D-line D-velops

When spring practice began in early March, the defensive line was one of Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer's biggest concerns. Fourteen practices and one spring game later, he feels a little better.

Tennessee's front four still has a long way to go but the progress it made in the spring was very encouraging to the Vols' head man.

"We certainly have taken some strides in some areas, such as the defensive front," he said recently.

Although Antonio Reynolds and Xavier Mitchell are returning starters at end, Fulmer was hoping each would elevate his play this spring. That apparently happened.

"I'm really happy with what Antonio Reynolds got done this spring, along with Xavier Mitchell," Fulmer said. "That's two seniors who have played a lot of football for us, but we needed their example."

The head man was even more concerned about the tackle position, where the top three players from 2006 – Justin Harrell, Turk McBride and Matt McGlothlin – have exhausted their eligibility. Fulmer believes two of UT's young tackles followed the example set by Reynolds and Mitchell, working hard to improve mentally and physically during the spring. The coach found that very gratifying.

"Dan Williams and Demonte' Bolden have tried to follow suit from that standpoint," Fulmer said. "Those two and J.T. Mapu created a little bit better situation at defensive tackle than we started the spring with."

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