It didn't take long for Cam Sutton to make his name known within the Tennessee Volunteer football program in 2013.
The three-star cornerback from Jonesboro, Ga., was the first freshman to get the infamous black stripe removed from his helmet back in training camp, and from there, it was his year.
Sutton recorded 39 tackles, nine pass deflections and two interceptions – one of which he returned for a touchdown – in his freshman campaign en route to being named to the 2013 Freshman All-SEC coaches first team.
But with so much success in year one of his career, Sutton is looking to be even better in his sophomore season.
"My main goal this year is to be more physical and (being better at) tackling in space," Sutton said after Tuesday's practice on Haslam Field. "That's what the coaches have set forth on myself and what I have set forth for myself as my goals this year."
The defensive standout, however, isn't just taking on a larger role as a defensive back. He's also taking on the role of a mentor.
Sutton, who was forced into the starting lineup from day one, starting in all 12 of Tennessee's games last season, has helped groom early enrollees D'Andre Payne and Emmanuel Moseley – as well as freshman on the other side of the ball – who will also be forced into playing time in 2014.
"I'm big brother to all the young guys," said Sutton. "Even if it's offensive guys, I still kind of help them whether it's academics or on the football field. (I'm) always staying on top of them."
Moseley, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound freshman from Greensboro, N.C., has stood out to Sutton.
"He's a pretty hard worker," Sutton said. "He's just always in there trying to get into film. He's always coming to me or to the other (defensive backs) asking questions and he wants to work. We need those kinds of guys on the field."
No Stone left unturned
During Tennessee's Pro Day on Wednesday, former center James Stone will have his opportunity to impress NFL scouts with his talent as he attempts to be selected in May's NFL Draft.
In the Vols' spring practices, however, his replacement – Mack Crowder – has gotten the chance to fill the shoes of his NFL-hopeful predecessor.
But while Stone was a decorated offensive lineman in his four years at Tennessee, his most important role came as an on-field leader – like the rest of his departing lineman.
That role has now been passed to Crowder.
"It's nice, but I have to take over his leadership role, which is pretty difficult," said Crowder. "But I think I'm up for the challenge, so we'll see what happens."
In his three years behind Stone, the redshirt junior learned his fair share, including a trait UT head coach Butch Jones stresses more than anything: consistency.
"Just how to bring the intensity everyday," said Crowder of what Stone taught him. "He was great at just never having ups and downs.
"He was just consistent and that's one of the best things to be as an offensive linemen is consistent."
In Tuesday's practice, sophomore wide receiver Marquez North and senior cornerback Justin Coleman sported green, no-contact jerseys. Their status, however, was not mentioned following practice.
True freshman running back Jalen Hurd was also wearing a heavy brace on his left arm that he also wore in Saturday's scrimmage.