Go SEC Sports


        Your SEC Sports News

                 Apple iTunes







Go SEC Sports




Freshman Starting Linebacker Talks About Adjustment To UT


KNOXVILLE - Adapting from high school to college is tough for any student-athlete. Luckily for Tennessee, it has a freshman linebacker that rolls with the punches.


“The one thing he does is he plays with incredible energy,” head coach Derek Dooley said of Curt Maggitt. “He plays with incredible toughness, effort, spirit and he’s a big guy. When you add all that up, you can get by with making mistakes.


“Good defenses make mistakes and mental errors all the time. But when you have 11 guys who can run, can hit and they’re all flying to the football, it makes up for it. And that’s what he does.”


Staying mentally focused on the field has been a strong suit for Maggitt, who met with the media for the first time following Tuesday morning’s practice at Haslam Field. But it’s his ability to carry himself off the field that’s made the transition seamless.


“It’s been a great experience so far,” Maggitt said. “It’s been a lot different. I’m learning a lot. The toughest part has been adjusting from high school to college, just waking up every morning and having that mindset to be ready every day to get better and be the best you can be every day.”


“Every day,” is no exaggeration. That’s what it takes to be successful as a student-athlete.


“College ball is seven days a week, every day, all day,” Maggitt said. “If you are not getting treatment or in film you are doing classwork or getting a nap or getting a meal. You probably have 45 minutes a day to get a little break time, watch a little TV.


A transition to his overall schedule hasn’t been the only switch for Maggitt. The West Palm Beach, Fla., native is primarily playing linebacker at Tennessee, after playing defensive end at Dwyer High School.


Regardless of what position he’s playing, he’s taking his time at UT in stride.


“I like playing both,” said Maggitt, who also sees some plays at defensive end. “Playing defensive end, you get an adrenaline rush when you see the quarterback with the ball in his hand. Playing linebacker has its positives and cons. Playing defensive end and pass rushing, it depends on you beating a tackle one-on-one or beating that running back. I am enjoying my role on the team.”



Entering the fifth week of his sophomore season, Tyler Bray has taken obvious steps forward in his development as both a quarterback and a team leader. With an already young cast surrounding him on offense and the season-ending injury to wide receiver Justin Hunter, Bray’s continued improvement has becoming increasingly important for the Vols.


“Starting with his approach, that’s the most important thing that he had to change,” Dooley said. “He’s really locked in trying to play well. You see him asking the right questions. You see him communicating what he doesn’t quite grasp to us, which helps us in calling plays. I’ve seen improvement each week. He was in a horrible situation last (game), and he gritted it out. He showed a lot of grit, which I think is so important in any player.”


The grit Dooley talks about comes from Bray continuing to pop up after being sacked three times and hurried nine others by the Florida defense, as well as providing steady leadership in the huddle after Hunter went down in the first quarter.


“His beating wasn’t any worse than the beatings he took the last six games of last season,” Dooley said. “In fact, it was less of a beating physically. The environment was an environment he’s never been in. Of course, what happened in the first quarter changed a lot of what he had been practicing. That’s where the grit came in. He sucked it up and put a great drive together right before the half, but he also made a couple bad mistakes. He has to learn from it.”


As Bray continues to lead the Orange and White this season, he will have to do so without one of his top playmakers. That doesn’t mean he is planning on going downfield any less often though.


“The confidence will still be there, but the accuracy of the ball will probably have to be a little different without having that 6-4 guy who can jump out of the complex,” Bray said. “We still have the same deep concepts we had with Justin. The game plan is going to stay the same. We just might not throw it deep as much.”


Helping lift Bray’s confidence is the trust he has in the remaining receiving corp.


“The receivers have taken over great,” Bray said. “Da’Rick and Zach Rogers have shown great leadership at wide receiver and are just doing their job. (At tight end, Mychal Rivera) is a big, wide body. Him and Cameron (Clear) are bigger tight ends and (Brendan) Downs is a little faster. They are big bodies, big targets and have great hands. I always know where he is going to be. Just like all of the receivers, I know where they are going to be when they make their cuts.”


A new target that will come into play more often now is freshman DeAnthony Arnett who posted a breakout performance at Florida, snagging eight catches, the most by a Tennessee rookie since Kelley Washington had 11 against LSU in the 2001 SEC Championship Game.


“We ran a lot of short routes to him that Florida was kind of giving us,” Bray said. “Just getting him in the ball game and getting him used to SEC play will help out a lot.”



A tight-knit group, the Tennessee offensive line often breaks practice by simultaneously saying “O-L-P,” which stands for “O-Line Pride.” The acronym was hurt when the Vols rushed for -9 yards at Florida, but the members of the front five have been their own worst critics.


“I think those guys are hard on themselves,” Dooley said. “I think they hurt more than everybody thinks they do when they don’t perform well because it’s important to them. As long as I see that it’s important to them and it bothers them when they don’t perform, they’ll be fine. They’ll fight their way out of it.”


They aren’t panicking just yet.


“I am not in desperation but deep down inside we want to get it right,” offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James said. “It is one thing we wanted to work on all summer and we have to go out here and get it fixed as the season goes on.”



Opportunity is best defined as the ability to advance or progress. Potentially no member of the team understands this word better than junior tight end Mychal Rivera.


With the exit of former Vol tight end Luke Stocker to the NFL, Rivera has been handed the keys to a position that has produced top NFL prospects for decades in Big Orange country.


“An opportunity like this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Rivera said. “It’s time for me to show up and make plays.”

After the loss of standout wide receiver Justin Hunter at Florida, that opportunity got a little bigger.


“We’ve got a lot of guys who can fill in and do their role,” Rivera said. “Personally, I know I need to step up and help fill that void.” 



This is the final weekend for the annual SEC Together We CAN Food Drive!  Every fall, the 12 SEC schools and the surrounding communities collect canned food to help fight hunger.  Saturday, Oct. 1, from 9 a.m.-Noon, there will be collection bins at three or four locations throughout the Vol Village where UT fans can make donations.  UT student-athletes will be collecting and happy to sign autographs and take pictures.  All of the food donated goes to the Second Harvest Food Bank here in Knoxville.  The first 500 donors will receive a coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of any entrée at the Texas Roadhouse during Vol Calls with Dooley on Wednesday nights from 7-9 p.m.



Head coach Derek Dooley

(On how James Stone handled his performance at Florida)

“That game bothered him. It was a little bit of a dip back. He hadn’t performed like that the first two weeks, and certainly he didn’t go against D-lineman like that the first two weeks. We’ll see if we learn from it and improve. We’ll have plenty of opportunity going forward in the same situations.”


(On Tuesday’s practice)

“It was a good, spirited practice today. We had a lot of real good energy. I was real pleased with it. Now, we have sort of two Thursday’s to kind of polish up the gameplan and hopefully, we’ll come out fresh and ready to go Saturday.”


(On recovering from mistakes)

“Everybody is a little different. Some guys, they just play. They don’t care that they make mistakes. They play fast. Curt is an example of that. Other guys, they don’t play as fast as they can because they’re thinking and it just takes them awhile to be able to trigger. It’s a comfort level that you get. ‘OK, I got this thing.


Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray

(On Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack)

“Number 46 is pretty good. We have to try to block him, he’s going to try to disrupt things. If we can just block him, we should be fine.”


(On the bye week after a loss)

“It actually helps. We get more practice in for the next game. It gets you prepared for the game a little better.”


Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt

(On starting right away)

“I came with expectations of helping the team anyway possible. I came to do my best and work hard every day. It’s been a blessing. It’s a great feeling, starting for an SEC team. It’s a great team with great players and a great coaching staff.”


(On being in the right place at the right time)

“My position coach, Coach (Peter) Sirmon, that’s all we talk about — pre-snap alignment and  tackling. We go over that every day, that’s key for us. In high school, I played D-End so coming to play linebacker in the SEC has been a big difference for me. I’m trying to just make the best of it.”


Sophomore right tackle Ja’Wuan James

(On Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack)

“He is a hard worker.  Everyone here compares him to Jacques Smith.  He is really good and he plays hard. He is the motor of their team.”


(On James Stone)

“James had to shake it off and look at what he was doing wrong.  He did a lot of studying and a lot of snaps out here after practice to try and get it right. That is what I like about James and a lot of the people on our offensive line – if we mess up we are going to work to fix it and get it right.”


Sophomore defensive end Jacques Smith

(On his improvement)

“I feel like there is a lot of room of improvement and I feel it in my play.  I just need to be consistent, that is what Coach (Lance) Thompson tells me every day.  I just have to continue to get better.  I am not a perfect player, I have not had my perfect game and I haven’t had my best game.  I am really excited about what I can do and the chances I have to be a great player here.  I just have to continue to work hard every single day.”


(On playing fast)

“You don’t have to think as much.  It is like solving a problem.  It’s like double jeopardy.   You don’t want to get the wrong answer and have everyone make fun of you.  On the national podium, like we are on, and you make a mistake like that-it is a touchdown. I just need to make sure I am doing my job and doing what the coaches want me to do.”


Sophomore placekicker Michael Palardy

(On his performance at Florida)

“It disappointed me a lot. It was unacceptable. It should not happen, and it will not.”


(On having a short memory)

“The worst thing for a kicker to do is kick the ball out of bounds on a kickoff, or miss a field goal especially on one you should be able to make. You’ve just got to forget about it and go on to the next one knowing that the next opportunity you have, you have to take advantage of it.”



Become a Fan    



Go Big 10 Sports





Copyright  2011 GOSECSPORTS.COM  All rights reserved.
GOSECSPORTS.com is not affiliated in any way with the SEC Conference®.
Team logos are the property of the respective members of the SEC.

This website is an unofficial source of sports news and information, and is not affiliated with any school, team or league.