Wiedmer: Corey Levin's third Titans season should become his best

Wiedmer: Corey Levin's third Titans season should become his best

May 15th, 2019 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

Mark Wiedmer

Mark Wiedmer

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press

Miranda Beene, her son Tripp Stewart and her mother Kimberly Duplissey arrived at Academy Sports and Outdoors at Hamilton Place before 4 p.m. Wednesday in order to be near the front of the line to welcome the Tennessee Titans to town.

Just for the record, the Titans Caravan bus didn't arrive until 5:33 p.m. after battling rush-hour traffic on its way in.

"I've been a huge Titans fan ever since they moved to Tennessee," a beaming Beene said of the NFL franchise formerly known as the Houston Oilers. "I really think they're going to have a great season this year."

If the Titans do, if they reach the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offensive lineman Corey Levin figures to be a major factor in that success. While that might not be the biggest reason he was part of this year's stop in the Scenic City, it was almost certainly a consideration.

"It's pretty cool," he said of Chattanooga being his first-ever caravan stop. "Anytime you get a chance to give back to a place that's been so good to you, it's special."

It was certainly special for Beene, Duplissey and Stewart, who got everything from footballs to jerseys to helmets to posters signed.

"It means a lot," said Stewart, who's about to enter the seventh grade at Berean Academy. "I can't wait to put this stuff in my basement."

Not that Levin was the only Titan to grace Academy's vast store, much to the delight of 100 or more fans. Dee Liner and Jonnu Smith also made the down-and-back trip from the Music City. Levin, though, was clearly the drawing card after starting several games down the stretch of the 2018 season.

"I'm a little more comfortable," said the former Moc, who is approaching his third preseason camp. "Just being around the players and coaches for a couple of years now. Just knowing that guys can trust me to make plays."

It could even be argued that because the organization has come to trust Levin, it is intrigued by who else the Mocs have produced who can help the Titans. When training camp opens in late July, Levin will be joined by fellow UTC alumni Isaiah Mack, Kareem Orr and Joseph Parker.

"The Titans are giving us four opportunities," Levin said. "Let's see what we can do with it."

Tennessee Titans guard Corey Levin warms up for a road game against the Buffalo Bills in October 2018.

Tennessee Titans guard Corey Levin warms up for...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Levin has always made the most of his opportunities to make a good impression, whether on the field or off.

Just ask Ron Hall, who has been the longtime public address announcer for Mocs football, softball and women's basketball when his frail heart isn't cheating death.

"When I had my (nearly) fatal heart attack, Corey was one of the first people to reach out to me," said Hall, whose heart was shocked back to life on that occasion. "When I missed having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner one year because I had to work, when the Mocs hosted a playoff game two days later at Finley, Corey's father showed up with a Tupperware container filled with an entire Thanksgiving feast. It's just a great, great family."

It has so far been a great, great offseason for the Titans, beginning with Nashville's hosting of the NFL draft in late April.

"I actually tried to stay away," Levin said. "They said 600,000 people rolled through there."

Of talk that the Music City might be in line to host a Super Bowl after that draft weekend success, Levin said, "Obviously, Nashville knows how to throw a party."

But do the Titans know how to get to that party? Can they return to pro football's biggest stage for the first time since the 1999 season?

"We're working every day to reach the Super Bowl, but everybody else is, too," Levin said. "Last year was very disappointing. We've got a great squad. If anything, last season has made us really hungry to get back (to the playoffs)."

Levin has always been hungry to improve every day he comes to work. It's one reason why the Dacula, Georgia, native prospered at UTC. It's been a key reason why the Titans coaching staff has embraced him from his first day in rookie camp.

"I play for my job," he said Wednesday. "Always."

If that work ethic figures to continue to make him a fixture on the Titans' active roster, it might also always earn him a spot with the Titans Caravan whenever it visits Chattanooga — especially if Levin's blocking can help lead the Titans back to the Super Bowl for the first time in two decades.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop (4) celebrates a field goal with guard Corey Levin during the first half of a road game against the Buffalo Bills in October 2018. Levin, a former UTC player and Georgia native, is preparing for his third season with the Titans and was among the players who visited Chattanooga on Wednesday as part of the NFL team's caravan stop.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.
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