It was a routine football play during the Sept. 26 win against Ohio last season when middle linebacker Nick Reveiz chased a Bobcat ball carrier toward the Tennessee sideline.
When the play ended, so did Reveiz’s season, as he tore the lateral meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The former walk-on was relegated to watching the remaining 9 games from the sidelines on crutches, but he made a promise following the injury.
“I told (linebackers coach Lance) Thompson the night after the Ohio game, ‘I’m going to be back for spring ball,’” the team captain said following his first practice going through contact drills this spring. “He just said ‘Get healthy,’ and the whole time they were saying they weren’t going to do anything live (during the spring), just seven-on-seven and individual drills, but today they decided to let me loose a little bit. It was just awesome. I can’t even explain how fun it was to get back.”
Reveiz began this year still rehabbing his right knee and was not allowed to begin contact drills until an April 6 practice, which was near the end of the team’s 15 spring practices. He knew the mental reps he was getting watching from the sidelines could only teach him so much about the new defensive scheme.
“The biggest thing for me, what I was worried about the most, (was) that I need these reps,” Reveiz said following the April practice. “It’s a new defense (under defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox), I need where it’s fast paced to get looks.
“The first hit, we did a (running) backs-on-(linebackers) blitz period, and I wasn’t even trying to do a move,” he said. “I just wanted to run over somebody. It was just awesome to get that first hit and be back out there going full speed.”
Along with Reveiz, outside linebacker Savion Frazier was held out of most of spring practice after suffering a similar knee injury last season. Linebackers LaMarcus Thompson and Greg King also were injured during portions of last year and this spring and left the unit depleted.
The amount of injuries and lack of depth forced coaches to convert Austin Johnson from fullback to linebacker.
Johnson drew praises from fellow teammates and coaches during spring practice, but he gives Reveiz a lot of the credit for helping him adjust to the position he hadn’t played since high school.
“Nick has been great,” Johnson said after one of the practices in March. “You can ask him anything. It’s like having another coach out there (on the field).”
The former Farragut star will continue to rehab and improve his surgically repaired right knee and is expected to be able to perform at full speed when fall camp begins in August. 
“Practices are really important for me to get,” Reveiz said. “Even though I’ve played in the SEC and things like that, I still really feel like I need to get out here and practice. It just bites at me, being out here and not being able to do everything I can.”