Volunteering at tackle

Recognizing Tennessee's lack of depth at defensive tackle, one end decided last March that he'd offer to move inside. He wound up being drafted, though, before he could volunteer.

"The week before we had spring break I thought about going to Coach O (line coach Ed Orgeron) about maybe making the switch," senior Wes Brown recalled. "Wherever I could help was what I wanted to do.

"When I came back (from the break) Coach O called me into the office even before I could get to him. He said he wanted to try me at 3 technique (tackle). I said, 'That's funny, because I was going to come and talk to you about it.'"

Since he'd already come to grips with the idea of moving inside, Brown quickly agreed to the switch.

"It wasn't surprising because I was already thinking about it anyway," he said. "I'm just trying to make the best of it, do whatever I can to help the D-line, the defense and the team."

Unfortunately for Brown, he sprained a knee about 10 days after moving inside and missed the remainder of spring drills.

"I probably got in five or six good practices," he recalled. "It wasn't much but enough to get comfortable and know my role playing the 3 technique."

At 6-4 and 257 pounds, Brown is considerably lighter than most major college tackles. He says Orgeron told him not to worry about gaining weight, however, because the Vol defense values quickness more so than heft. Still, Brown felt a bit dwarfed in practice drills when he would line up across from a 330-pound guard and a 340-pound tackle.

"At tackle, you're in the middle of everything," he said. "You look up and see a guard and a tackle - two huge guys - as opposed to having a big guy (tackle) and a guy that's about your weight, the tight end. That would be the biggest change between end and tackle."

Unless a couple of dependable tackles emerge between now and Sept. 5, Brown will start the season opener vs. Western Kentucky at tackle. Because the Vols' depth at end is modest, though, he probably will see some reserve action on the flank. Is he ready to take snaps at both spots?

"I'll do whatever they have me to do," he said. "If they tell me to go play nose guard, I'll strap it up and go."

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