Vol DE outlook

If the Tennessee Vols were as well fortified at every position as they are at defensive end ... well, they might be primed for a run at the national title.

The talent parade starts with three seniors who combine quickness, toughness and experience - Chris Walker, Ben Martin and Gerald Williams.

Walker (6-3, 245) and Williams (6-3, 250) played linebacker in high school, and project to play outside linebacker for NFL teams who utilize 3-4 defenses someday. Both are exceptional speed rushers who can drop into zone coverage if needed. Martin (6-3, 251) is more of a traditional defensive end, although he also has the frame of a 3-4 'backer.

Walker started 12 games last fall, Martin 10 and Williams two. No matter how the starts are divided in 2010, all three will play an awful lot of football. Also back from 2009 is sophomore Willie Bohannon (6-3, 238), who got one start last fall.

Despite missing one game due to injury, Walker registered 42 stops in 2009, including a team-high 6 sacks. He intercepted 2 passes, returning 1 for a touchdown. He also broke up a pass, defended 3 more, registered 3 hurries and forced a fumble.

Martin was almost as productive, numbering 3.5 sacks among his 38 total tackles. He broke up 3 passes, defended 3 more, chalked up 2 hurries and 2 fumbles forced.

Williams had no sacks among his 15 stops last fall, but registered 5 hurries. He also broke up 3 passes, defended 3 more and recovered a fumble.

Bohannon chipped in 14 tackles last fall, including 1 sack, 1 fumble forced and 1 fumble recovery.

Tennessee's outlook at end would be exceptional if it ended with the Big Four. It doesn't. Two of the Vols' premier newcomers also play end - mid-term freshmen Corey Miller (6-3, 255) and Jacques Smith (6-2, 248). Smith got a 5-star rating from Scout.com last winter, while Miller attained 4-star status. Both showed flashes of brilliance in spring practice that suggest they are capable of living up to their high school hype.

Walker recorded 4 tackles, 2 sacks and a hurry in the first spring scrimmage, then posted 2 tackles with a sack in the Orange & White Game.

Williams did very little in the first two scrimmages but exploded in the O&W Game, registering three tackles for loss (1 a sack) and among his 4 total stops. He also was credited with a hurry.

Bohannon's shining moment came in Scrimmage No. 1, when he registered 6 stops, 2 tackles for loss and a hurry.

Smith also starred in Scrimmage No. 1, contributing 6 total stops.

Miller saved his best for last, recording 2 stops (1 a sack) in the Orange & White Game.

Martin was limited by injuries all spring and did not post any scrimmage statistics.

Position rating: Excellent. This is the strongest and deepest position on the Vol roster.


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