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Tennessee opens spring practice with Vols needing to toughen its foundation

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There’s plenty to like about Tennessee’s team culture. The overall mantra under Vols’ coach Josh Heupel is to be respectful, fair and supportive. Well, that can take a back seat for a bit.

Heupel is in a unique position as the Vols open spring practice on Monday, which begins on-field preparation for the Vols in a season in which expectations are sky high. Maybe the Vols should toughen up a bit?

Here are three reasons why Tennessee should hold their most physical spring camp since Heupel, who doesn’t even allow fighting in practice, became head coach before the 2021 season.


The Vols have more depth than ever before – and its not close. Tennessee can legitimately go two-deep at most positions on the field. Sure, there will be some isolated players and positions that need to be protected, but look for the Vols to hold more scrimmage situations than in the past three spring camps. If the Vols lose a player to injury, there should be a competent backup behind him.

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Test the middle

I think the Vols will be much better in the interior of their defensive line. However, I’m not sure they’ll be great, especially against a team intent on running the ball physically between the tackles. Plus, there are some defensive tackles that could toughen up. I won’t mention names just yet, but with NIL and NFL money on the line, it’s time for some Vol defenders to get ready for a tough team like Georgia, even though it’s just March

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Nico will follow

I believe the Vols have a new leader on the field this season. Maybe just a redshirt freshman, Nico Iamaleava, by all indications, is a mature, workaholic that only desires to be better in football and win championships. If Heupel decides to ratchet up the physicality, Iamaleava will fall in line, as well as the other strong leaders that the Vols have on the team that will first take the field on Monday for spring practice.

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