Wells plays best without stress

Scott Wells has it all figured out: The best way to keep his performance level high is by keeping his stress level low.

Soon to begin his third season as Tennessee's starting center, Wells knows that he'll occasionally miss a step, miss a block or even miss an assignment. He knows he'll be chewed out by his coaches occasionally. But he also knows that he can't let a play that's done affect the plays still to come.

''I try to work hard, whatever I'm doing, and keep my stress level down,'' he said recently. ''I try not to let the game get to me. If I make a mistake, I learn from it but then I forget about it. I move on to the next play and don't harp on my mistakes. I try to help the people around me and I take criticism. I just don't let things get to me. When I mess up, I learn from it and go on.''

Wells is one of the key elements of a Vol offensive line that should be outstanding this fall. He started every game last year, as did tackle Will Ofenheusle. Tackle Michael Munoz started every game in 2000 before missing last year following knee surgery, so he's a proven commodity, as well. Guards Jason Respert, Chavis Smith and Anthony Herrera have started at times, so they're hardly novices. Bottom line: Tennessee's line has the experience, the talent and the chemistry to be superb.

''I think we do,'' Wells said. ''I think we've bonded as a unit much more than I think we have since I've been here. We've all played together for so long now that we've had a good chance to bond. We've all got a lot of experience together.''

Wells shapes up as a leader in the blocking wall but he says all of Tennessee's linemen are asserting themselves these days.

''We've got a lot of joint leadership,'' he said. ''The one senior we have, WIll Ofenheusle, is really stepping up.''


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