Hefney: 'I'm big enough'

He's fast enough to play safety. He's tough enough to play safety. He's agile enough to play safety. He's physical enough to play safety.

Still, the question persists: Is 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jonathan Hefney BIG enough to play safety?

Tennessee's coaches obviously think so. That's why Hefney will start Saturday's opener against Alabama-Birmingham at free safety. Not surprisingly, Hefney thinks he's big enough, too.

"I think I'm big enough simply because I can tackle pretty good," he said. "And I'm not scared."

Because his position involves a tremendous amount of run support, Hefney routinely finds himself butting heads with 230-pound running backs. A 180-pounder would have to be somewhat insane to find that prospect appealing but, apparently, Hefney's somewhat insane.

"I'm kinda' crazy, so I like running up in there and trying to make something happen," he said, grinning broadly. "Being crazy helps at safety. You should be fearless. You shouldn't be scared of nothing, except maybe running into your own man and messing up a play."

Hefney's size was never an issue last fall, when he started for most of the season at cornerback and earned Freshman All-America honors. He believes he'll be just as successful at safety.

"The transition's been pretty good," he said. "I've been watching a lot of film, and I think I can go out there and do pretty good. If I don't worry that will help me out."

Upbeat and outgoing, Hefney's bubbly enthusiasm never seems to wane … even when he hears people call the secondary the "weak link" of Tennessee's 2005 defense. He views such talk as incentive, rather than insult.

"I just want to prove everybody wrong because they've been talking about us since last year," he said. "We're going to play with our hearts, and I think everything's going to come out pretty good."

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