Just call him 'Sackman' Simon

If the NCAA should honor a ''Comeback Player of the Year'' in college football, Tennessee's Kevin Simon would have to be the early favorite.

Simon, who missed the last nine games of the 2002 season with a broken ankle, has been little short of spectacular in his first two games of 2003. He led Tennessee with 10 tackles in the opener vs. Fresno State, then muffled Marshall with three second-quarter sacks in Game 2.

At 5-11 and 225 pounds, Simon seems an unlikely candidate to emerge as the Vols' premier pass rusher ... but he is.

''That was something he and I sat down and discussed in the offseason,'' defensive coordinator John Chavis said. ''It's a great example of him listening. Last year we lost a tremendous amount of our pass rush when we lost Kevin Burnett (to a Game 1 ACL tear), so one of the things Kevin Simon and I talked about was that he needed to be a more explosive blitzer ... that he needed to really improve in that area.

''We've drilled it and worked it as much as we possibly can. Some of it (blitzing) has to be natural (ability) but I think he took it to heart. He told me he'd show me he could be that type of player, and he's starting to get there.''

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