Sears ready to lead young line

He recalls how Tennessee's veteran offensive linemen helped him during his early days as a Vol. Now he is returning the favor by doing the same for the current crop of young blockers.

Arron Sears knows UT's line is unusually youthful and inexperienced right now. He understands it is vital for him to provide the young pups with as much encouragement and technical support as possible.

"I have to. That's on my back," the 6-4, 338-pounder said recently. "I'm a senior, so it's time for me to be a big brother to these younger guys, just like Anthony Herrera and Michael Munoz did for me."

In addition to a bunch of new linemen, Tennessee's offense has a new coordinator (David Cutcliffe), a new line coach (Greg Adkins), a new running backs coach (Kurt Roper), a new receivers coach (Trooper Taylor) and a new tight ends coach (Matt Luke). Parts of the scheme are new, too. That's why Sears feels he has to take the young blockers under his wing.

"There's some stuff Coach Cutcliffe came in and changed," he said. "Just little stuff like that."

Following the December firing of 2005 line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens, head man Phil Fulmer moved Adkins over from tight ends coach to fill the void. Asked if this switch has been a smooth one, Sears nodded emphatically.

"It's kind of seamless because I knew Coach Adkins," he said. "He's been here as long as I have. It's just like no change at all. He was the tackles/tight ends coach anyway."

Tennessee's defensive line got the better of the offensive line most of spring practice, leading many observers to speculate that the Vol attack unit won't be physical enough to be truly effective in 2006. Sears dismisses that notion.

"I'm not worried at all," he said. "We've still got this whole summer to get bigger, stronger and faster. We'll look over the new stuff (terminology and assignments) that's coming in, get that down pat in our minds, then we're going to be OK in two-a-days."

With three new coaches and a new scheme on offense, Arron Sears and his fellow linemen spent almost as much time learning as they did practicing this spring. Was that a problem?

"We had a lot more meeting time to get used to everything in the spring," he said. "I think we've done real well for putting a new system in."

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