Hello, Walls

Hello, Walls

No one was happier to hear that Marlon Walls has been cleared to join the Tennessee football program than Ed Orgeron. Understandably so.

Orgeron, UT's assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, also oversees the defensive line. Marlon Walls should bolster the depth on that line since the 6-4, 293-pounder is big enough to play tackle and quick enough to play end. He has added 23 pounds of muscle since he signed with Tennessee in February of 2008.

Unable to qualify for admission last fall, Walls spent the 2008-09 school year taking courses at Hargrave Military Academy and on-line to get his academics in order. He originally was denied approval by the NCAA Clearinghouse but a waiver filed by UT brass on Wednesday finally got him the OK to enroll at Tennessee.

Next stop: Haslam Field and his first workout with the Volunteers.

"He's probably going to play tackle but could play end," Orgeron said following Thursday's practice. "He's probably going to give us some help inside."

Although he noted that Walls "hasn't been with us, hasn't worked out with us one time," Orgeron said the big guy appears to be in "pretty good shape" and that "we think he can give us some quickness inside. We're happy."

The two go back a ways. As head coach at Ole Miss, Orgeron recruited Walls when he was a senior at Olive Branch (Miss.) High School in the fall of 2007. A mere 240-pounder back then, Walls has packed on 53 pounds since that time.

"Throughout our careers we see guys do that," Orgeron said. "He looked like he had the body type to do that. When he was first recruited by me he weighed about 215."

What makes Walls such an intriguing prospect is that he has retained much of the quickness and agility he had as a 215-pounder now that he's 78 pounds heavier.

"You sure want those guys (interior linemen) to have that kind of athletic ability," Orgeron noted, "so we're excited."

Because Walls missed the Vols' first nine preseason workouts, he is way behind the other defensive tackle candidates. He'll get a crash once he shows up on Friday, however, as Orgeron tries to find a spot for him in UT's line rotation.

"We'll just see how it works out," the Vol aide said. "There are different jobs they can do (based on) what's his strength and what's his weakness. It'll take a little while to find out, but I think he can play for us."

Although he played high school ball across the state line in Mississippi, Walls is a die-hard Vol fan who grew up in Memphis and considers himself a Tennessee native. That makes him even more appealing to Orgeron.

"I like his quickness, his tenacity, and the fact he was a linebacker," the Vol aide said. "Another thing I like about him is that he was the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee, and he's at Tennessee.

"That's what I like."

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