By Alex Norman
Tennessee’s offense often needs a safety valve in the passing game, and one that can assist in the blocking scheme. Junior tight end Ethan Wolf fits both categories quite nicely.
“I love being physical and being able to make plays on the football (field),” said Wolf. “The fact that you can incorporate that into one position is something I enjoyed playing… It can be a challenge however as just being sure of your own assignment isn’t enough. It’s something I enjoy, having that on my shoulders. It’s really fun being able to be physical and then try to make a play on the ball the next play.
Wolf caught 23 passes last season, the same number of receptions as in 2014. At 6’6” and 245 pounds, Wolf can be a matchup problem for opposing defensive backs, and says he will spend the off-season working on increasing his explosiveness off the line. He will also be spending more time in the weight room.
“You can never be too strong and I feel that if I get stronger my game will improve a great amount,” said Wolf. “I am nowhere where I want to be right now as a tight end, and I don’t think I’ll ever be there because you always want to improve your craft. Those are key things I need to work on and I will attack those in the summer.”
The next few months will be huge for Wolf and his teammates, as they adjust to life as the favorites in the SEC East. Tennessee hasn’t won the division since 2007, and hasn’t brought a conference title back to Knoxville since 1998. With the absurd amount of returning talent, expectations for the Vols are reaching new heights. Wolf is among those trying to keep everything in stride.
“It gets kind of tough sometimes, especially when you run into fans. It’s not their fault but all they are thinking about is next fall and where are we gonna go,” said Wolf. “They talk about expectations, and it is kind of hard not to look ahead. Personally, if you don’t focus on the day at hand, you kinda lose it. I can’t speak for everyone but what I am doing today… if I’m thinking about a national championship or an SEC championship… it isn’t going to be won today if I’m thinking about it. Obviously you work your butt off to get better because the work we do collectively will contribute hopefully to those championships. But it is kinda tough because it is all of our goals and you gotta grind it out and stay focused. We’ve got a lot of teammates and coaches that will help you keep your mind focused on one day at a time and not overlook it.”
Ethan Wolf still has two more seasons to play at Tennessee, but Vols fans should get used to the sight of a Wolf at tight end a bit longer than that. Younger brother Eli is on the roster as well, playing the same position as a redshirt freshman.
“It’s cool because we played together in high school because we are only one and a half years apart,” said Wolf. “You talk about caring for teammates like your brothers, and it takes that to a whole new meaning. I’d do anything for Eli and he’d do anything for me. I have that same feeling towards anyone on the team. When you feel about them like your brother then you have good comradery. It is fun to compete and help Eli because it isn’t something that he has done a whole lot of in terms of line blocking. He’s doing a good job and opening some eyes. He doesn’t have all the weight on yet, but he plays like he is 240 pounds. When he gets up there there is no telling what he will be able to do.”