Defensive tackle “Big Charles” Mosley certainly wasn’t first going through some take-off drills. He was near the back of the line, struggling to get out of his stance a bit and clearly dealing with a fuel level close to empty after a two-hour plus practice.
But the fact that he’s even at that point is, in a sense, remarkable. Nine months earlier he was recovering from a car accident that he was fortunate to limp away from with only a broken tibia. A serious injury to some extent, but a far better outcome than what might’ve been if circumstances had been just a touch different.
Still, getting in football shape is a huge challenge for any 370-ish pound player, but much more so coming off a broken bone and the ensuing surgery. That’s the challenge this spring for Mosley as he gets his first look on the defensive side of the ball. And it’s certainly going to be a work in progress for the Brighton, Tenn., redshirt freshman, but coaches are encouraged by what they’ve seen, even if there’s been some struggle along the way.
“I have been encouraged,” said coach Butch Jones.” I give Charles Mosley a lot of credit. He broke his leg in August and he is out on the football field giving everything he has each and everyday. He is probably about 65 to 70% but he is bringing it. He hasn’t missed practice or any reps. I give that young man a lot of credit and I do see him progressing. He is 375 pounds and when he gets his hands inside when he learns how to play with leverage I am encouraged. I see glimpses of that being through practice seven right now.”
“Charles – just everyday we weren’t sure where he was at in his progression from injury,” added defensive line coach Steve Stripling. “So it’s great that he’s out there, and I’ve kind of told him to be smart – to manage himself sometimes. Thus far, he’s doing great, he’s hanging in there.”
Defensive tackle is his home for now as the coaches continue to craft a long-term plan for him. Possibly better suited as a true nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme, Mosley liked his opportunities at Tennessee in the 4-3. There’s some history – and company – on his side. The Vols are just two years removed from utilizing all 6-7, 370 pounds of Daniel McCullers, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the 4-3 as a defensive tackle.
He also will be joined on the 2015 roster by freshmen Shy Tuttle, listed (perhaps on the lighter side) at 315 pounds for now, and Kahlil McKenzie, who will likely show up to Knoxville well north of 300 pounds. While his health and conditioning are still under progress, his sheer size and strength can’t be denied. Mosley was pitted against rising redshirt sophomore Austin Sanders in the Circle of Life drill on Tuesday and was simply too much for him. The two collided and hit a stalemate momentarily, but Big Charles simply couldn’t be moved. Sanders battled, but Mosley’s weight was too much, and he was able to drive him backwards and secure the win for the defense on that rep.
Jones has mentioned the possibility of him getting Mosley look on the offensive line as well this spring, but that hasn’t come to fruition yet. Defensive coordinator John Jancek, who likes what he’s seen from him on the defensive side thus far, said it will be a day-by-day process of seeing how he rehabs and progresses before the Vols figure out the best way to utilize him.
“He’s been working hard, rehabbing, they had to go in and do some things to the leg to try to get him ready even to this point, but it’s just a matter of time,” Jancek said. “It’s just him working hard, trying to get back out there.”