After sitting out most of the first scrimmage, the 6-4, 300-pound senior defensive tackle spent the second scrimmage wreaking havoc. He was in the offensive backfield almost as much as UT's quarterbacks, which is why three of his six tackles occurred behind the line of scrimmage.
"It's exciting just to come out here and work," he said of his eye-popping performance. "Being my fifth year, I don't get a whole lot of reps but when I'm out there I go hard, try to improve and work on things that will make me better."
Harrell was one of the ring-leaders in a Saturday afternoon defensive effort that was downright imposing. Vol linebackers were especially impressive. Rico McCoy (8 stops) and Marvin Mitchell (7 stops) topped the tackle chart, followed by Adam Myers-White with 6 stops. Ellix Wilson and Ryan Karl chipped in 5 tackles each.
Defensive backs Demetrice Morley (5 stops, 3 pass breakups), Roshaun Fellows (5 tackles, 1 sack) and Antwan Stewart (4 stops, 2 interceptions) showed playmaking ability, as did Jonathan Hefney and Inky Johnson (2 stops and 1 pass breakup each).
Some observers were surprised by the way the Vol defense manhandled the Vol offense. Not Justin Harrell.
"Tennessee is known for its defense," he said. "That's a tradition we want to continue. We want to come out and dominate every time we're on the field. That's the goal every time we take the field, and I think we did a good job today."
The offense outplayed the defense in UT's first spring scrimmage but the defenders have won virtually every battle since then. Why?
"I'd say it's just working hard," Harrell said. "It's a will to work hard to get better every day. As long as you've got the attitude that you can't be blocked by anybody you're going to tend to your business on the field, and that's what we try to do every day."