'Superman' Simon

When you see the bulging biceps and upper body of Vol linebacker Kevin Simon, you also expect to see a large ''S'' (a la Superman) on his chest. Then, when you see how rapidly he's recovering from last season's ACL surgery, you figure he must be the Man of Steel ... even if you're Tennessee's defensive coordinator.

''Kevin Simon is way ahead of where the normal guy would be following the surgery he had,'' John Chavis said, clearly amazed by Simon's resilience.

Simon seems a little surprised, too.

''I'm stronger than I've ever been right now,'' he said, smiling softly. ''I'm benching 465 pounds. I took advantage of this offseason, hit it hard in the weight room and it paid off.''

Although Simon is benching more weight, he still isn't CARRYING more weight. He'd like to bulk up by a few pounds between now and September, so he'll be ready for the rigors of playing middle linebacker in the Southeastern Conference.

''I'm 228 pounds, so I'm still pretty light,'' he said. ''I'd like to weigh between 235 and 238. Playing in the middle, it'll help me to have some extra weight, but I've got five months between now and August to get that done. That's plenty of time to put on six or eight pounds of muscle.''

Despite his rapid recovery, Simon is limited to non-contact work this spring. Although he'd love to lay a few licks, he's willing to follow doctor's orders in this instance.

''My surgeon just said absolutely no contact,'' he said. ''He said, 'We don't want you hitting, don't want to take a chance of the knee getting tangled up with other players.' ''

Simon had to overcome two previous knee surgeries and a broken ankle previously. Obviously, so he's an old hand when it comes to rehabilitation. What has he learned from the previous experiences that helped him this time?

''When my knee says 'No, not today,' I need to listen to it,'' he said. ''I need to tell the trainers or Coach Chavis when something bothers me knee. I just need to be smart about what I'm doing and the time I put it on the field.''

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