Better 'backers

It is going to be a long summer for senior Nick Reveiz. The senior middle linebacker, sidelined by a torn ACL last season, did not enjoy spending his last Orange and White game as a spectator.

But for what it's worth, Reveiz liked what he saw from the linebackers.

"I think we did well," he said. "I think we have the potential to be one of the best groups on the team, if not in the SEC. We're going to have a good year."

Reveiz hopes to start for the Vols by the season opener. But for now, he said he's more like a coach.

With Reveiz and fellow Mike linebacker Savion Frazier out with injury, former fullback Austin Johnson has stepped up to add depth to a linebacker corps hurting for it.

Coach Derrick Dooley praised Johnson for how he has made the change this spring.

"He got a ‘surprise of the spring' award because he went over there at Mike and it was if he had been there for two years," Dooley said. "He's going to be a solid player for us."

Johnson had five tackles in the Orange and White game, all solo, including one tackle for a three-yard loss.

Johnson said he feels comfortable in his new role. To him, it's all football.

"I think I'm making the adjustment from fullback to linebacker pretty well," he said. "I still have a long way to go. I'm making short strides."

Reveiz's younger brother Shane is also working toward a starting spot this summer. Like his brother, Shane Reveiz came to UT as a walk-on out of Farragut (Tenn.) High School.

Unlike Nick, however, Shane Reveiz has yet to earn a scholarship.

The younger Reveiz said the biggest challenge for him this summer is to improve his knowledge of the game.

"For me, personally it's just knowing the defense in and out and learning my assignments," he said. "It's definitely difficult."

But even with the new coaching staff, Shane Reveiz said outside of knowing new terminology, knowing the defense in and out is just building off what the previous coaching staffs have taught him.

At this point in the year, coaches tend to evaluate talent and skill more than adjusting to defensive systems, Shane Reveiz said. With that in mind, the linebackers' chemistry is a positive sign to him.

"I think we have a lot of chemistry. We feed off each other. We all just want to get on the ball," he said. "Our drive and competitiveness is going to give us an edge."

Senior LaMarcus Thompson agrees.

"I think we're farther along this year than we were along last year," he said.

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