With four starts under his belt, Tennessee's freshman safety LaDarrell McNeil admitted it's been a struggle being thrown into the fire.
"I feel like some of the guys are kind of helping me through the process, guys that have already been through the process,'' McNeil said Tuesday in his first media appearance. "They're, I guess, guiding me through the way.
"I'm coming along and I'm settling in very good now.''
McNeil has been inserted as the last line of defense for a defensive unit that has given up yards and points at a school-record pace.
"It was very overwhelming because I never came from a system like this,'' he said. "But I'm glad I came to a system like this because it's making me stronger and making me better.''
"The most frustrating thing is when you feel like you've got everything down, you've got the play right, you've got everything good and you mess up.
"The coach yells at you but you've got to keep moving on.''
The Vols (4-5) move on Saturday to play host to Missouri at 12:21 p.m. at Neyland Stadium.
Head coach Derek Dooley understands the load McNeil has been asked to take on.
"One thing is the mental part and it certainly hasn't been easy on him,'' Dooley said. "Then the physical beat-down you go through as a freshman.
"And the emotional pressure you feel, because there's a lot of pressure on how much we're depending on him to hold up back there.
"It's hit LaDarrell for a couple of weeks but he's got a great attitude. He's got a big-time future. He's going to be a great football player, I believe that.''