Maggitt willing to do 'whatever it takes'

InsideTennessee keeps you informed as the Vols hit the practice field this spring. Scroll down to read a notebook packed with all the latest news and notes.

On Tennessee's roster, Curt Maggitt is listed as a linebacker.

But putting one position next to Maggitt's name is far too restricting.

If Tuesday's practice is any indication, Tennessee coaches will be asking Maggitt to slide down to defensive end often in the approaching 2014 season.

Maggitt, who said earlier this spring that he's finally back at full strength after tearing his ACL in 2012 and sitting out all last season, spent the entire practice working with the defensive linemen.

He also played defensive end as the Vols walked through plays in their nickel formation, which features five defensive backs and two linebackers on the field.

Even Maggitt – never one to pat himself on the back – admits the term "playmaker" is perhaps a better way to describe his role with Team 118.

"I feel good," Maggitt said. "Whatever they want me to do, I'm down to do it."

While Maggitt said the adjustment has been "tough" at times, it's not completely new territory.

Maggitt saw double duty at defensive end and linebacker during his sophomore year and logged an impressive sack-fumble with his hand on the ground during Tennessee's season opener against North Carolina State.

"It hasn't been a real big adjustment since I had my hand down before," Maggitt told InsideTennessee. "Just got to get this work in."

Some work is needed. Maggitt admits there's a little rust and needs some time to get acclimated again.

The 6-foot-3, 244-pounder said he's focused on perfecting "the little things" – including his stance, hand placement and get off - during Tennessee's final nine spring practices.

"I've been getting extra film in with the coaches, you know," Maggitt told IT. "Just trying to correct the little mistakes and clean my game up."

Jones agrees that Maggitt is still adjusting and going through a "learning process," but adds that he's confident Maggitt will grow into "a force" with time.

"He knows his assignments. He knows what to do. But now it's putting it into action," Jones said. "…He'll come. He's extremity explosive. But it's the small details – it's the stance, it's the start. He'll get there."

Maggitt seeing more time at defensive end also helps shore up a depleted defensive front, as the Vols are tasked with replacing all of its starters from last season.

Jones has emphasized the importance of improving Tennessee's pass rush over and over this spring. Maggitt is optimistic the overhauled defensive line can "surprise" this fall with his help.

"I'm glad I'm down there with my dog (Corey) Vereen. It's going to be good," Maggitt told IT. "…It's a challenge, but I'm up for it."

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MALONE

Malone gaining momentum

Jones said the game has been moving fast for most of Tennessee's 14 early enrollees, but one newcomer has been an exception.

Jones said freshman wideout Josh Malone has recently been playing faster and with more confidence.

"He's coming of the football," Jones said of Malone "… You can see the speed burst and acceleration now that we saw when we were recruiting him."

Thomas showing signs

In front of the media and select onlookers, freshman offensive tackle Coleman Thomas had a tough first scrimmage serving as the Vols' starting right tackle.

But behind closed doors at practices, there's apparently been promising signs.

Maggitt said Thomas got him "pretty good" during a one-on-one blocking drill Tuesday.

Laughing, Maggitt said he "got him back" a few reps later.

Spring break blues?

According to players, a week of sun and relaxation during last week's spring break didn't lull Tennessee's tempo as the team returned to the practice field for the first time Tuesday.

In fact, Tennessee guard Marcus Jackson tabbed the practice the most "up beat" outing of the spring.

"We got after it today," Jackson said.

Maggitt agrees.

"We came out strong today," he said. "We have tough practices, if we didn't come out prepared we wouldn't survive."

But according to Jones, not all demonstrated the proper "mental toughness" after returning from break.

Jones said how his team returned to its football schedule following spring break would "speak volumes" about the team's maturity. He was pleased with some and not with others.

"Overall, I did like our mental approach," Jones said. "But there was a glaring difference between some individuals. … I thought it was a very productive practice, but we still have a long, long, long way to go."

Jones did say he thought Tuesday was the Vols' most physical practice to date.


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