Poole makes a splash

Running a football is a lot like ironing a shirt; it's all about finding the creases.

Tennessee's Tauren Poole must be finding a lot of creases this spring because the rising sophomore tailback seems to make at least one big run each time the Vols take the practice field.

"Yeah, he does. He's doing really well," head coach Lane Kiffin said following Thursday's workout. "He's broken a lot of nickel runs for us ... has played some three-wides back for us and done really well. He's another example of a guy that people haven't talked about very much who has come out here, kept his mouth quiet and really performed well."

Poole certainly qualifies as a guy "people haven't talked about very much" lately. He's stuck behind rising senior Montario Hardesty, who is healthy for one of the few times in his UT career, and rising junior Lennon Creer, who averaged a team-best 5.1 yards per carry last fall. Poole also is overshadowed by two heralded Vol signees – Bryce Brown and David Oku – who will join the mix in August. Throw in mid-term enrollee Toney Williams, and it's easy to see how Poole could get lost in the shuffle.

The talented tailback from Toccoa, Ga., isn't wasting time bemoaning his lack of notoriety, however. He's just pushing to move up the depth chart.

"Man, when you're the third running back you've got to have some extra motivation," he said. "It's apparent you need to step it up when you're the third guy. For the most part, I come out here and do what I do. I came here to play running back, and that's what I'm working for."

Poole seems to run better near the end of practice. When defenders are running on fumes, he still has plenty of gas in the tank.

"I would say endurance (is the key)," he said. "I just think it's my muscle endurance – running every day and doing what I have to do to stay fit."

The fact Tennessee has a new staff installing a new offensive scheme this spring is exciting for young backups such as Poole. The fresh start has put them on equal footing with guys who are older and have played more.

"Everybody starts the same," Poole said. "We're all running new plays and we've all go to do what we've got to do to play. That's what I'm doing. I'm learning and I'm playing my hardest.

"I try to hustle every day in practice. You play like you practice, and I want to come out here and practice as hard as I can."

At 5-10 and 203 pounds, Poole isn't quite as big and powerful as Hardesty (6-0, 212) and Creer (6-1, 211). He runs with exceptional vision and determination, however.

"I think I bring a lot of energy," he said. "I get to the hole as fast as I can, get in and out of creases. If the line blocks well and the fullback blocks well, I can just hit creases all day."

And finding creases is what it's all about ... whether you're ironing a shirt or running a football.


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