The best thing going for Chris Donald, according to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive ends coach Marcus West, "is he can fly."
Donald, the redshirt sophomore transfer from Tennessee, has worked at defensive end during the Mocs' past three practices this spring after starting out at linebacker. There's a lot of room for improvement, West said, but Donald also has a lot of potential.
"If we can just get him more confident in where he's going and get him playing as fast as he is, then he'll be awesome," West said.
Splitting time at left end with Jaron Norfleet, Donald was credited with four tackles during Saturday's scrimmage. He also knocked down a pass by his former UT teammate, B.J. Coleman.
"I feel like I did OK," the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Donald said. "I have stuff that I need to improve on, and I will with time. I've just been doing this for three days, so I'm just going to keep on getting better. That's all I can do, just keep grinding.
In his three years with the Vols, Donald moved back and forth between linebacker and defensive end. He said he's eager to get settled at one position.
"I'm getting used to it and learning all the stuff," he said of the switch. "It's not a big difference because I played it at Tennessee, but there's some stuff I've got to get better at.
"This is where the coaches think I fit in best at. I'm going to work hard regardless of whichever position they want me at, and go out there with a good attitude every day and work to get better."
Donald's speed off the edge makes him a very effective pass rusher, but there's still a lot of work to be done to get him equally effective against the run. That will come with time, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said. For now, Donald, a five-star recruit out of Huntingdon High School, is making plays with his natural abilities.
"There's a long way to go, but (I'm) excited because you put him in the first day of practice and you watch him, and when he does things our coaches get no credit for any of that," Fuller said. "We don't get any credit, which is good because you want to see those things (natural abilities) because if you don't see them then you probably won't get them for years."
The Mocs are scheduled to conduct their seventh practice of the spring today at Finley Stadium.