Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers has made tremendous strides in his final collegiate season, Volunteers coach Butch Jones said, but the senior's consistency in performance still isn't where it needs to be.
And if it's not yet quite to Jones' liking, one wonders if it will be to the NFL's.
McCullers (6-foot-8, 351 pounds) ranks as the No. 8 senior college prospect on NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt's Hot 100 list. With potential as either a nose guard in a 3-4 scheme or as a 4-3 defensive tackle, McCullers has the size and strength to be a dominant presence inside. But dominating down after down is a taller task.
"We always talk about pride in performance, and in football, especially in the offensive and defensive lines, you always want to dominate your opponent. It all starts with a mentality, it all starts with a work ethic, it all starts with that strain to get off blocks and create separation. A lot goes into it," Jones said. "The big thing for Dan, in finishing his career out here, he's made tremendous strides moving forward. The big thing with him is consistency, overall consistency in his performance, each and every day, whether it be in practice or on the game field, and a high level of effort and mentality that it takes to play winning football."
Jones gave a very similar answer when asked about McCullers' development earlier in the season. Still, for an interior defensive lineman, his production hasn't been bad. McCullers has played in every game, making 26 tackles, 4.5 for losses, and a team-high four quarterback hurries. He's also blocked a kick, recovered a fumble and deflected a pass.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.