Back in the mix

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Experience doesn't guarantee a starting spot anywhere in the Tennessee Volunteers starting football lineup, not anymore that is.

No one is learning that more than junior offensive lineman Zach Fulton with has started last 15 games at right guard, including all 12 games in 2011.

The 6-foot-5, 319-pounder suffered a stress facture in his foot just weeks before the Vols opened spring practice and now is battling with his long-time roommate and friend James Stone for a starting spot at right guard.

"Right now I am working with the ones and the twos," Fulton said Tuesday after his first day back. "Me and James (Stone) are fighting for a spot. I am pretty confident, but James and I are just fighting for a spot and I have no problem doing that."

When recalling the day that set him back, Fulton questioned the offseason training program of strength and conditioning Ron McKeeferey with a laugh.

"We were running six 300s that day," he said. "It was on the last 300 I heard a pop in my leg. I guess big men aren't really meant to run 1000 yards every day."

More than anything Fulton just missed sweating with his teammates during practice as they opened spring practice.

"It was really tough," Fulton said. "I was over there on the bike just wishing I could be out there with my guys. Knowing I couldn't go out there and grind with them was really tough for me."

Another offensive big man who is missing out on competition is JerQuari Schofield who is absent from spring ball due to academic struggles.

Watch below as Fulton addresses the media Tuesday following his first full-contact spring practice:

To get a look at Fulton (72) and the rest of the Vol offensive line at work on Tuesday, click play on the footage below:

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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