Ex-Vol thriving in Green Bay

University of Tennessee fans are understandably proud when former Volunteers such as Peyton Manning, John Henderson, Donte' Stallworth and Jason Allen are selected in Round 1 of the National Football League Draft.

Equally worthy of the fans' pride and respect, however, is a former Vol who was a mere seventh-round pick in 2004. That would be Scott Wells, who recently completed his first season as the starting center for the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

Wells, a 6-2, 290-pounder, was considered a marginal college prospect when he signed with the Vols out of Spring Hill in 1999. After a redshirt year, however, he started 49 games over the next four seasons and captained the team as a senior. Still, he was considered a marginal pro prospect when the 2004 NFL Draft arrived.

Taken by the Packers in Round 6, he was waived during training camp, then re-signed two days later. Wells stuck it out, though, and gradually developed into one of the Packers' key players. He started 10 games in 2005-06 – eight at guard, two at center – then started all 16 games at center in 2006-07. He did not allow a sack last season and was guilty of just three penalties (two false starts, one holding). He was rewarded last November with a five-year, $15 million contract extension.

Making Wells' 2006-07 performance all the more remarkable was the fact he was sandwiched between rookie guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz. With Wells anchoring the line AND calling the pass protections, Green Bay allowed just 19 sacks – lowest total in the NFC and third-lowest in the entire NFL. (Note: The Packers' starting line also included former Vol Chad Clifton at left tackle.)

A March 28 article posted by Mike Spofford on Packers.com noted that Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy considers Wells one of the building blocks in the franchise's future. Here's what Spofford wrote about the former Vol:

"McCarthy said he was particularly pleased with the play of center Scott Wells last season. Wells, in his first full year as the starting center, showed sound decision-making ability as the lineman calling the protection schemes, helping the young interior of the offensive line (with rookies Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge flanking Wells most of the season) keep getting better."

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