Almost everything about Chattanooga’s Derrick Lott is big.
At 6-4, 305 pounds, Lott is the biggest body on the Mocs’ ferocious front seven, but that’s not all. His smile, his personality, his voice – they’re all super-sized. So are his aspirations for the 2013 season.
“I’ve got one [season] under my belt and now I’ve got one more,” said Lott, a transfer from the University of Georgia. “This is my last one. I feel good about it, and I want to come in and take a leadership role. I’ve felt good ever since we came out here on the first day.”
That’s not to say Lott wasn’t one of the unit’s leaders last year. Statistically speaking, he was.
In his first season with the Mocs, Lott finished the year ranked second on the team in tackles (57), third in tackles for loss (4.0) and second in sacks (2.0), garnering the oversized interior lineman All-Southern Conference second-team recognition.
He’s wants more in 2013, though.
“I have the opportunity to play big,” Lott said. “I’ve been hearing it from a lot of people.”
A lot of players have been hearing from him this spring, too, particularly the ones on the other side of the ball. He seems to be enjoying head coach Russ Huesman’s new offense-vs.-defense style of practice, and he’s been voicing his approval.
“We’re out here talking trash to each other on both sides, and it’s nothing but motivation for both sides of the ball,” Lott said. “I think it’s good. It brings the team together. It puts a smile on our faces, but at the same time we know we have to compete.”
Lott isn’t the only big name returning to Chattanooga’s defensive line, though. He’ll be joined up front by the 2012 Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Davis Tull, who notched UTC single-season records with 12.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season.
Tackles Toyvian Brand and Chris Mayes also return after both played integral roles in the trenches last season, along with defensive end Zack Rayl, one of the unit’s key reserves who’s eyeing a starting spot next fall.
• Head coach Russ Huesman noted after practice that the ball has been on the ground way too much this spring, and that he’s not at all pleased with the offense’s ball security through four practices: “We can’t do that. We were so good last year, and this spring so far, it’s been not even close. We’re going to have to figure out ways to get it improved. It’s unacceptable.”
• Freshman Nakevion Leslie, who redshirted in 2012, and senior C.J. Murrell, a former walk-on, have both switched positions this spring. Leslie, who played safety on the scout team last season, has moved to outside linebacker, while Murrell has transitioned back to safety after playing linebacker last season.
• Sophomore kicker Henrique Ribeiro nailed a 57-yard field goal towards the end of Wednesday’s practice.
• The Mocs will enjoy four days off before returning to Scrappy Moore Field for the fifth practice of the spring on Monday. The team’s first intra-squad scrimmage is scheduled for Friday at Finley Stadium (4 p.m.), but is open to UTC Mocs Club members only.
- Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.