More water, less junk food for McCullers

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Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space.

Knowing that, Daniel McCullers is a whole lot of matter. And, his 6-foot-6, 360-pound frame matters quite a bit at the interior of the Tennessee defensive line.

When he signed with the Volunteers in February, he knew his role would be to occupy multiple blockers so the second level of the Tennessee defense could run free and make plays.

"(Someone with his size) is really essential when you are running the 3-4 and they are trying to hammer the ball," coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "I think he has shown improvement every day and I mean that. That's not just coach speak, he really has.

"Every day we say you have to do better at this or do better at that, and he is conscientious and works at it. He shows that he's trying. He's got a great attitude, demeanor and is really a humble guy. If he just continues this pace, he is going to be a good, solid player for us."

The Georgia Military Academy product says he is ready to fulfill that role and help the Big Orange rack up some victories.

"We're going to do our thing this year. We're ready," McCullers said.

In order for him to get ready for this fall and be as productive as he hopes, McCullers had to work to drop his weight to 360, which is 22 pounds lighter than when he first arrived this summer.

Redshirt junior Daniel Hood has noticed the change in McCullers, who took a quantum leap from being on the scout team to first string in just weeks of training camp.

"He's gotten a lot better," Hood said. "I think he's dropped like 15-20 pounds. He's gotten a lot faster. He's starting to learn the work ethic that we work with here, and it's helped him a lot. I mean he's still working hard, but t's incredible to see how far he's come."

The new-and-improved nose guard should be able to log a minimum of 30 plays in this Friday's season opener against North Carolina State in Atlanta.

McCullers' backup is Hood, who is relishing the opportunity to attack opposing linemen who have been worn down by the "Shade Tree."

"It's going to help me a lot too because during the game we'll be able to rotate more and stay fresh all game," Hood told InsideTennessee. "Then, they'll get used to having to pound him all game and I'll come in and be able to move around a little bit faster than he would. So, it will be a good change-up to throw in there."

Although he grew up just miles from the N.C. State campus, McCullers says he was raised a fan of North Carolina. The Wolfpack offered him a scholarship but as an offensive lineman, which wasn't what he had in mind as a college football player.

"I wasn't having that. That ain't my thing," he said.

McCullers talks about his love for hitting people, sacking the quarterback and other items in the video interview from InsideTennessee below:

See what else Hood had to say about the Volunteers and the season ahead in the video below:

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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