New Vols impressive

I got my first look at new Vol football players Albert Toeaina, Jesse Mahelona and Antonio Reynolds yesterday, and I must say I was impressed. All three were introduced to the local media at an informal gathering in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex.

Toeaina is the biggest guy I've ever seen in my 30 years covering UT football. He told me he's packing 365 pounds on a 6-5 frame, yet there is very little body fat on him. This guy is simply huge! I thought Cody Douglas (who reported at 350 pounds a couple of years ago) was the biggest guy I'd ever seen but Toeaina looks way bigger.

Albert is more than big, though. He's also strong ... VERY strong.

''When I left junior college, I benched 535,'' he said.

Toeaina (pronounced Toe-EE-na) is the odds-on favorite for the right tackle job recently vacated by Sean Young (whose appeal for an extra year of eligibility was denied earlier this week).

Asked if he feels good about his chances of starting, Albert deadpanned: ''Yes, I do.''

Whereas Toeaina was bigger than I expected, Mahelona was a little smaller. He's listed at 6-2 and 295 but I suspect he's closer to 6-0. Maybe he just looked small standing next to Toeaina. Regardless, Jesse's a fireplug type with a low center of gravity who should be tough against the run.

''Definitely, run-stopping would be a great plus,'' Mahelona told me. ''My pass-rushing would need some work.''

Reynolds said UT is moving him from linebacker to defensive end. He played DE his first two years of high school ball, but played exclusively linebacker his last two prep seasons and both seasons at Hargrave Military Academy. He's listed at 6-3 and 233 but looks more like 6-5 and 225.

Asked if he can put on the weight he'll need to be a defensive end, Reynolds nodded.

''Oh, yeah,'' he said. ''With all of the conditioning we do ... and all the eating.''

Smiling broadly, he added: ''I don't miss no meals.''


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