Marlon Walls quickly became a big fan of Tennessee's new 3-4 defense. He's also learning to like the new player who sometimes could be lined up next to him.
Daniel McCullers, a junior college transfer from Georgia Military Academy, is one of UT's most intriguing signees for obvious reasons. He's 6-foot-6, 377 pounds, and according to those who have seen him, looks every bit of it.
"He's going to surprise you," Walls said. "He's not a big, lazy guy. He gives effort. That big guy can move.
"He's very strong. His first time in the weight room, he went in there and threw up about 440 (pounds in the bench press)."
McCullers still has to prove he can make the adjustment from junior college to major college football. But his teammates have to make an adjustment, too, in the 3-4 alignment.
That's nothing new for Walls, who was an all-state linebacker in Olive Branch, Miss., and has played both tackle and end on UT's defensive front.
"I'm very comfortable," he said. "I think I've changed so much, I'm used to change. If I don't change, I'm thinking, 'What's going on?' "
He has embraced his
and sounds grateful to new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri for placing him in a position where he can make plays. He also likes the flexibility involved in his position.
"I'm a straight defensive end or I can slide inside sometimes," he said. "So sometimes, I'm going against guards. It's a big challenge.
"The guys did a great job of teaching me the position. Going into the fall, I'm really comfortable with my position on the field."
The defense isn't all that's new, according to Walls, who, like so many of his teammates, has touted the team's improved togetherness, leadership and work ethic this offseason.
"I think we have guys who are committed," he said. "A bunch of 'no-names' as coach Sal says. Guys like that are going to work for you all the time.
"Our work ethic has changed. We're really going after things this year."
John Adams is a senior columnist. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns