Second place is not acceptable

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It's not a tool that shows up in combines or on stat sheets.

The simple desire to win and be the best comes from inside and is rarely considered or graded by analysts with nothing to go by other than highlight tapes and phone conversations.

Gauging that competitive spirit is one reason coaches place precedence on getting college-hopeful prospects to campus for workouts.

Since seeing that passion on display at their own camp back in July, the Tennessee coaching staff has hunted Dalton Santos as though he's the last middle linebacker on earth.

That unteachable tool was on display for those present to see at the American Family Insurance Skills Challenge on an unseasonably cool Tuesday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with Santos competing in the obstacle course versus three other Under Armour All-Americans.

After his three opponents — Joe Bolden, Peter Jinkens and Randy Johnson — made their way through the course, Santos got his chance and appeared to have logged a winning time. However, a clock malfunction meant that effort had to be forfeited and the Van, Texas, standout had to give it a second run.

Santos (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) wasn't pleased but caught his breath and gave it another go. His official time of 28.84 seconds left him looking up at the much-smaller Johnson (5-9, 174), who clocked a 28.21.

The victor didn't receive a signing bonus, a shiny Corvette or a stack of cash, but the Tennessee-bound linebacker nevertheless didn't take the loss lightly and voiced his displeasure with famiy members.

That will to win is what makes the difference in the final quarter. When the four fingers go up, those types crank it up.

In regards to the recruiting battle to retain his services, Santos isn't going on the record this week about his future plans in light of Tennessee losing both defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon to Washington. The four-star that pledged to UT back in early August is in wait-and-see mode with their replacements.

In further Skills Challenge competition, Jordan Jenkins edged Noah Spence to win the lineman challenge. Sterling Shepard hustled his way to first place in the hands competition in front of Landon Collins. Jameis Winston topped the five-man quarterback challenge.


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