Vol safety LaDarrell McNeil admits struggle, 'settling in'

Troy quarterback Deon Anthony (7) drives past Tennessee defensive back LaDarrell McNeil (33) for a touchdown during the first half of their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)

Troy quarterback Deon Anthony (7) drives past Tennessee defensive back LaDarrell McNeil (33) for a touchdown during the first half of their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)

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.''

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Comments » 34

6972 writes:

Hope the young maintains a good attitude and developes into a great football player.

JDX47 writes:

Well thank goodness he is settling in, I guess that is obvious as clearly nobody is having success throwing over the top of us.

Colts_VolFan writes:

Hang in there man. Hopefully help will be here soon.

BrassMonkey writes:

Did anyone see Bryce Brown tear it up in the NFL last night? Too bad Dooley thought he did not have SEC talent. Another big miss by this joker. Then we can talk about all the other 4 and 5 start talent he ran off and wonder why we cannot compete against teams in our conference.

Ironcity writes:

This stuff isn't rocket science and if it is then shame on the coaches. Their are basic principles in every defense that are really based on common sense. The problem I see is that no common sense is used by the players when playing this. Its all really forced. Nobody plays with reckless abandon and when they do they are taken out (Jaque Smith). The fact of the matter is I don't think the players understand why they are doing what they are doing thus they do it just to do it. Watch our linebackers drop when their is a pass. They go to a spot on the field and stand their. They don't even attempt to cover anyone in their area. watch our DBs they do the same thing when not playing man. No one attempts to make a play they just want to make sure their where they are suppose to be (according to I guess the chalk board). Its no wonder every time a team runs a crossing pattern our whole defense looks flat footed. Some people can play and some people can teach. Right now we have coaches that could probably do it but don't seem to be able to teach it. I am so ready for a change.

Ironcity writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

Did anyone see Bryce Brown tear it up in the NFL last night? Too bad Dooley thought he did not have SEC talent. Another big miss by this joker. Then we can talk about all the other 4 and 5 start talent he ran off and wonder why we cannot compete against teams in our conference.

I would love to blame this one on Dooley but the kid (and rightly so)did not want to play for Dooley and stay in Ktown. Bigger issue was and still is we have been unable to recruit any top line backs over the last 4 recruiting cycles (at the same time UA has brought in 8 studs).

volinlm writes:

in response to JDX47:

Well thank goodness he is settling in, I guess that is obvious as clearly nobody is having success throwing over the top of us.

Give the kid a break. He's young. Did you have 85 to 100,000 people watching you screw up on Saturdays when you were 18? He may not make it, but we'll see.

TheStupidPolice writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I would love to blame this one on Dooley but the kid (and rightly so)did not want to play for Dooley and stay in Ktown. Bigger issue was and still is we have been unable to recruit any top line backs over the last 4 recruiting cycles (at the same time UA has brought in 8 studs).

Have you seen AJ Johnson play? He's the LB that was Freshman All-American last year and leads the SEC in tackles. He's the guy who is 6th in the entire nation in tackles and had 21 against Miss. St. And then there's Curt Maggitt who Phil Steele named to his Freshman All-American 3rd Team.

MajorD writes:

BrassMonkey, Brown had 49 yards Vick had more. He couldn't make it at Tennessee and he couldn't make it at Kansas State. I wish him well with the Eagles.

Smokey_VA writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

Did anyone see Bryce Brown tear it up in the NFL last night? Too bad Dooley thought he did not have SEC talent. Another big miss by this joker. Then we can talk about all the other 4 and 5 start talent he ran off and wonder why we cannot compete against teams in our conference.

Dooley never thought that Bryce Brown was not a good back. Dooley just knew that his attiude sucked. Hint, if Bryce was that great he would have played the rest of his career at K-State with Bill Snider, but he was benched because Bill saw the samething that Dooley saw.

And the other 4 and 5 stars tha he ran off were Da. Roders, J. Jackson, and D. Oku. not really the best for UT with their on and off the field issues.

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

Did anyone see Bryce Brown tear it up in the NFL last night? Too bad Dooley thought he did not have SEC talent. Another big miss by this joker. Then we can talk about all the other 4 and 5 start talent he ran off and wonder why we cannot compete against teams in our conference.

He did have a nice run, but that hardly qualifies as tearing it up. Time will tell how his NFL career turns out. He certainly has the talent, but he was an entitled, prima donna pain in the rear end after CLK left (probably still is). If you recall, he did absolutely nothing at K State and was eventually off that team, as well.

You can blame Dooley for a lot of things, but Brown leaving UT isn't one of them.

luke255#536431 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Colts_VolFan writes:

in response to luke255#536431:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Man. How cool would that be.

JDX47 writes:

in response to volinlm:

Give the kid a break. He's young. Did you have 85 to 100,000 people watching you screw up on Saturdays when you were 18? He may not make it, but we'll see.

I will concede to your point that he should be given a break (and no I wasn't being scrutenized by 100K people). Truly, I am sure it is difficult on a person fresh in the program cause this Defensive scheme has wreaked havoc on some seasoned vets.

signalcorps writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I would love to blame this one on Dooley but the kid (and rightly so)did not want to play for Dooley and stay in Ktown. Bigger issue was and still is we have been unable to recruit any top line backs over the last 4 recruiting cycles (at the same time UA has brought in 8 studs).

yep

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

No need to bash McNeil or Gray; as freshman they are doing the best they can..But I find it impossible to say anything positive about the rest of this sorry secondary!! Last week the only positive I saw was Toney made a few nice plays

Rumblefish writes:

There has RARELY been safety help on down the field throws. And this is due to an alignment issue...not speed, playmakers, etc.

Example, 3rd and 26 (goal) at S.Car. 1 Deep called. Really coach Sal???? And this is just one example. Almost all last week against Troy, there was 3rd and long...and we lined up 1 deep almost every time. What's the Safety to do???--teleport to the other side of the field after the QB has successfully looked our safety off to 1 side of the field already?

GerryOP writes:

LaDarrell, welcome to Big Orange Country. You are one of our future stars and it looks like the coaching staff is "getting your feet wet" early. It has to be a major adjustment moving from HS ball to the SEC, but you have the talent ... just do it! Thanks for being a Vol!

It's great... to be... a Tennessee Vol!

Ironcity writes:

in response to TheStupidPolice:

Have you seen AJ Johnson play? He's the LB that was Freshman All-American last year and leads the SEC in tackles. He's the guy who is 6th in the entire nation in tackles and had 21 against Miss. St. And then there's Curt Maggitt who Phil Steele named to his Freshman All-American 3rd Team.

I have watch AJ and I love his grit however watch the tape, AJ hasn't covered anyone. So we both know he is talented but somehow he can't seem to make any plays in the passing game. With the way he breaks on the ball you would think he would be crushing receivers across the middle and backs out of the backfield, yet most of his tackles are him running the guy down from behind after about a 20 yard game. THATS COACHING!! How can a stud be neutered that way? The only person that probably can answer that would be coach Sal. AJ has a lot of tackles but leading the worst defense in tackles doesn't mean your playing great or being coached up.

Rumblefish writes:

in response to GerryOP:

LaDarrell, welcome to Big Orange Country. You are one of our future stars and it looks like the coaching staff is "getting your feet wet" early. It has to be a major adjustment moving from HS ball to the SEC, but you have the talent ... just do it! Thanks for being a Vol!

It's great... to be... a Tennessee Vol!

He's shown some good instinct...and I think Safety is one of the most "instinctual" positions on the field. Yes, there is a ton to learn...but I think he is going to do good things next year (knocking on wood).

Also, I'm not sure why many press/posters are not commenting on how much of a better runner Lane is than Neal. Dude hits the hole harder, jukes better, get's the extra 1-2 yds after the 1st down. You see that too Gerry?

GerryOP writes:

What a classless bunch of low-life louts. Here is an article about one of our up and coming future stars and all most of you want to do is bash our Vols and the coaching staff. You clowns are absolute trash and thanks to the i'net we don't have to wonder about your character, you come on here and prove you are absolutely classless ... or worse.

VolGrad writes:

LaDarrell McNeil is a good guy and a better football player. Right now, it is still mostly potential as he is learning this new defense - completely new to him.

"I never came from a system like this. But I'm glad I came to a system like this cause it's making me stronger and making me better."

He admits to it being overwhelming at first, but feels he has made big strides in his knowledge of the system and the game.

"When I first came in, I thought, I would never get this. I thought that this defense is just too hard for me; I would never get it. But coach Sal, Ansley and Conklin..., they've improved my knowledge of the game."

"I feel like I still need to work on my coverages and open field tackling" at this point.

Third video from the top: http://www.utsports.com/sports/m-foot...

GerryOP writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

He's shown some good instinct...and I think Safety is one of the most "instinctual" positions on the field. Yes, there is a ton to learn...but I think he is going to do good things next year (knocking on wood).

Also, I'm not sure why many press/posters are not commenting on how much of a better runner Lane is than Neal. Dude hits the hole harder, jukes better, get's the extra 1-2 yds after the 1st down. You see that too Gerry?

They both have thier days and some days are better than others. But, they both are certainly assets to our Vol football team.

But, back on topic, what do you think about McNeil. Both he and Gray have great futures and I'm glad they're both Vols!

Ironcity writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

No need to bash McNeil or Gray; as freshman they are doing the best they can..But I find it impossible to say anything positive about the rest of this sorry secondary!! Last week the only positive I saw was Toney made a few nice plays

Toney does seem to make plays. I think McNeal has a good future but he is likely going to have to learn another defense next year. I hope he can adjust. I really think our defense will be better if we can get the basic zone principles down. It should allow our guys to really start breaking to the ball and maybe even pick a few overthrows. The only issue is on 3rd and short its tough to stop in a zone.

1bigvolman writes:

in response to GerryOP:

What a classless bunch of low-life louts. Here is an article about one of our up and coming future stars and all most of you want to do is bash our Vols and the coaching staff. You clowns are absolute trash and thanks to the i'net we don't have to wonder about your character, you come on here and prove you are absolutely classless ... or worse.

I couldn't agree more! It is sickening to read the comments someof you make about a fresman, or anyone else who has chosen to wear the orange. Even the coaches, they may not be capable, but I'll guarantee it bothers all o them to lose more than it does any of you! GO VOLS!!!

terrytennessee writes:

in response to 1bigvolman:

I couldn't agree more! It is sickening to read the comments someof you make about a fresman, or anyone else who has chosen to wear the orange. Even the coaches, they may not be capable, but I'll guarantee it bothers all o them to lose more than it does any of you! GO VOLS!!!

Amen, & amen.
As a 64 year old who has loved following the Tennessee Volunteers since I was a small boy, I am frequently dismayed by some of the individuals who call themselves fans & spew venom at the coaches & the players. It is a guarantee that no one, & I mean NO ONE, likes the way this season has gone, but I am in favor of honoring Coach Dooley's contract as head coach, & seeing how the cards fall next season. I'm betting this team will surprise a lot of people, & I'll also bet that a lot of the arm chair coaches on this site won't have the common decency to admit their mistake if that does turn out to be the case.
If he does remain our coach, & if the team does not begin to kick some butt in the SEC, then at least the powers that be will have erred on the side of patience &, in my never to be humble opinion, of right.
Go Vols!

luke255#536431 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GerryOP writes:

in response to terrytennessee:

Amen, & amen.
As a 64 year old who has loved following the Tennessee Volunteers since I was a small boy, I am frequently dismayed by some of the individuals who call themselves fans & spew venom at the coaches & the players. It is a guarantee that no one, & I mean NO ONE, likes the way this season has gone, but I am in favor of honoring Coach Dooley's contract as head coach, & seeing how the cards fall next season. I'm betting this team will surprise a lot of people, & I'll also bet that a lot of the arm chair coaches on this site won't have the common decency to admit their mistake if that does turn out to be the case.
If he does remain our coach, & if the team does not begin to kick some butt in the SEC, then at least the powers that be will have erred on the side of patience &, in my never to be humble opinion, of right.
Go Vols!

and Amen...

GerryOP writes:

in response to luke255#536431:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"You agree not to post comments that are off topic,..."

Rumblefish writes:

in response to GerryOP:

They both have thier days and some days are better than others. But, they both are certainly assets to our Vol football team.

But, back on topic, what do you think about McNeil. Both he and Gray have great futures and I'm glad they're both Vols!

If McNeil adds some weight in the off-season...I see a Berry-Moreno colision coming next year with McNeil standing over whomever.

Still I say....Lane > Neal

GerryOP writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

If McNeil adds some weight in the off-season...I see a Berry-Moreno colision coming next year with McNeil standing over whomever.

Still I say....Lane > Neal

I'll give you Lane over Neal, but watch out for the Q-man ... Quenshaun Watson! He could be our next "beast" TB along with Devrin Young, as long as Young can stay healthy. Overall I think we're in pretty good shape at the TB position. Stacked 1, 2 or 3 deep in each class.

VolGrad writes:

I'll still take a healthy Neal. Dude was impressive before the injury.

Go Vols! Beat Mizzou!!!

Ironcity writes:

in response to terrytennessee:

Amen, & amen.
As a 64 year old who has loved following the Tennessee Volunteers since I was a small boy, I am frequently dismayed by some of the individuals who call themselves fans & spew venom at the coaches & the players. It is a guarantee that no one, & I mean NO ONE, likes the way this season has gone, but I am in favor of honoring Coach Dooley's contract as head coach, & seeing how the cards fall next season. I'm betting this team will surprise a lot of people, & I'll also bet that a lot of the arm chair coaches on this site won't have the common decency to admit their mistake if that does turn out to be the case.
If he does remain our coach, & if the team does not begin to kick some butt in the SEC, then at least the powers that be will have erred on the side of patience &, in my never to be humble opinion, of right.
Go Vols!

Terry the recruits have spoken. Our class is sinking like a rock. No one is going to the games anymore. Apathy has crept into everything that is football at UT. Now I understand the desire to give the man another year but one more year sets the program back 4 more years and gives the next coach virtually no chance of success. I look at this situation the same way I looked at Buzz Petersons. Buzz when he left said you couldn't win at UT and expectations were way beyond reality. Then in one year a coach came in and took the same players Buzz pretty much said stunk out loud and won the SEC east.

I didn't expect miracles from Coach Dooley but I did expect him to believe in his team which he doesn't. Additionally I am not going to feel sorry for him when he get a 5 million dollar kiss on the way out.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to terrytennessee:

Amen, & amen.
As a 64 year old who has loved following the Tennessee Volunteers since I was a small boy, I am frequently dismayed by some of the individuals who call themselves fans & spew venom at the coaches & the players. It is a guarantee that no one, & I mean NO ONE, likes the way this season has gone, but I am in favor of honoring Coach Dooley's contract as head coach, & seeing how the cards fall next season. I'm betting this team will surprise a lot of people, & I'll also bet that a lot of the arm chair coaches on this site won't have the common decency to admit their mistake if that does turn out to be the case.
If he does remain our coach, & if the team does not begin to kick some butt in the SEC, then at least the powers that be will have erred on the side of patience &, in my never to be humble opinion, of right.
Go Vols!

I agree with you Terry !

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