Most improved Vols

For Tennessee's football coaches, selecting a Most Improved Offensive and Defensive Player for spring practice was an absolute no-brainer.

The offensive award goes to senior wide receiver Quintin Hancock. The 6-3, 207-pounder from Saint Augustine, Fla., didn't record a single catch last fall but he has been by far UT's most productive wideout this spring.

The defensive award goes to junior end Chris Walker. The 6-3, 232-pound Memphis native seemed to record a sack or a hurry on just about every pass attempt when he was participating in spring scrimmages.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney described Hancock as "a wonderful young man" who has done "a fantastic job" all spring.

The coordinator noted that, from the 6 a.m. workouts in January and February through the first 13 spring drills, "that young man has been into exactly what we're trying to do, as far as effort and physical play. He has done a marvelous job.

"We can turn on that tape every day (after practice) and he indicates by his actions that he understands what we want to get done. He flies around the football field. He shows up day in and day out. He plays football the way we want, and we're real pleased with how Quintin's done it."

Chaney also agreed with the selection of Walker, who he described as "fantastic ... a special guy. He's a much stronger football player than I gave him credit for. Chris doesn't look real big but, I tell you, he's hard to block.... If you make a little bit of a mistake (at offensive tackle), he makes you pay. To me, that's how you define good football players."

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was just as complimentary of Walker.

"He's a very explosive player," Kiffin said. "The offseason workouts – 6 o'clock in the morning – he was there every day, never late, working hard. Then to see him go on the field and do it ... be the player you're looking for."

Blessed with explosive quickness and amazing strength for his size, Walker surprised even his own coaches with his dynamic play this spring. He also surprised them with his work ethic and determination.

"He's got all of the intangibles," Kiffin said. "He's got a great future. Coach O (Ed Orgeron) has done a great job with him.... There are defensive ends around college football that are bigger but he plays awfully strong for 235. He's so good with his hands, and he's got the great quickness to get off the blocks of the big offensive tackles."

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