September 24, 2009

Patient Walls working for shot

Late-arriving signee Marlon Walls knows all too well how to be patient.

The Memphis native has had to be patient for more than a year in waiting to finally arrive in Knoxville last month. Now, Walls is having to be patient again as he plays catch-up to arriving late to the University of Tennessee's fall camp and to not playing football last year.

"Right now I am just trying to get the defense down," Walls explained during a recent interview. "It's a good scheme. I am just trying to get my feet under me and get more comfortable every day.

"I think it is a lot to ask a freshman to just jump right in when you have only been here a few weeks, but I am learning and working hard getting the drills down and learning the defense."

Walls, who is playing scout team defensive tackle this year, doesn't feel that being down on the depth chart is humbling.

"It's been very motivating because you always want to get in and help the team out," Walls said. "We have a great group of defensive guys and a great group of defensive coaches. Coach O (Ed Orgeron) just expects a lot out of us. It's just motivating to get in there and help those guys out as much you can."

As Walls waited on arriving at Tennessee, he ran daily in Memphis and worked out and he thought he was in good shape till he hit the practice field that Friday morning after driving all night to get to Knoxville.

"I wasn't (in shape)," Walls said. "But I would say by the second or third practice I got it down. I started figuring out what was coming and what I needed to be prepared for. I needed to get that extra running in and get in the weight room. But I feel like I am learning."

And learning is the key for Walls. The Memphis native knows that he has to improve on the mental side of things in order to get on the field and right now his role is to help the team in other ways.

"I feel like if I can get better with the system then I think I can move forward," Walls said. "I think it is a mental thing. Right now I am in the weight room three days out of the week trying to get bigger and faster.

"This coaching staff expects so much out of you. That's the way you want it. That's the way you are going to win championships. I know right now my role is to get in on service team (scout team) and help these offensive guys get the scheme down to know what is coming for them on Saturday."

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