A find for the D-line?

The big question in Big Orange Country this fall is the DL ... as in defensive line.

The big answer also might be DL ... as in Donald Langley.

With Chase Nelson (knee injury) missing from a tackle corps that was suspect to begin with, the Tennessee Vols desperately need Langley to show he's ready to join veterans Demonte Bolden, Dan Williams and Walter Fisher in the D-tackle mix.

Suffice to say, the early returns are encouraging. Langley, a 6-2, 285-pound redshirt freshman from Germantown, Md., was one of the standouts in Tennessee's first full-scale scrimmage of the preseason.

"It looked like Langley showed up a few times," head coach Phillip Fulmer noted afterward.

Four times to be exact. Best of all, half of Langley's four tackles were minus-yardage stops.

"There's always room to get better," he said modestly. "I understand what our responsibilities are."

Though pleased with his own performance, Langley seemed just as happy that fellow D-tackle Victor Thomas (1 sack, 1 tackle for loss) gave a good accounting of himself on Saturday.

"Demonte and Dan are already veterans who know what to do, so me and Vic came out with the mindset that we had to step up and show Coach we know how to be SEC-ready," Langley said. "Me and Vic had the mindset to come in and dominate. We did our best, and our best was clogging up the run game."

Langley and Thomas clogged up the run game, all right. So did Bolden, Williams and Fisher. With Arian Foster sidelined by a minor leg injury, the Vols' top three reserve tailbacks – Montario Hardesty, Lennon Creer and Tauren Poole – combined for just 37 net yards on 26 rushes.

"I think we did a good job with the run game," Langley said. "I think we did a good job as a whole, and we've got to keep that intensity up every single day."

Langley is an energetic young man who was even more enthusiastic than usual on Saturday. After being limited the previous week by some minor injuries, he was eager to put on a show in the first scrimmage. He succeeded.

"You want to be with the team," he said. "When you're in black shorts (limited) and everybody else is in white pants and flying around – and you CAN'T fly around – you feel like you're missing out on something."

No Vol loves to "fly around" more so than Donald Langley. If all of Tennessee's defensive tackles played with the effort he displays, the Vols might be pretty close to impregnable this fall.

"The eye in the sky (practice camera) never lies, so you've got to understand that," Langley said. "Coach is going to see if you gave effort or not. We've got to go full out, and I think that's what we did as a defensive tackle group."


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