O-line will be fine

Head football coach Phil Fulmer may need a numerical roster to identify Tennessee's offensive linemen when spring practice commences March 2. Gone are three full-time starters from last fall (Cody Douglas, Albert Toeaina, Rob Smith), a part-time starter (Richie Gandy) and a coach (Jimmy Ray Stephens).

The Vols have just one full-time starter returning, but he's convinced the blocking front will be excellent.

"Man, the sky's the limit for Eric Young, Anthony Parker and Ramon Foster," tackle Arron Sears said recently, reeling off the names of three talented but unproven blockers.

The chance to tutor this trio is one of the reasons Sears chose to return for his senior season rather than declare for the NFL Draft.

"I think I've got a big part in helping these guys," he said. "The older guys helped me when I came in, and I owe something back to the young guys that are here now."

Tennessee's offense was terribly unproductive in 2005, prompting the resignation of offensive coordinator Randy Sanders and the firings of Stephens and receivers coach Pat Washington. Sears is confident the attack unit will be vastly improved under new coordinator David Cutcliffe in 2006.

"The sky's the limit on that, too," Sears said. "Last year we didn't play too great on offense. That ain't no secret around the Southeastern Conference or around the country. It was a disappointing season on the offensive side. But we've got a lot of young guys that are hungry and Coach Cutcliffe's coming in with a great plan for this program."

Tennessee didn't make a whole lot of plays in 2005. Why should 2006 be any different?

Sears answered without hesitation: "A lot of these guys are so hungry they're going to make the plays we didn't make last year."


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