Leaner Langley could be lethal

Tennessee football fans will be seeing a lot more of one Vol defensive tackle this season, even though there's a lot less of him to see.

After choosing UT over Penn State and enrolling in January of 2007 as a 6-2, 305-pounder, Donald Langley quickly discovered he couldn't overpower blockers at the college level the way he had back at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Md. Heft alone was no longer enough to win battles in the trenches.

"When I first got here," he recalled, "I couldn't do the things the other linemen could do – guys like Dan Williams and Demonte Bolden – because they were well-conditioned and I was just too heavy."

After a lackluster showing in spring practice last year, Langley got a little lecture from Tennessee's defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks.

"Coach Brooks sat me down and told me the key to my preparation after spring practice was to lose weight and work on my flexibility," Langley said. "You take what Coach Brooks says to heart because he's the best guy in the business.

"I lost weight and worked on flexibility, and this spring you can tell the difference. Coach is telling me all the time it's like night and day."

Having shed 20 pounds in 12 months, Langley believes he's a much better athlete at 285 than he was when he was tipping the scales at 305.

"I feel a lot better," he said. "I feel a lot quicker. I feel a lot more confident, too. The weight loss shows up the most on the pass rush and stamina."

Langley's continued development could be a huge key for the 2008 Vols, who desperately need better play from the tackle position than they got in 2007.

Although he isn't an imposing physical specimen, Langley more than offsets his lack of size with a full-throttle motor. Phillip Fulmer has noticed.

"I see Donald giving really exceptional effort, and that's encouraging," the Vols' head man said. "We just need more production."

Langley's production was pretty significant last Saturday in the Vols' first full-scale scrimmage of the spring. He led all defenders with five stops that afternoon.

"Yeah, that felt pretty good," he said, grinning at the recollection. "Once you get that first tackle out of the way and you put that smile on your face, you have more confidence and more energy and you go a lot faster.

"Once Coach Brooks says 'Good job, Donald' and gives you a pat on the butt, it makes you want to play hard and show the coach what you have."

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