Darren darin' to believe

The Lord giveth, and the National Football League Draft taketh away.

Tennessee should be going into the 2010 football season with three-year starter Eric Berry at strong safety and two-year starter Dennis Rogan at cornerback. Both juniors opted to bypass their final year of collegiate eligibility, however, in favor of the draft.

So, instead of fielding one of the most experienced secondaries in college football this fall, the Vols will field one of the least experienced secondaries in college football this fall.

All is not lost, however. There are some quality players ready to step into the holes left by the departure of Berry and Rogan. Foremost among them may be rugged Darren Myles, a 6-1, 190-pound sophomore.

Myles was ranked America's No. 8 safety prospect by Scout.com after recording 90 tackles, 16 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles and an interception as a senior at Atlanta's Carver High School in 2008. A two-time Class AAA all-state pick, he also played in the Under Armour All-America Game.

As a Vol freshman last fall, however, he played in just seven games. His contribution: Six tackles, 1 assist, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup and 1 pass defended.

It was hardly the impact he envisioned for his rookie season of college ball but he's surprisingly philosophical about it.

"It wasn't bad because I understood the situation," he said, "but people were always asking, 'Why are you not playing?' Like my mom always told me, 'You got to wait your time.' I kept working, and now is my time."

With Berry and Rogan gone, it had better be his time.

"Last year was my chance to learn from those guys," Myles said. "Now it's my year, and I've got to step up."

Pound for pound, Myles might be the biggest hitter on the Vol squad.

"Darren's got a lot of good twitch," head coach Derek Dooley said. "He's active. He's physical."

Myles hopes to provide more than tenacious tackles this fall, however. He hopes to provide the leadership that Berry and Rogan would've delivered.

"I realize now is my time to lead, so I follow in their footsteps," he said. "I try to bring more energy to the defense. I try to know what everybody's doing, so if somebody else messes up I can tell them where they need to be or what they need to do."

Like most freshmen, Myles' first college season was a blur. There was so much to learn that he felt overwhelmed at times. That's no longer the case, however.

"The game has slowed down a lot for me," he said. "I'm able to grasp the concepts of football and the scheme. I'm able to identify stuff faster. That helps me to get to the ball faster because I understand the game a lot more.


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