Friday, February 15, 2013
Offseason spotlight: Tennessee
By Chris Low
Our offseason spotlight series shifts to Tennessee, which enters the 2013 season with its fourth head coach (Butch Jones) in the past six years.
Spotlight: Defensive end LaTroy Lewis, 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, rising redshirt freshman
2012 summary: Lewis established himself during the preseason a year ago as one of the true freshmen who definitely looked like he would be able to help the Vols, but he tore his ACL about a week before the opener and missed the entire season.
The skinny: Lewis was an outside linebacker in the Vols' 3-4 scheme last season and turned more than a few heads during preseason practice with his ability to make plays and get to the football. With Tennessee shifting to a base 4-3 defense under new coordinator John Jancek, Lewis is expected to start out at defensive end. He's 6-foot-4 and right at 240 pounds and possesses the explosive burst off the edge that all coaches are looking for in a pass-rusher. The Vols need to find a way to generate more pressure on the quarterback, which makes Lewis a very valuable member of that defense. Tennessee finished with an SEC-low 17 sacks in 12 games last season, and while there were obviously issues in the secondary, a big part of the Vols' inability to stop anybody was that they simply didn't get any pressure on the quarterback. This spring will be big for Lewis just to get back into football shape and regain the feel of playing football again. The same goes for this entire offseason and summer because the Vols need him to be healthy and 100 percent confident in that knee when the season begins. He's played very little football the past two years. In addition to missing all of last season with the torn ACL, he missed most of his senior season in high school after breaking his foot. Lewis ranks up there with junior safety Brian Randolph as a couple of players returning from injuries that the Vols desperately need to have healthy on defense when the 2013 season begins.