March 25, 2008
What can Brown do for U(T)?
Without question, the thinnest part of the Tennessee football team is along the defensive line. The Vols have only two proven tackles and are only four deep at defensive end.
John Chavis will need unproven players to step up and become consistent contributors, and that's where junior Wes Brown comes in.
"I need both Robert(Ayers) and Wes to set the tempo in practice," defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell said. "They have to walk the walk and they have both been doing that so far."
Brown and Ayers have very different styles of play, but Brown feels both he and his counterpart could accentuate each other very well.
"Hopefully, we'll be a good complement to each other," Brown said. "He's crazy athletic, and I'm very good with technique. Hopefully the younger guys like Ben (Martin) and Chris (Walker) can see us and combine us in to one."
Brown recorded 23 total tackles as a sophomore, and he knows that he has to play well with the lack of depth at his position.
"We are going to have to pick it up in practice," Brown said. "It hurts not having the depth we want, but we have to work as a unit and go hard on every play."
Having been in the program for three years, Brown knows the defensive schemes extremely well, but for the first time he's alongside Ayers at the top of the depth chart.
"The only thing different from last year is I'm running with the first team," Brown said. "I'm taking the same approach. I'm trying to lead and work hard. I want to be a guy that people look at see me busting my tail."
As a redshirt-freshman and early on in his sophomore season, Brown saw action but mostly on special teams and mop-up duty. Midway through last season that started to change.
"I finally figured out that I just need to turn it loose," Brown said. "Technique is very important, but I was hesitant at times. I just started playing and not worrying so much."
Caldwell saw the growth in Brown's game rise from a confidence level.
"I think he got more confidence at the end of last year," Caldwell said. "I also got more confident in him. He is really consistent and very quick. He grew up last year and we'll need more players to grow up this year."
The time for Wes Brown to be a key contributor to the Tennessee football program has come, something that he has longed for his entire life.
"I don't care about all the other stuff that comes with playing," Brown said. "I just want to win. It was a childhood dream to play at Tennessee, and I'm getting to live that out. How many people get to do that?"
Brown does, and he hopes to make that dream very much a reality with a big junior year.
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