KNOXVILLE -- University of Tennessee senior center Josh McNeil's football career might not be finished, after all.
McNeil, who started 35 consecutive games for the Volunteers before sitting out Saturday's win over Western Kentucky, said Wednesday he is doing "everything I can to get back as soon as possible" despite chronically injured knees.
First-year head coach Lane Kiffin watched McNeil go through individual drills Wednesday and sounded cautiously optimistic about the player's future.
"Josh did some stuff over there on the sleds," Kiffin said. "He's come back a lot quicker than anticipated, but we'll see how he responds, if he's sore tomorrow, and we'll continue to bring him along gradually.
"We want to make sure we don't re-injure it."
Former walk-on Cody Sullins started in McNeil's place Saturday and, according to Kiffin, graded out behind left tackle Chris Scott as the team's most effective offensive lineman. Sullins and McNeil were in a close competition for the starting spot before McNeil's latest setback.
More Humpday issues
Kiffin was less than pleased with the team's practice for a second consecutive Wednesday, but he remained hopeful his Vols would respond today as well as they did last Thursday.
"It was very similar to last week at this time," Kiffin said moments after Wednesday's practice. "We've got a lot of work to do. (Today) will be very critical for us.
"We need to come in focused (today) and really hone in on our game plan and get better. That was not as good a practice as we need to have. We need to have a better one (today)."
UT junior middle linebacker picked an ironic time to wear a T-shirt from IN-N-OUT Burger, a popular West Coast fast food chain based in the Los Angeles area.
He said the shirt -- which he wore to a Wednesday, pre-practice interview -- was a gift from offensive lineman Cody Pope, a San Diego native.
"It's just a coincidence," Reveiz said. "But now that you mentioned it ... yeah, that's pretty funny."
Pope, who is listed at second-team left guard but can play tackle or center in a pinch, said he had an ulterior motive for giving Reveiz the shirt.
"Reveiz never washes his clothes," Pope said with a smile. "Smells horrible."
Kiffin said senior defensive tackle Dan Williams has "really responded well" to the ongoing battle with redshirt freshman Montori Hughes for the starting position. Kiffin said Williams' practice week last week was his best since the new staff arrived in December.
Kiffin said junior wide receiver Gerald Jones (high ankle) made more progress Wednesday, but the coach wasn't ready to declare the team's leading returning receiver fit for Saturday's game against UCLA. "He knows our offense extremely well," Kiffin said. "He would be a guy that could probably play without even practicing."
Wide receiver Ted Meline from Miami committed to UT on Wednesday, giving the Vols an 18th public pledge for their 2010 signing class.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Meline had an impressive scholarship offer list that also included Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina, Boston College and South Florida. He is ranked a four-star player by Rivals.com, and a three-star player by Scout.com.