Mano a mano

At its most basic, football is a game of man-on-man combat. One prospect attending the recent Tennessee Senior Camp not only understands this concept but understands how to convey it in Spanish.

Vincent Johnson, an imposing 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive tackle/defensive end from Knoxville's Fulton High School, found the UT camp to be "a great experience," adding that his favorite segment came near the end of the proceedings.

"It was the one-on-one drills," he said. "It's mano a mano. Either you win or you lose."

Johnson typically wins more than he loses. He's hoping that this knack, along with his impressive frame, his dedication and his aggressive nature, will earn him a major-college scholarship.

"I'm a hard worker," he said. "People tell me I'm nasty."

Since Tennessee already has several offensive linemen committed, Johnson appears to be a long-shot to get a scholarship offer from the Big Orange. Even so, he enjoyed the opportunity to showcase his skills at the UT camp. He described Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer as "a real cool, laid-back guy," and noted that offensive line coach Greg Adkins is "energetic. I liked him."

In addition to Tennessee, Johnson is hoping to visit the campuses of Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee and Penn in the months ahead.

Somewhere down the road Johnson hopes to trade his helmet and shoulder pads for a suit and a microphone. He planning to major in communications with an eye toward someday becoming a sports broadcaster.

When asked what he's looking for in a college, Johnson quickly replied, "Good academics and a good coaching staff."

Blessed with 5.2 speed and a 320-pound bench press, the towering Knoxvillian seems to have the size, strength and agility to play either offensive and defensive line at the college level. Which does he prefer?

"That's hard to say," he answered. "Offensive tackle and defensive end are a lot alike, really. It's just you and your opponent the whole game through ... mano a mano."

There's that phrase again.

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