All's Wells with Vol O-line

Tennessee's offensive line is full of former high school All-Americans, yet the steadiest performer on the blocking wall is a guy who barely made all-state ... Scott Wells.

Heading into his final home appearance Saturday against Vanderbilt, Wells has started 46 consecutive games, dating to Game 3 of his redshirt freshman season. That's an amazing statistic.

''It says a lot about his toughness, his endurance, his maturity level,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said. ''When Fred Weary got hurt (forcing Wells into the lineup), he was a couple of weeks removed from being released following a very significant shoulder surgery. He'd had very little practice, yet he went in and held his own against Gerard Warren (Florida) and did a good job.''

Wells has been doing ''a good job'' ever since. He has been particularly effective during Tennessee's recent four-game winning streak.

''The last four or five ballgames that Scott's played have been his best games,'' Fulmer said. ''He had 12 knockdowns against Miami and eight this past week (vs. Mississippi State).''

A senior captain, Wells also contributes considerably to team chemistry with his upbeat personality and his unsurpassed dedication. A workout warrior, he's the strongest player on the team, bench-pressing more than 500 pounds.

''He's done a great job leading this football team,'' Fulmer said. ''His personality and toughness are reflected in the guys around him. They actually feed off of him.''

Oddly enough, Wells will play his final home game against the school (Vandy) that nearly signed the Spring Hill native away from Tennessee four years ago.

''He wanted to play defensive tackle really bad, and I think he saw an opportunity (with the Commodores) to play defensive tackle,'' Fulmer said. ''I was honest with him ... told him I felt like he would be an offensive lineman but that we would give him a chance to play defense. I don't think he's regretted the decision at all.''

Certainly, Fulmer hasn't regretted the decision to sign Wells, who was one of the least heralded members of UT's 1999 signing class.

''You cannot let that (notoriety) influence you,'' Fulmer said. ''If you're not careful, it will. Some of the five-star guys haven't worked out, and some of the no-star guys have been great players. Scott Wells not only played in a great program, but he had the wrestling background and he has great character, intelligence and work ethic. So, regardless, he was going to be a plus for your program.''

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