Ramon reflects on repeating

The recipient of the Most Improved Offensive Player award for Tennessee football's 2007 spring practice knows exactly how the recipient of the 2005 award felt. That's mostly because it's the same guy.

Guard Ramon Foster recently picked up his second Most Improved award in a span of three years. The 6-6, 325-pound junior from Henning, Tenn., redshirted as a true freshman in 2004, then won his first award the following spring. He started two games in the fall of '05 but seemed to regress in '06. Hampered by injuries, he was limited to backup duty in 11 games.

Given his inability to follow up on his previous honor, Foster says this one is more meaningful. It also proved to be more of a surprise.

"It kind of did," he said. "It's the second time around, and it feels better this time – to know I'm actually improving and will have a chance to contribute this year."

Asked what areas he felt he improved most this spring, Foster paused thoughtfully before responding.

"Just the aggressiveness and leadership," he said. "I was trying to lead by example, show the young guys how to work. We all improved as a unit during the spring."

Given how sparingly he played in 2006, Foster was asked how he could command the respect necessary to qualify a team leader.

"Leadership starts on the practice field," he answered. "The game-time situations will come but you've got to know how to practice and be out there to show the young guys how to practice.

"It's not a matter of just playing experience in the games; it's an all-the-time thing."

Tennessee's offensive line struggled with run blocking in 2006. Minus All-American Arron Sears and two-year starter David Ligon from that starting five, the '07 line is considered somewhat suspect.

Based on the progress made during spring practice, Parker thinks the blocking front will be just fine. That's a projection he and his line mates are eager to prove in the months to come.

"We're really looking forward to this offseason," he said, "so we can get better and compete for a championship."

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