If Davis Tull hadn't suffered a broken femur in the second game of his senior season at Knoxville's Bearden High School, he might not be suiting up for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team this year.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Tull said he didn't begin playing football until he was in ninth grade, "and then I was just playing for fun," he said.
Following his junior season, during which he'd switched from wide receiver to defensive end, several Football Bowl Subdivision programs, including the University of Memphis, began taking an interest in the tall, athletic newcomer to the sport.
"It was after my junior season that my coach called me down to his office," Tull said. "I figured he was just going to say something about workouts, but there was a coach from Memphis there. I was like, 'What players do you want me to go get?' but my coach was like, 'No, he wants to talk to you.'"
Tull said he thought that was "weird," but that also was the point when he began to think about playing in college.
"All the schools basically told me to make a little highlight tape after the third game of my senior year and then we'll offer you," he said. "Then I broke [my leg] in my second game."
Tull was out for the season and had to have a titanium rod inserted in the leg. The FBS schools stopped calling after that, which opened the door for UTC.
The Mocs invited Tull to walk on last fall. Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield wanted him as a tight end, but defensive coordinator Adam Fuller got him on his side of the ball.
Tull made an immediate impression on the first day of workouts when he recorded a vertical leap of 40 1/2 inches. He also, thanks to the leg injury, had developed a lot of upper-body strength.
Injuries at defensive end nearly forced Tull into action last season, but he was able to redshirt and use the season to improve and learn. He was having a very good spring until he suffered a broken hand in the eighth practice.
With last season's sack leader Chris Donald no longer on the team, Tull has a chance to earn a starting spot and be a major factor on the end.
"I had to learn a lot when I got here," he said, "but it's come pretty natural."
The Mocs report for preseason practice on Aug. 3.