Davis is dynamic defender

If you can play football, the University of Tennessee will find you.

Case in point: Dorian Davis of Iowa City, Iowa. The Vols send recruiters to Iowa about as often as they send them to Canada ... which is to say almost never. Davis packed just 200 pounds on his 6-2 frame as a high school senior. But, blessed with the speed to run sprints and hurdles in track, he projected to be a perfect fit for Tennessee's weakside linebacker position.

Those projections are looking pretty good. Last Saturday, in Tennessee's Game 4 defeat of Arkansas State, Davis ranked third on the tackle chart with 5 stops – all solos. That's four more than Rico McCoy, the guy who starts at weakside linebacker for the Vols.

"I feel like my game is coming along," Davis said this week. "I'm still backing up Rico because he's playing great right now, so what I'm doing right now (playing a reserve role) is going to help the team out more."

Davis has the quickness and coverage skills to play strongside linebacker, if needed. It's a little more complicated position but he believes he'll be able to play both outside spots eventually.

"At strongside you've got to play smart and be aware of what everybody's doing on every play," he said. "Once I get that down I'll get to play both. But I'm not comfortable doing all that right now, so I think Will linebacker is a great position for me."

Davis was one of Tennessee's best special teams coverage men in 2006 and is helping in that role again this season.

"It helped me bring my game along," he said. "I figure if you work hard on special teams you should get some playing time in the games."

Davis lacked the bulk to play SEC-caliber linebacker when he arrived at Tennessee 14 months ago. He has added 15 pounds of muscle since then, however, and now boasts the strength needed to hold up at the point of attack.

"I'm about 215 or 220 pounds," he said. "It fluctuates between those two. It feels like I'm a little slower than I was when I first got here but I don't think the weight has made too much difference."

Apparently not. Davis is still one of the quickest linebackers on the Vol roster. And, with McCoy's tackling being somewhat erratic, Davis might pop up in the starting lineup one of these days. For now, though, he's perfectly content with his backup role.

"I think I'm helping the team out more, and that's my first concern," he said. "I'm not thinking about stats or nothing. I'm just looking to help my team."

He certainly is succeeding on that front.


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