Frogg lives his dream

Growing up in Kingston, Michael Frogg regularly attended University of Tennessee home football games. He knew the odds were long, but that didn't stop him from dreaming of one day starting for the Vols.

That dream becomes a reality Saturday, when Tennessee hosts California in the 2006 season opener. Michael Frogg, a former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship earlier this month, will be the starting center. When told the news last week, the 6-4, 300-pound junior was understandably thrilled.

"It was pretty uplifting," he recalled. "There was an extreme amount of emotion. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

"I had flashbacks to when I was young, sitting in the stands and watching the guys come out of the tunnel and warm up. That's the vision I had in my head, and I was dumbfounded by the excitement I'm going to have this Saturday.

"I called the house (to tell his parents) and they were all excited and stuff."

Appropriately enough, this Frogg is green. He has played in just four games during his Vol career. He saw mop-up action in two games as a freshman in 2004, then played a few snaps against Ole Miss last October. He has seen significant action in just one game, playing roughly three quarters of the '05 season finale at Kentucky.

As fate would have it, Frogg's first start finds him going against one of the premier defensive linemen in all of college football. recently tabbed Cal's Brandon Mebane the fourth-best player in the Pac 10.

"I consider that a great advantage," Frogg said. "He's one of the best in the nation. If I can do anything with him, I'm good to go. But their whole defense - not just him - is really, really solid."

Frogg has been battling heralded redshirt freshman Josh McNeil for the first-team center spot since last March. He says winning the job hasn't changed him.

"I had been watching film and practicing really hard all preseason, so I don't think my preparation has changed a lot," he said. "I probably watch film a little more in detail but not much, really."

News of his starting assignment may not have affected Frogg's preparation significantly but it certainly affected his mood.

"Oh, yeah," he said, grinning broadly. "I've got a renewed sense about me."

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