Tennessee's junior college transfer nose guard, Daniel McCullers, has made the transition into the SEC as the centerpiece of the Vols' defensive line look easy.
In his first season in the SEC, the 6-8, 360 pound junior has collected a total of 30 tackles through nine games. McCullers has shown that the more experience he gets, the more he understands football in the SEC.
McCullers's teammates aren't surprised by the progress he has made throughout the season.
"Everybody knew he was going to be good," sophomore defensive back Justin Coleman said. "He's a very big guy, so he can clog up the hole."
"He came into the SEC quickly," fellow sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Williams said. "With that kind of natural ability, it doesn't take long."
But McCullers said the transition to the SEC was not an easy one.
"It was hard when I first started going against the big SEC schools. How much (more) physical and faster the game is. Over time I got used to it," said McCullers. "Just learning my technique, conditioning and losing weight has helped (the transition)."
McCullers's enormous presence is extremely valuable in the Vols' new 3-4 defensive scheme.
"He's a big body. That definitely helps everything up the middle," said Williams.
"He's damaging the center," Coleman added. "Centers can't hold him. As long as he keeps playing hard and good, he's going to help us stop the run."
McCullers credits his teammates for his success this season.
"Everyone helped me," McCullers said. "Herman Lathers is the leader of the team. He helped me each and every day."
McCullers noticed that he was not like the other kids in school early on in childhood.
"I would say third grade was when I first started to notice that I was taller and bigger than everybody," said McCullers.
Off the field, McCullers's teammates think that he is a great guy to be around.
"He likes to joke around and plays video games and stuff like that. It's fun to be around him," said senior left guard Dallas Thomas.
Daniel McCullers is the heaviest player on the team. However, when it comes to eating the most on the team, he doesn't believe he can wear the crown.
"Corey Miller eats more than me, surprisingly. But he doesn't gain too much weight," said McCullers of the junior defensive end, who styles himself as the "Hot Wing King." "He's got me beat."
Thomas has his own views on what the results would be in a team competitive eating contest.
"The O-line would win an eating contest. We pound wings all day. The defensive line can't compete with us," said Thomas.
With only a few games left in the regular season, McCullers is still trying to reach a personal goal.
"I want to get a couple sacks by the end of the season," said McCullers.
McCullers has yet to record a sack with the Vols, but he is focused on getting to the quarterback before the season is over.