and White Game at Neyland Stadium on April 21.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers signs an autograph for Danny Hutchins from Kingsport prior to the Orange and White Game at Neyland Stadium on April 21.

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Herman Lathers

Herman Lathers

Herman Lathers has advanced in rank since he last played a football game for Tennessee.

He was just a starting linebacker for the Vols when he broke his ankle before the 2011 season. Now, he's referred to as "general."

"The big general here," senior teammate Prentiss Waggner said as he looked Lathers' way while UT seniors were involved in a Habitat for Humanity project Saturday. "He demands everything.

"People are pretty much scared of him with all those muscles he has."

Waggner smiled at the thought, but he wasn't kidding about the leadership role Lathers has taken as the Vols prepare for the 2012 football season with hopes of improving on last year's 5-7 finish.

"Everybody has seen his work ethic," Waggner said. "He's had injuries, but he pushes forward.

"He'll still have a minor injury here and there, but you will never see him get out of a drill. He always finishes the drill."

UT coaches raved about Lathers this spring for the same reason. There was no hint of trepidation as he resumed contact for the first time since his injury. The whole team noticed, too.

Younger teammates learned something else about Lathers.

"A lot of those guys didn't know about the bone cancer (when Lathers was 15)," said senior offensive guard Dallas Thomas, who was a high school teammate of Lathers' in Baton Rouge, La. "They see that he's giving his all and really opening up to the team."

Illness and injury behind him, Lathers seems immersed in his team and the preparation for the upcoming season. His weight is up to 233 pounds after adding 15 pounds, which could serve him well as one of the middle men in UT's new 3-4 defensive alignment.

"A lot of guys lose weight during fall camp," he said. "If I could go into the season at 230 or 235, that would be pretty good."

He also has regained the speed he lost from his injury.

"The seven-on-seven drills that we do on our own (this summer) ... I was breaking on the ball better," he said. "I'm getting my quickness and first step back."

Lathers has seen more quickness elsewhere this summer.

"A.J. Johnson has gotten a lot quicker," Lathers said of his fellow inside linebacker. "I can tell you from watching him last year, he's a lot quicker in his reads, his first step, getting down field and in his decisions.

"I'm excited to play with those guys, A.J. and Curt Maggitt."

Johnson and Maggitt both started last season as freshmen. Johnson was the Vols' second-leading tackler, and Maggitt was fourth in tackles.

"We watch a lot of film and study the playbook together," Lathers said.

Lathers' summer studies have raised his comfort level in the new defensive scheme. And he's comfortable enough to think he can help the rest of his teammates on defense.

"He knows that playbook in and out," Waggner said. "And he's getting those young linebackers and down linemen in there looking at film."

That's another example of the greater role Lathers has assumed. He's taking leadership as seriously as his linebacking.

"Without leadership, we're going to have another season like last year," he said.

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 » 30

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

He has the making of the next legendary UT linebacker. Big, strong, fast and an exemplary leader!

Bigger_Al writes:

I saw him last year walking the sidelines in his jersey. Looked like a stud. Now he can take it to the field. Add Herman and advance AJ and Maggitt to their Soph. years, LB should be much better than last year.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Herman is a beast if he can stay healthy..GBO!!

RaineyVol writes:

he's a good player no doubt...

P.S. Everyone who has a twitter tweet @JR7_Eagles. Its Jalen Ramsey.. show him some love and make him pick the Vols tomorrow at 11am

laraccoon writes:

leadership is something this team has been without far to long , by no fault of the players . i think this team is still two years away if Dooley can continue to recruit well . Redshirting wont even start to show up till next year .

frblalack writes:

If...and that's a big if, the linebacking trio stays healthy, we WILL have the BEST linebackers in the SEC! And of course that does mean we will have the best linebackers in the country!!!

Curt Maggitt reminds me of Steve Kiner & A.J. is another Hacksaw Reynolds! Herman Lathers could be the next Frank Emanuel! We are GREAT at linebacker!!! Let's pray these guys stay healthy! If we develop any kind of running game, weeelll let's just say 10 wins are attainable...if you aim low.

Love my UT Vols!!! All Vols - All the Time!

VolGrad writes:

"Without leadership, we're going to have another season like last year," he said.

THAT is what I was waiting to hear from someone on our team. Now, hopefully, Herman can reproduce himself within another guy or two out there. Leadership by one's peers is what can transform a group of individuals into a single-minded unit and keep them focused during the difficult moments that happen in most every game. And quite frankly, a teammate can better hold you accountable than any coach can.

This is a potentially lethal group of starting linebackers. I just hope we can build some good quality depth behind them.

Go Vols!

blackoutcuffem1592 writes:

You've got to love and respect this guy. He's got the heart of a champion and if the Vols defense can take on the personality and mentality of Mr. Lathers, we should expect great things on that side of the ball this year

tennesseeduke writes:

Thought this was interesting and wasn't sure if the VOL fans had read this. It gives great optimism for this upcoming season.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/12...

GBO!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to tennesseeduke:

Thought this was interesting and wasn't sure if the VOL fans had read this. It gives great optimism for this upcoming season.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/12...

GBO!

Duke that is a very good read.For some reason I haven't been receiving Bleacher report this past month.
I Really believe this is going to be a great year for UT. I think that Dooley should be given a chance to play a year with his players that he had recruited and coached. I really like the coaching changes that took place this year. I think we now have true winners. The problem is that it is their first year as a group. I really hope that this year puts some ice on that hot seat . Dooley deserves the time he was promised. And Yes with a little luck against AL and GA I think we could play for the National Championship.

AllVol1 writes:

Always happy to see a player come back from an injury to play again. Really impressed when that player can come back with the same or even more fire. Thrilled when that player comes back as a peer-recognized leader. That is what I read about Mr. Lathers. Very much looking forward to that Lathers-Maggitt-Johnson trio. Bruising, big, smart LB's. I hope these three stay healthy and shine this year. Go Vols!

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

HL is all heart and class and I just oove that guy.

He's earning the respect of everyone around him.

I hope many other guys take on the same work ethic and leadership roles he's showing them they badly need.

I wish HL all the best in school, on the field and for the rest of his life.

He's a true Vol for Life.

God bless HL.

VFL...GBO!!!

luvmatersoup writes:

This guy is going to be one heck of a beast!!! I love his work ethics. I also love the fact that the Vols are working with Habitat for Humanity but get nervous about folks getting hurt. I sure hope that we are helping to hand out food instead of building houses. Anyway, it's a great cause and Herman is a true monster. Just look at the guys fact in the picute above. Herman is simply signing the guys shirt but the dude looks like he is getting ready to have his head ripped off! Go Vols and here's to staying healthy!!!!

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to luvmatersoup:

This guy is going to be one heck of a beast!!! I love his work ethics. I also love the fact that the Vols are working with Habitat for Humanity but get nervous about folks getting hurt. I sure hope that we are helping to hand out food instead of building houses. Anyway, it's a great cause and Herman is a true monster. Just look at the guys fact in the picute above. Herman is simply signing the guys shirt but the dude looks like he is getting ready to have his head ripped off! Go Vols and here's to staying healthy!!!!

Sorry folks, I re-read my post above and I should have said FACE, not fact....The dude in the picture above looks like Herman is getting ready to rip his head off!!!! At first I thought the guy was a whimp but then started thinking I'd probably look the same way too and knowing me, mess my drawrs also!!!!

Pompey writes:

.....will Bray live up to his potential as the best QB in the SEC...will the receivers live up to their potential as among/or the best in the country....will the LB's as a group be the best in the SEC....a lot to look forward to!

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to Pompey:

.....will Bray live up to his potential as the best QB in the SEC...will the receivers live up to their potential as among/or the best in the country....will the LB's as a group be the best in the SEC....a lot to look forward to!

Totally agree with you Pompey! My big question that's been weighing on my mind is how is our kicking game going to be? I've read many articles and do believe exactly what you are saying but I haven't heard a think about our punter or field goal kicker? With us going to be so much improved this year, I really think a lot of games will come down to a field goal. Last year our kicking game kind of stunk but that was OK as I don't recall us being in too many tight games. Hopefully this year, we've got someone that kick it through the pipes! Go Vols!!!!!

MemphisVOLALum writes:

I like all true VOL fans am optimistic about this football season. However, we must be realistic in out hopes for this team. We have been out musceled on the line for several years and been out recruited as well. Those two items take multiple years to correct. I'm not giving a thumbs up or down to Coach Dooley. I'm just stating the obvious. By all means VOL fans, get excited about this season. Just do so without the 10 win or Nat'l Championship talk. A winning record and a good bowl is a step in the right direction. I'd love to see 10 wins, I hope the VOLS achieve it. If they don't it can still be a successful season.

jrobi124 writes:

Herman is a real man with courage and if anybody deserves success its him lets all pray he stays healthy not for the success of our team but for a great man. "God protect this warrior throughout his career,Amen".

PUL4VOLS writes:

I want to see this guy take out his beyond a tough injury frustration on opposition offenses. I also want to see him show the younger guys the way to play. Finally, I have no idea how many wins we get. It looks as if 8 is possible. At first if we just invert last year's, we are doing well. All the naysayers who think if we don't get 9 or 10 Dooley's toast have not been paying attention. The team should be very good and barring MAJOR injuries as we had last year, we will be feeling much better come late fall this year. GO BIG ORANGE!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Agreeing with all your comments. Very positive IMO. The team is positive and the fans need to be also.........and away we go !

Go Vols

bigorangebolt writes:

Herman Lathers is an all around stud! I am glad to see him lead and stay healthy young man!
Our linebackers should rock and roll this year!
Go Big Orange!

http://Craigster.myvi.net

Navaloranges writes:

Probably the first since Big Al to have the potential to really make a difference in the leadership role, along with having the skills to back it up on the field. This guy is the real deal and can be a game changer on the field. I believe our defense will beat their number 28 ranking from last year.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to VolGrad:

"Without leadership, we're going to have another season like last year," he said.

THAT is what I was waiting to hear from someone on our team. Now, hopefully, Herman can reproduce himself within another guy or two out there. Leadership by one's peers is what can transform a group of individuals into a single-minded unit and keep them focused during the difficult moments that happen in most every game. And quite frankly, a teammate can better hold you accountable than any coach can.

This is a potentially lethal group of starting linebackers. I just hope we can build some good quality depth behind them.

Go Vols!

Leadership too me is always the difference....one only has to look at our country and national government and see that...without a doubt...worst leadership we have experienced in our nation in its existence and look where we are...same applies on the football field....leadership ALWAYS wins out...for reference...SEE WORLD WAR TWO ERA...

rockypop writes:

in response to RaineyVol:

he's a good player no doubt...

P.S. Everyone who has a twitter tweet @JR7_Eagles. Its Jalen Ramsey.. show him some love and make him pick the Vols tomorrow at 11am

Don't waste your time. Unless you want to congratulate him for signing w/USC.

TommyJack writes:

Looking forward to huge year from this guy.

pingkr62 writes:

Love the leadership, now for some chemistry. One of either is good, both together are great. If we can stay healthy, This could be a VERY special team. G.B.O.!!!

Harrit writes:

Is it just me or is anyone else on here sick of seeing the top rated hs player from Tenn end up in Southern California? First Patrick Turner, and now Jalen Ramsey?

crimsonviper writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Looking forward to huge year from this guy.

Me too,bud....He has done his part in the classroom,now I hope the football gods smile on him and let him have a healthy year.

pingkr62 writes:

in response to Harrit:

Is it just me or is anyone else on here sick of seeing the top rated hs player from Tenn end up in Southern California? First Patrick Turner, and now Jalen Ramsey?

This situation will soon be coming to an end. Give the current staff enough time, and these players will be begging for a chance to play for the Vols.

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to Harrit:

Is it just me or is anyone else on here sick of seeing the top rated hs player from Tenn end up in Southern California? First Patrick Turner, and now Jalen Ramsey?

Loosing top talent makes me sick, but hats off to a coaching staff that can recruit following a loosing season. We lost JR but have scored high with some other recruits.

We loose top talent partly because hs kids are attracted to traveling to far away places, but mostly because we are not nationally ranked in the top 25.

Every player wants to win. Hs kids want their parents to watch them win games, not just play. And 4-5 star players can choose which school to play for from dozens of college offers.

My left-handed comment: We start winning football games, we keep top in-state talent.

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