Sears bound for stardom

He wasn't as ballyhooed as Mike Munoz, Sean Young, Jason Respert, Brandon Jefferies, Heath Benedict and Eric Young. But Arron Sears may turn out to be a better offensive lineman than any of them.

Sears, a 6-4, 315-pound sophomore from Russellville, Ala., is the glue that has held Tennessee's O-line together this season. He started Games 1-4 at right tackle. After missing Game 5 due to injury, he filled in for Cody Douglas by starting Games 6 and 7 at right guard. Then, with Munoz hurting, Sears started Game 8 at left tackle. No matter where he has played, he has play very, very well.

''It's unbelievable,'' head coach Phil Fulmer said. ''What Arron Sears has done in fighting through ankle, foot and toe injuries has been just short of incredible.

''He has physical toughness, mental toughness, he's smart. He's played right tackle as a starter, right guard as a starter, left tackle as a starter. He went in for Michael at halftime against Georgia and we never missed a beat.

''He's one of the best I've been around, and he's only a sophomore. That's the best thing about it.''

Asked if Sears might be even more productive if he could play one position all the time, Fulmer shook his head.

''That, to me, doesn't matter,'' the head man said. ''Bruce Wilkerson played all the positions for me except center. Wherever their (opponent's) best player was, that's where Bruce played that week.''

While position changes haven't slowed Sears' development, nagging injuries probably have.

''If Arron were healthy,'' Fulmer said, ''he would be a very dominant player.''

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