After the 2016 season, Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop pinpointed three things his defense needed to be better in 2017 - less drama, less injuries and less explosive plays.
We'll have to wait and see on the injuries and explosive plays but rising senior Justin Martin has the key to avoiding drama.
"Communication. Communication is a major key and that goes for everybody," Martin said after Thursday's spring practice.
"There was a lot of behind the scenes drama with people not communicating. You don't ever want to just hold stuff in, because when you hold it in, eventually you explode and that's never good. If a problem occurs, we address the situation immediately and then move on about our business."
Martin, a former four-star prospect, started in the Vols win over Florida in 2016, then was suspended for the Georgia game the following week for a violation of team rules. He says he's moved past that.
"Learning there's a time and a place to say everything, and that's pretty much it, I just learned there's a time and place for everything," Martin said.
Martin has recorded 42 tackles, seven pass break-ups and no interceptions in 24 career games at Tennessee. He feels he has something to prove in 2017.
"It's my last year, so I feel like I've got a lot to prove to my teammates, I've got a lot to prove to myself," Martin said.
"I feel like I could've played way better than I did last year. I listened to a lot of outside noise and really didn't focus on the game in particular and I lost sight of that and now I'm getting back to it."
Bob Shoop praised Martin last week, saying he is doing everything necessary to live up to his potential.
Martin has seemed pretty eager to talk to the large group of media that covers the Vols for a while and finally got his first opportunity on Thursday. He even tweeted about it before practice.
"I like talking to people," Martin said. "Y'all cool, all these cameras, all the microphones, I feel like a famous celebrity right now, all eyes on me."
Butch Jones walked over to the group surrounding Martin with a smile on his face and popped his head in to listen to Martin for a moment.
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