Fulmer awaits eligibility news

Vol football coach Phillip Fulmer hopes for good news on the academic front in the next few days regarding one of UT's top offensive linemen.

Anthony Herrera, a fifth-year senior, is still completing summer school work that could make him eligible for the 2003 season. Herrera was a partial qualifier in 1999 who had to sit out his freshman season. If he can graduate within four years he will regain the lost year of eligibility. Herrera is not participating in practice this week.

''I think he could probably be out here practicing right now,'' Fulmer said. ''I think they told him to go take care of his academic business but I'm not sure of that. My focus is for him to get what he needs to get done, and I believe he will.''

Herrera is primarily a guard but he also has played tackle and center. This versatility makes him especially valuable to a line that did not perform up to expectations last fall.

''The first thing we've got to do is establish some offensive guards who are going to knock some people off the ball,'' Fulmer said. ''We're playing more people that are 315, 320 pounds inside, so we've got to be more physical at that position. Whoever does that (plays physical football) will be the starters. There is no starter right now at guard. It could be Anthony, it could be (Jason) Respert, it could Chavis Smith, it could be Cody Douglas.''

Fulmer likes what he has seen of Tennessee's blocking front in early workouts. He has been plesantly surprised by the work of a pair of freshman offensive linemen.

''I'm awful impressed with those two young offensive linemen, Arron Sears and Eric Young,'' he said. ''They really jump out at you.''

• Defensive lineman Tony McDaniel, a freshman from Columbia, S.C., has petitioned the NCAA for special consideration after barely missing the requirements for immediate eligibility.

''We're waiting on a waiver-type thing on Tony McDaniel,'' Fumer said. ''He's a partial qualifier right now but he's four one-thousandths of a point from being a full qualifier. We feel like the NCAA will work with us on that. He has a 2.5-something (grade point average), so we're hopeful.''

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