Blake Morgan/ SEC Country
Tennessee defensive tackle Kendal Vickers works on his core.

Tennessee football: DT Kendal Vickers became ‘self-made player’

Kendal Vickers: the picture of consistency

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee defensive line starters have received plenty of questions throughout the offseason.

Will tackle Kahlil McKenzie and end Jonathan Kongbo live up to their recruiting hype? Will end Darrell Taylor continue to play like a rising star?

Defensive tackle Kendal Vickers hasn’t received the kind of offseason scrutiny or questions, though. The mild-manner redshirt senior has started 26 consecutive games and has become a picture of consistency for the Vols.

Vickers said the drive to be one of the best players in the SEC has pushed him over the years.

“I always saw myself as trying to be one of the best defensive tackles in the conference,” Vickers said. “I’m going to work for it every day. I’m going to practice for it every day and I’m going to lead like it every day.”

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Vickers continually works on his craft. He came to the Vols as a 3-star 220-pound defensive end in 2013, but Vickers worked for more.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Vickers posted career highs in 2016 with 38 tackles, 6 for a loss, 2.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.

RELATED: Jonathan Kongbo takes quiet, workmanlike approach into season

Coach Butch Jones said his determination has won over the respect of his teammates.

“He’s a self-made player,” Jones said. “He has really made himself into what I feel is one of the better defensive tackles in the country, and that’s all through him with his hard work and determination. He’s now one of our vocal leaders, and when you have the respect of your peers I think that speaks volumes over anything else and he definitely has the respect of his teammates.”

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Tennessee will have week-to-week captains this season. Expect Vickers to make regular appearances for the pregame coin tosses and in the opposing backfield.