Vols face weighty issue

They call it ''Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul'' ... drawing from an area of surplus to upgrade an area of need.

That's essentially what Vol football coach Phillip Fulmer did over the weekend, drawing Cory Anderson and J.T. Mapu from an area of surplus (defensive end) to upgrade the depth at an area of severe need (tackle).

The loss of last fall's top three defensive tackles -- along with the transfer of Andre Taylor, the academic ineligibility of LaRon Harris and the six-to-eight week loss of Justin Harrell due to a fractured ankle -- has combined to leave UT in real peril at the tackle spot.

Mapu played a few snaps at tackle during his first year on campus, so he's more familiar with the position than Anderson, who split time between linebacker and defensive end in his first year on campus.

''J.T. obviously is a little ahead of Cory because he's been in there,'' Fulmer said following Monday's morning workout. ''Cory is capable but he needs to really get with the program. He's got time to earn playing time.''

While both Mapu and Anderson are talented enough to play tackle, you wonder if they're BIG enough to play tackle. Mapu is listed at 6-3 and 265, Anderson at 6-2 and 240. Compare that to recent Vol tackles John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth, both in 6-6, 310-pound range.

Fulmer shrugged at the suggestion that Mapu and Anderson might be undersized, however.

''We've played with big guys and we've played with little guys,'' Fulmer said. ''We won a national championship (1998) with Jeff Coleman playing tackle half the time.''

Coleman was around 6-3 and 250 pounds, about the same size and Mapu and Anderson.

''If they'll get in there and use their technique and quickness, they're plenty big enough,'' Fulmer said. ''They've got to keep their pads down or they'll get some rides they don't have to pay for.''

The ''rides'' he referred to, of course, are the kind a defender gets when a blocker gets under him, lifts him off the ground and drives him several yards backwards.


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