KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It didn’t take long to identify Tennessee’s vocal leader in the weight room this spring.
The player referred to as “D.T.” was seemingly everywhere, spotting one teammate here, encouraging another over there, spreading his energy and enthusiasm from one corner of the weight room to the other.
“I think Darrell is one of the guys who bought in right away to what we’re doing,” Vols’ strength coach Rock Gullickson told SEC Country. “He’s got a really good support group with the rest of those defensive linemen, too.”
No doubt, Kahlil McKenzie, Jonathan Kongbo, Quay Picou and Kendal Vickers were others who stayed late with Taylor to squeeze out more work on this particular day.
Gullickson said leadership is important in the weight room, as the players have to keep one another energized and willing to fight through the grind.
Tennessee is off this week, having just finished up a four-week block of strength training with three more weeks ahead when they return from the holiday week.
The start of fall camp in August is around the corner.
Gullickson said he has enjoyed building relationships with the players, and Taylor is one he connected with soon after formally accepted the job on Jan. 10.
“There are some guys you click with right away and you’re on the same wavelength with, and Darrell was one of those guys,” Gullickson said. “His body changed quickly in our winter session, and so I think he was like, ‘This is a good thing.’”
Gullickson said he has told his players as they head home for the week to keep an ear open to what their fathers and uncles have to say about their conditioning level.
“Their friends and family haven’t seen them for a while, so then they go home and they say, ‘holy smokes, what have you been doing,’” Gullickson said. “But I tell them that your mom is always going to say you look good, but if your dad or your uncle says you look good, you are probably doing it right.”