Nose Guard/Offensive Guard
University of Tennessee Volunteers
Raleigh, North Carolina
Georgia Military College
Southeast Raleigh High School
Nicknamed "Shade Tree," McCullers transferred to Tennessee after two seasons at Georgia Military College, where he weighed nearly 400 pounds before arriving in Knoxville in 2012. Orders from the Tennessee staff saw the youngster "slim" down to 377 pounds before he played in his first game for the Volunteers. He would go on to start 19 contests over the next two seasons, giving the team an imposing figure for the battles in the trenches.
Do not be fooled by his mountain-like size — McCullers has impressive change of direction agility and lateral range, along with an incredibly long reach (87-inch wing-span and 36 5/8-inch arm length) along with an efficient set of moves and techniques that allows him to consistently plug rush lanes.
McCullers is surprisingly nimble for as big as he is, and could be a nice fit for a team that is in search for a space-eating nose guard that is capable of pushing a center and guard straight backwards. He's not going to have the quickness to make a lot of plays running long distances, but he makes it tough for defenses to go up the middle.
The Volunteers defender is also relatively effective in the passing game because of his good straight ahead push and long arms allow him to clog passing lanes up the middle. In two seasons at Tennessee, he delivered 72 tackles with 10 of those stops coming behind the line of scrimmage. He also excelled on special teams, using his reach to block a pair of kicks.
At Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School, McCullers recorded 55 tackles and four sacks during his junior year in 2008, earning All-Conference honors. He followed with 29 tackles and five sacks during his senior year, in which he helped the team compile a 10-3 record and earn all-state second-team honors in the process.
Lacking the grades to enroll at a Division I school, McCullers enrolled at Georgia Military College for his freshman and sophomore seasons. He appeared in eight games in 2010, starting four contests after getting himself in playing shape. He posted 27 tackles with three sacks and made seven total stops behind the line of scrimmage.
As a sophomore, McCullers received a three-star prospect ranking from Scout.com. That season, he started all 10 contests, delivering 37 tackles, including nine stops for loss that included a pair of sacks, leading a defense that held opponents to just 261 yards per game.
McCullers committed to Tennessee in January 2012, in part because the team was transitioning to a 3-4 defensive alignment, with which McCullers was more familiar. He finished his junior campaign with 39 tackles (20 solos), including a sack and 5.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, to go along with a forced fumble and a pass broken-up.
After Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley was fired late in the 2012 season, there was speculation that McCullers would forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. He decided to return for the 2013 campaign, however, even though the Vols' new head coach, Butch Jones, was planning to install a 4-3 defense. Recognizing the importance of McCullers making a successful transition to the new scheme, Jones stated prior to the 2013 season, "We'll be as good as Dan McCullers goes."
McCullers started all 12 games at left defensive tackle in 2013. He recorded 33 tackles, including 4.5 stops-for-loss and a blocked kick. He received frequent attention for his enormous size from opposing blockers, but proved to be nearly impossible to block once he got into the rush lanes.
McCullers was also the subject of a USA Today feature in September 2012 that cited his massive size. The photograph shows McCullers towering over a University of Tennessee trainer and was a huge hit that was widely circulated on the web. Over the years, he has acquired numerous nicknames, such as "Mount McCullers," "Big Dan," "Green Mile" — after Michael Clarke Duncan's role in the 1999 film The Green Mile — and "Man Mountain."
Front-and-center for the NFL decision makers to witness themselves, McCullers capped his college career by impressing all during his performances in practices leading up to the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. He consistently bullied opponents with his power, slipping past blockers with a strong rip move during the one-on-one drills.
For his complete college career, McCullers recorded 136 tackles (88 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus-21 yards, 26.0 stops for losses of 52 yards and six quarterback pressures… Added two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two pass deflections and a pair of blocked kicks…Tennessee Career Statistics…McCullers started 19-of-22 games for the Volunteers — seven at nose guard and 12 at left defensive tackle…Finished with 72 tackles (41 solos) that included 1.5 sacks, 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage, six QB pressures, a fumble recovery, one forced fumble, two pass break-ups and two blocked kicks…Georgia Military College Statistics…During his first two seasons, McCullers started 14-of-18 games at nose guard, delivering 64 tackles (47 solos), five sacks for minus-19 yards, 16 stops for losses of 37 yards and a forced fumble.