'Last tackle' survives

Some first-year head coaches are so determined to put their stamp on a program that they reject everything that has ties to the past.

Fortunately for Tennessee fans, head football coach Lane Kiffin has not done so. He kept the Vol Walk, the checkerboard end zones and most of the Vols' other long-held traditions. The wearing of black jerseys on Halloween was a notable exception but Kiffin is embracing the past again this week. Today he'll allow Vol seniors to go through the traditional "Last Tackle" drill.

Basically, the drill permits each senior to deck a tackling dummy outfitted in the colors of the final regular-season opponent - Kentucky, in this case. This all probably sounds a little hokey to the average fan but it carries surprising significance for Tennessee's players.

"It is important," senior defensive tackle Wes Brown said. "My first year I got to see Parys (Haralson), Jason Hall and those other guys do it. I thought, 'Man, that's going to be me one of these days.' You look forward to it as a senior. That'll be great to continue that."

When Kiffin took the Big Orange reins last December, he had no idea what the school traditions were. The Power T, the Vol Walk, the checkerboard end zones and the Last Tackle Drill were just words. Once he realized how much the Last Tackle Drill meant to his players, however, he was fully behind the gesture.

"I actually talked to a couple of seniors about it because I didn't know anything about it," he said. "Someone brought it up to me, so I talked to a couple of seniors. They'd like to do it, so we'll continue it."

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