Heart of the matter

Sometimes folks forget that there are more important things in life than football. One Tennessee player got a dramatic reminder of this last winter.

Shortly after Vol basketball player Duke Crews made headlines when a routine echocardiagram uncovered an abnormality in his heart last December, an unheralded walk-on football player quietly suffered the same fate. Shane Reveiz, younger brother of UT linebacker Nick and Reveiz son of former Vol place-kicker Fuad Reveiz, was found to have a two-centimeter growth on his heart.

One week after Nick and the rest of the Vols played Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl, Shane underwent surgery in Atlanta to remove the growth. He sat out spring practice but remained hopeful that someday he would be cleared to play again.

The happy ending: Shane Reveiz will be among the Tennessee players suiting up for the first preseason practice on Aug. 2.

"Shane actually went to Atlanta (Tuesday) and got a checkup," Nick Reveiz said this week, smiling broadly as he related the good news. "He said he's ready to play, so he'll be here for fall camp."

As Shane recovered from heart surgery last spring, his older brother was experiencing a heavy heart of his own. Nick, a 5-10, 225-pound redshirt sophomore, was understandably distracted as he competed for the first-team middle linebacker job.

"It was a concern," he recalled. "After the bowl game I just recommitted my life to more important things than getting ready for football. What Shane has gone through really put me in check with the fact that anything can happen.

"You can never take anything for granted because it can be taken away like that. My brother helped me realize that."

Like Nick, Shane attended Farragut High School before walking on with the Vols. Like Nick, Shane is bidding for playing time at linebacker. And, like Nick, Shane is looking to fight through adversity. Whereas Nick had to bounce back from a broken leg in the spring of 2007, Shane is looking to bounce back from his heart ailment.

"He went through a hard time," Nick said of his brother, "but I think he's better because of it."

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