Former University of Tennessee linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin tallied 101 tackles as a sophomore and 105 as a junior, but his senior season was derailed last September by a left shoulder injury that required surgery.
Reeves-Maybin played in Tennessee's first three games — wins over Appalachian State, Virginia Tech and Ohio University — before exiting in the first quarter against Florida (a 38-28 win for the Volunteers) and never returning. His talents did not go unnoticed by the NFL, with the Detroit Lions selecting the 6-foot, 230-pounder in the fourth round of April's draft.
With his Tennessee days behind but far from forgotten, Reeves-Maybin was a guest this week on "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 FM.
Q: How many times have you reminded fellow rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis (who played at Florida) about the score of last year's game in Knoxville?
A: "It's funny, because we do talk about that all the time. He's my roommate, so we talk about it a lot, but it's all fun at the end of the day. We're going to be talking about that for years to come."
Q: Growing up in Clarksville, did you like the Tennessee Titans, the old St. Louis Rams or another team?
A: "I was mostly a follower of players and not teams."
Q: What are your chances of playing right out of the gate with the Lions?
A: "We'll have to wait and see on that. I'm just trying to come out every day and get better and take in all the knowledge that I can. It's a whole different system, and these NFL defenses are complex, so I've got to stay in the playbook and keep progressing every day."
Q: How are you health-wise?
A: "I'm feeling good. I will be full go when we get back to camp."
Q: What was more painful last year, the injury itself or having to be on the sideline and watching your team compete without you?
A: "Definitely being on the sideline. I put in a lot of work last summer and was pumped for my senior year, so it definitely stunk being on the sideline."
Q: Had Tennessee stayed healthy last season, how high was the ceiling?
A: "I don't think there was a ceiling. We felt we could take it as high as we needed to. Unfortunately the injury bug got us. It gets everybody, but it got us more than most of the other teams. We still made the best of our opportunities, and it kind of is what it is now."
Q: What is your reaction when you see Butch Jones on "hot seat" lists?
A: "It's the SEC, and everybody is on the hot seat. There might be two or three guys in the SEC who are not on the hot seat, and the rest of them are. At the end of the day, you've just got to win. If you meet the expectations in five straight games and then don't in one, then you're on the hot seat. Everybody is on it."
Q: Will Tennessee have to take a step back this season, or can the Vols win the SEC East?
A: "I don't think they will have to take a step back at all. There will just be new faces and new guys stepping up. I think they're going to hit the ground running and surprise some people, so the expectations will not drop off."
Q: What was your favorite win with Tennessee and your toughest defeat?
A: My favorite win was probably Georgia my junior year. All four years, the Georgia game went down to the wire, and I think that was the best one. My worst defeat was maybe the Oklahoma game that same year. I'll always feel that was one we should have pulled out."
Q: Turning to our rapid fire, if you're walking down the street and somebody calls you a "Champion of Life," what are you doing?
A: "I'll probably just chuckle and say, 'Go Vols.'"
Q: Who was your favorite linebacker growing up?
A: "Probably Keith Bulluck, just because I grew up watching some Titans games. I like the way he played."
Q: If you had to do it again knowing you would get hurt, would you have left Tennessee after your junior season?
A: "No. Not at all."
Q: Who is the best athlete of all time with a hyphenated name?
A: "Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar)."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.