KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee running back Marlin Lane says his suspension during spring practice has given him a new appreciation for the game and his team.
Lane was suspended for disciplinary reasons that haven't been specified. The junior from Daytona Beach, Fla., was reinstated this summer, but he didn't appear on the pre-training camp depth chart — an indication he had to regain the coaching staff's trust.
He's been trying to show how much he's changed since his reinstatement.
"I live my life like it's fourth-and-inches every day," Lane said. "It can be taken from me at any second. I just go out there and give it my all."
Lane worked out on the side with Tennessee's injured players Sunday and Monday after spending much of the last week wearing a green non-contact jersey, but Volunteers coach Butch Jones said Sunday it's just a precautionary measure and running backs coach Robert Gillespie reiterated that Monday night. The Volunteers need Lane and Rajion Neal to form a solid one-two punch in the backfield as they attempt to end a string of three straight losing seasons.
With a first-year starting quarterback throwing to an inexperienced receiving corps, Tennessee's passing attack could struggle early in the season. Neal and Lane must be productive to take pressure off the passing game.
"In this league, you have to be able to run the ball," Gillespie said. "The better teams are the ones that can control the clock and move the chains. We do understand that we have one of the best offensive lines in the country. We have to be able to produce behind them. I challenge those guys. I constantly ask, 'Who's going to be the 1,000-yard rusher? Who's going to be the guy?' "
Lane once seemed far from being that guy. While Lane sat out much of spring practice, Neal solidified his position atop the depth chart. Lane wasn't reinstated to the team until June.
"It was very difficult," Lane said. "The whole team became a family. Being separate from them is being without my family. I just learned to appreciate what I've got."
But he didn't stay far away during his suspension.
Drive Your Car on Water + Gas. Convert your car today for only $67.00.