Holmes finds a home ... at tackle

<a target='_new' href='http://scout.theinsiders.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=315820&yr=2002'>Wesley Holmes</a> better have a healthy appetite. After joining the UT football program as a 210-pound linebacker prospect last August, he immediately moved to defensive end and bulked up to 240 pounds. Now he's being asked to bulk up some more and play defensive tackle.

Because the Vols' top four defensive tackles (Rashad Moore, Demetrin Veal, Aubrayo Franklin and Ed Kendrick) are all seniors, UT coaches felt they needed some young talent at the position to build for the future. That's why Holmes, a redshirt freshman from Nashville, got the call. Being the team player that he is, he accepted the new assignment without complaint. He's not without reservation, though. He knows he's awfully small by tackle standards.

''It was a surprise, with my weight and everything,'' he said. ''I'm 244 pounds right now.''

Undersized tackles are no new development at UT, however. Jeff Coleman played the position in the 1990s and Kendrick started 12 games at tackle in 2000. Both are similar in size to Holmes.

''Coach Fulmer said I kind of remind him of Jeff Coleman,'' Holmes said. ''Kendrick told me that the first game he started they listed him at 265 pounds but he actually was 246 pounds.''

Fulmer asked Holmes to make the switch from end to tackle last Friday. He agreed and played mostly tackle in Saturday's scrimmage. He quickly learned that the new outpost requires some adjustments.


''I've got different keys now,'' he said. ''Plus you've got double-teams and you've got to really stay low. I'm getting better with my pad leverage, better with my hands and better with my quickness.''


Holmes has remarkably quickness, an attribute which could serve him well when he's battling 320-pound offensive linemen.


''I sure hope so,'' he said. ''I'm just working hard and trying to learn all the techniques.''


Holmes is one of the most interesting stories on the Vol roster. He originally signed with Ole Miss in February of 2001 but barely missed qualifying for first-year eligibility. Returning to Nashville, he continued taking the standardized test until he achieved the necessary score. By that time, however, he decided he'd rather walk on at UT than return to Ole Miss on scholarship.


After redshirting last fall, Holmes opened some eyes with a three-sack performance in the Orange & White game. He assumed he'd found a home at end.


''That game gave me all the confidence in the world,'' he recalled. ''I worked really hard in the offseason because I want to help this team as much as I can.''


If he gets his chance this fall, it probably will be at tackle ... not end.


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