January 13, 2012

Vols scale 'Mt. McCullers'

The battle to climb Mount McCullers was finally achieved by a school that's hoping to climb back to the top of the SEC.

Tennessee beat out Alabama and Texas A&M for defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and the massive tackle said Tennessee was the best fit for him.

"From the start they showed me everything I wanted to find," McCullers said. "Tennessee is a great school with great coaches and really good players. I've gotten to know some of the guys like Corey Miller and it's been good to build that bond."

The chance to play right away was big for the 6-foot-6, 380-pounder. He was really impressed by the Volunteers staff and praised their ability to get to know him and just be "real."

"The staff has always showed me love," McCullers said. "Coach (Terry) Joseph is a really good guy and he's down to earth. We've had a lot of good conversations and he's helped me a lot through this process. Coach (Lance) Thompson and I just talk about life and he's probably the one I've kept in contact with the most. He just tells me how things are and how they are going to be up there next year."

McCullers was also blown away by the academic side of the Tennessee campus. He feels like Tennessee will help prepare him for life after football.

"One thing that really stood out to me was the academic structure," McCullers said. "They do a good job of keeping everything organized. They keep you on top of everything and that really impressed me. Academics are important and it's nice to have a place that will push you."

McCullers has been a force at Georgia Military College the last couple of seasons. He's really worked hard on his game. He believes that his style resembles a current All-Pro in the NFL.

"I'd say my game is similar to Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots," McCullers said. "I've got a lot of power and I just get the job done. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team. I need to improve my pass rush so I can get to the quarterback. I have a pretty good bull rush, but I'm working on more moves and better technique."

Tennessee always had a whisper in McCullers' ear in the form of 2011 Vol signee Willie Carmichael. The former state championship winning quarterback at Greeneville is on his mission to get back to Tennessee.

"We're really cool," McCullers said. "I've been helping him through this year and he's helped me too. He loves Tennessee and he's always talking about them. He's a good guy."

The chance of immediate playing time was too much to pass up for McCullers and he can't wait to throw on his helmet and pop some pads in the fall.

"My expectations are to be the best player I can be," McCullers said. "I want to get in the best shape of my life and make Tennessee better. I feel like I can help the team right away and in return, it will help me become a better all around player. I want to get Tennessee back on top where we need to be."

Rivals,com ranks McCullers as a 4-star defensive tackle in the class of 2012.

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