"Our whole objective in the spring is putting the best players on the field in the best positions possible," defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said following Thursday's three-hour workout at Haslam Field. "I think he can play end or tackle. It all depends on the freshmen we've got coming in (whether he stays at tackle) but he's doing very well for us."
Brown, a rising senior from Athens, Ala., led all Tennessee defenders with 12 quarterback hurries last fall. He was fifth in sacks (2.5) and sixth in tackles for loss (5.5). Exactly half of his 38 tackles in 2008 were solos. He is deceptively fast, technically sound and decidedly hard-nosed.
"I like his quickness and speed," Orgeron said. "He's a technician, a senior who uses his hands well. Our defense is built on speed. He's tough. I like him."
Minus two-year starter Demonte Bolden and part-time starter Walter Fisher from last fall's defense, Tennessee has just one dependable tackle – Dan Williams, who recorded 48 stops last fall. Another rising senior, Andre Mathis, added 7 tackles last season. Rising junior Victor Thomas and rising sophomore Donald Langley did not register a stop between them, and rising junior Chase Nelson missed the season due to a knee injury. The only other scholarship tackle is mid-term enrollee Montori Hughes, who sat out the 2008 season as a non-qualifier and has never played a college snap.
Although Tennessee's outlook behind Williams is somewhat bleak, Orgeron said the move of Brown is not an indictment of the other tackle candidates.
"No. Not at all," the Vol aide said. "We just want to put our best players on the field, be built on quickness and speed. We think we have some ends that are pretty good, so we just wanted to try Wes out there."
Even with Brown at tackle, Tennessee is loaded at end due to such talented prospects as rising juniors Chris Walker, Ben Martin and Gerald Williams, junior college transfer Rae Sykes, plus redshirt freshmen Steven Fowlkes and Willie Bohannon.