Energy level 'high' at practice, more notes

InsideTennessee keeps you on top of all the latest Vols spring practice news. Scroll down to read all the updates below and watch video interviews from several Vols.

Every time Corey Vereen takes the practice field, he thinks about his senior year of high school.

Vereen wasn't highly recruiting coming out of West Orange (Fla.) High School. He earned just eight scholarship offers, with Tennessee being the only SEC option.

It's a time Vereen calls "frustrating."

And it's a time he uses as motivation as he looks to become a more well-rounded defensive end this spring.

"Every day, every day I go out there I think about that. Or if I'm having a day where I'm not as motivated, I go back and look at that and think about how I felt at that time. All the anger and passion I felt," Vereen told InsideTennessee. "I just take that everyday and it drives me toward what I need to do out there. I want to prove those people wrong."

He's off to a good start.

The rising sophomore played in nine games last season after bouncing back from knee surgery had during summer camp.

Once healthy, Vereen made an immediate impact as a third down pass rusher. He totaled 13 tackles, including one sack and two quarterback hurries in limited snaps off the bench.

This spring, Vereen wants to stay on the field – no matter the down.

The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder was often exploited on running downs last season by getting too far up field.

Yes, there's such a thing as getting too much penetration in the backfield. Vereen knows this, and is focused on "the little things" to become a productive run stopper.

"I'm just looking at all the techniques of the run plays. And, you know, just studying more football," Vereen said.

Vereen said he wants to improve his hand placement, leverage and eye discipline this spring, adding that sound fundamentals are essential for an undersized defensive end to have success in stopping the run.

Tennessee needs Vereen to develop into that player, as the Vols replace all of their starters along the defensive line from last season.

Vereen acknowledges the challenges of starting fresh, but sees an upside in the returning group of defensive linemen.

"We can move more," Vereen said.

According for Vereen, what the Vols lack in size, they make up for with speed.

Tennessee doesn't have a defensive linemen (at least not one who will contribute this year) who weighs more than 300 pounds. The injured Trevarris Saulsberry tops the chart at 297.

To compensate, Vereen said defensive coordinator John Jancek has already started installing "way more" blitz and stunt packages that involve more movement and plays into the front's athleticism.

The changes make Vereen optimistic.

"I think we can do some big things," Vereen told IT.

But more than size, the Vols also graduated most of its leadership along the defensive line.

Vereen says a single player hasn't "stepped up" to head the group, but adds everyone "chips in."

Owen owns the weight room

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JUCO transfer and early enrollee Owen Williams hasn't had the luxury of weight lifting in state of the art facilities for long, but that apparently hasn't effected his strength levels.

Vereen said Williams is "clearly" the strongest defensive linemen on roster, adding that the 6-foot-2, 289-pounder can rep 455 pounds on the bench press and rattle off 655 pounds squats like "it's nothing."

Vereen said he's been impressed with Williams' eagerness to work and learn so far this spring, but hinted that Williams is a tad out of shape as far as conditioning goes.

Vereen also said Williams needs to work on his hip flexibility.

New wideouts impress Sutton

According to Cameron Sutton, the addition of Josh Malone and Von Pearson do more than help Tennessee's quarterbacks.

Sutton is eager to continue practicing against both wideouts, calling Pearson "shifty" and Malone "skilled."

"Just going up against their competitiveness in practice just makes it easier in games," Sutton said.

Sutton lost a one-on-one battle against Pearson early in practice Saturday. The JUCO transfer head faked inside and then cut to the back corner of the end zone to out jump Sutton for the score.

Sutton added that he's focused on improving his physicality this spring.

Discuss Tennessee's second spring practice with InsideTennessee staff and subscribers by clicking here.

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Corey Vereen video interview

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