McNeil no lock to start

Josh McNeil started at center in 2006, 2007 and 2008 for Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. But Fulmer is no longer the head man, and McNeil is no longer a lock to be snapping the ball this fall.

"Josh is in a battle for a starting job right now," new head coach Lane Kiffin said following Thursday's practice. "We're rotating him in there with the 1s and 2s, trying to push him."

McNeil, a 6-4 280-pound rising senior from Collins, Miss., redshirted as a freshman in 2005, then won the first-team center job three games into the 2006 season, earning unanimous Freshman All-SEC recognition. He has started 35 consecutive games heading into his senior season.

"He's played a lot here," Kiffin conceded, "but that really doesn't matter a lot. He needs to continue to improve, so he can be our starting center."

McNeil's chief competition for the first-team center job is fellow senior Cody Sullins, a 6-1, 260-pound walk-on from Cottonwood.

"We've been putting him in there with the 1s, and he's doing really good," Kiffin said. "We've got a heck of a battle going on."

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