Marcus Tatum on mindset of Tennessee's OL: We don't want to be the excuse for why we are losing
Marcus Tatum has had enough.
The junior offensive lineman has seen many valleys and few peaks during his time in Knoxville but Tatum is planning on that reality finally coming to a close heading into the 2019 season.
After unexpectedly being forced into action his freshman season against the No. 1 team in the nation, you could argue Tatum’s entire playing career has been unorthodox in Knoxville. Now that his body has finally been developed heading into his fourth season at Tennessee, the next step in Tatum’s progression is anchoring an offensive line that has often been used as a punching bag by the UT fan base.
With a strong training camp showing, Tatum appears set to have earned a starting role heading into the season, although that has not been announced at this point.
During his media availability on Wednesday, Tatum noted the depth Jeremy Pruitt’s staff has built up on the offensive line is paying off on the practice field for the Vols.
“It’s been a lot different because we have been going out there at practice at some points in the last year with six or seven people who can actually go through a practice,” Tatum noted in a video uploaded to YouTube by Volquest. “Now it feels good to be able to go through team periods and not be winded because we only have six people.”
Tennessee may have the bodies to field more competitive practices but that won’t mean much if the players that do see the field when it counts don’t take a step forward in the weeks to come. However, if Tatum’s fellow linemen share his mentality, the Vols are poised to take a big step forward on the offensive line.
“Tired of losing. It’s really embarrassing to go out there and just – everybody blame it on us,” Tatum added. “Usually, it is our fault most of the time, just want to make a difference. Don’t want to be the whole excuse why we are losing and why this university is falling apart.”
When asked if that’s something his fellow linemen agree with, Tatum admitted it was to a point.
“Everybody doesn’t say it but they feel it in the back of their head because it’s kinda like anger… A lot of the negativity around this school and the football team has been on us so it’s time to change it,” he concluded.
That’s some bold talk but when you consider the junior has put in the work this offseason to change his body and the results are seemingly showing on the practice field in camp, it would appear Tatum is speaking from the heart and doing everything in his power to turn what has been arguably Tennessee’s biggest weakness into a strength this season.