published Friday, October 7th, 2011

Vols beef up their D-line

KNOXVILLE -- The average weight of Georgia's five starting offensive linemen is nearly 327 pounds.

Based on the changes Tennessee made to its depth chart Thursday, the Volunteers are wary of the size of the Bulldogs' front line.

Maurice Couch slid from backup nose tackle to second-team defensive tackle behind Malik Jackson in the place of Corey Miller, and freshman Allan Carson is now Daniel Hood's backup at nose tackle. Couch weighs 305 pounds and Carson is 325.

"We're thin. Everybody knows we're thin," UT defensive line coach Lance Thompson said Wednesday. "We're trying to rotate guys in there, and as the competition heats up, we're going to have to have more bodies in there. It's a long season, and we're not really particularly big up front, so we need to rest guys and not just get them beat up. We've got to do a good job of rotating kids."

Couch has been in UT's rotation all season, but Carson made his season debut against Buffalo. Miller is a converted defensive end at 265 pounds, and he and fellow freshman Jordan Williams, who had a sack in his debut against the Bulls, could play Saturday night on passing downs.

In other depth-chart changes, junior Nigel Mitchell-Thornton has taken John Propst's place at middle linebacker, Art Evans is Izauea Lanier's backup at one cornerback spot and freshman Justin Coleman and sophomore Eric Gordon are listed as co-backups behind Marsalis Teague.

Offensively, backups freshman Kyler Kerbyson and sophomore JerQuari Schofield have switched positions to right guard and right tackle, respectively.

Texas Possibilities

Van linebacker Dalton Santos and Dallas-area safety LaDarrell McNeil are the two commitments from Texas for UT's' 2012 recruiting class, but the Vols might make more inroads into the talent-rich state with Texas A&M joininig the Southeastern Conference.

Coach Derek Dooley coached at LSU, and special teams Eric Russell coached at Texas Tech in 2009.

"Obviously with Coach Dooley and Coach Russell's ties to Texas, we're always going to recruit out there," said Terry Joseph, UT's defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator. "With those guys being so connected, right now we're able to spot recruit pretty good and not, per se, be out there full-time.

"But as maybe having the possibility of playing there every other year, now we'll get into it a little bit heavier because those guys can see our product. The one good thing for us is that Houston and Dallas both have direct flights to Knoxville, so that'll help us out."

Recruiting Tidbits

UT got commitment No. 18 for 2012 on Thursday when Danny O'Brien, a defensive tackle from Flint, Mich., announced for the Vols over Michigan. O'Brien, a 6-foot-2, 293-pounder who's rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, also had scholarship offers from Alabama and Florida.

First-year UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin will host a trio of official visitors this weekend, including Jarnell Stokes, a five-star power forward from Memphis. Landen Lucas, a center from Portland, Ore., and Adonis Filer, a point guard from Hammond, Ind., are the other two.

Status Update

Linebacker Curt Maggitt was in a noncontact jersey during Thursday's practice. It was the freshman's second consecutive practice without contact, but it's just a precaution.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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