Malik's memorable media day

HOOVER, Ala. — There’s a reason media who cover Tennessee got pretty excited when learning that defensive tackle Malik Jackson was one of the three Volunteers chosen to participate in this year’s SEC Media Days.

Tennessee's Malik Jackson tries to shove Georgia's Aaron Murray out of bounds last season in Sanford Stadium.

It has nothing to do with the All-SEC senior’s performance on the field.

Jackson, a California native who transferred to UT from Southern California before last season, acted like himself Thursday afternoon at the Wynfrey Hotel.

In other words, he was hilarious.

The loquacious Jackson served up 30 minutes of fun for anyone within earshot, and here’s the best of the best.

MALIK JACKSON

On this being called the SEC’s ‘Year of the Running Back’...
“It is what it is. I feel like they need to start paying attention to the other guys. They couldn’t be anything without an offensive line, you know what I mean. Defensive line ... I do it all by myself, you know what I mean? They can boost them up, but we’ll see when they come and play us how they do.”

On why he calls Tennessee coach Derek Dooley ‘Double-D’ instead of ‘Coach Dooley’...
Derek Dooley ... Dooley ... I don't know, I like calling him Double-D. It's just a little bit ... it’s more in my character.”

On junior All-SEC safety Janzen Jackson’s return to the team after withdrawing from school in January for ‘undisclosed personal reasons’...
“Janzen’s a big part of our defense, you know, and we’re glad to have him back. But at the same time, we’ve got a lot of guys who want to compete for that job and who want to play. Janzen Jackson’s not our only safety back there. We have a lot of young guys, and we brought in a lot of guys, so whoever wins the job wins the job. It’s not set it stone. I’m ready for some competition in this thing.”

On what he’s expecting from Vols JUCO All-America defensive tackle signee Maurice Couch...
“Just dominance. He came in with a lot of hype. Coach (Dooley) wants him to do big things, and I see him working hard, but you can’t tell anything until you throw on the pads. We’ll see what we’ve got in Mo Couch when we put on the pads pretty soon.”

On the importance of UT signing Couch...
“I feel it was (really) important. Coaches made a big deal about it. When we were recruiting him, he made me and Corey Miller hang out with him and just try to get him to come up here, and we did our job. We’ll see what he can do.”

On the players’ expectations for Couch...
“He’s gotten a lot more quiet. He was talking, but he wasn’t putting in any work at any time. Now that he got here, he’s all dead tired and not being able to finish the workouts and stuff. He’s realized what he got into, you know what I’m saying? It’s not JUCO. It’s not high school. It’s a whole other level of football. I think he’s become a little bit more humble and just realize the expectations aren’t going to be what they are when you first get here.”

On Tennessee’s incoming freshmen in summer workouts...
“They’re all looking good. I haven’t really gotten to look at them too much. I still just call them freshmen. I don’t know. I don’t even know half their names. But they’re coming along pretty well. Plus, we really won’t know anything until we get in pads. You can’t do anything in 7-on-7, like tackling or hitting. We’ll see when we put on the pads, but all the freshmen are looking good and looking like they can help. There’s going to be a lot of competition this year.”

On whether anyone on the defensive line can out-sprint him now that defensive end Chris Walker is gone...
“Pretty much nobody. You’ve had Jacques (Smith) and Corey (Miller) try me a few times, but I put that to rest. Ben (Martin) hasn’t stepped up yet, so whenever he gets back better from those 20 injuries of his, he can try. Pretty much, the top three guys on the D-line is me, me and me. Everybody else can kind of fall behind. Whenever they want a challenge, they can challenge. (Smith) has asked me, but I’ve told him he needs to let his foot heal before he tries me, so he doesn’t have any excuses when I beat him. His time is coming soon, though. He’ll learn what I can do.”

On whether Tennessee sophomore nose guard Daniel Hood has cut his long blonde hair and beard this summer...
“I don’t think he’s ever going to cut that hair. He keeps it shaggy. Yeah, he look like Thor.”

On big Tennessee true freshman offensive lineman Antonio Richardson...
“He’s a big specimen, a big guy. I feel like he can do a lot for this team, this O-line, in his years coming up. He had a surgery or injury. But besides his frame, he reminds me of TYRUS SMITH from the University of Southern California. He’s big, athletic and ready to pound some people in the dirt. I can’t wait to see what he has.”

On the importance of defensive line play in the SEC...
“If you don’t have a strong defensive line, you’re going to be back with the safeties on run plays, and that’s not good for anybody. Coach (Ron McKeefery) has got us in the weight room, and we’ve all committed to his weight program, and we’re just ... I feel like we’re going to be an unstoppable D-line come this season.”

On Dooley saying South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore is the SEC’s best running back...
“I believe Tauren Poole is pretty much one of the best. Lattimore, don’t get me wrong, he’s a good running back, but he’s only a sophomore. He still has a lot of improvement to do, and you can’t judge somebody off of one year. I feel like Tauren Poole’s put a lot of good work in, and I feel like he’s one of the better running backs in the league, and I feel like he’s going to make his (case) known, that’s he’s one of the best running backs up there.”

On who is the toughest SEC running back to tackle...
“I’d have to say the one from Alabama — Trent Richardson. He’s a workhorse. He never gives up easy. He’s not easy to tackle, but I feel like once you just hit him in the mouth a few times and just get him knowing that you’re there, ...that he’ll soften up. But he’s just a workhorse. He never gives up. He breaks tackles. He never goes down with one guy. I think he’s just one of the (SEC’s) best running backs.”

On Tennessee’s best NCAA Football 2012 video game player...
“The O-line is pretty good. They do that a lot. I don’t know. I really don’t blame the game too much, to be honest with you. But the guys in Gibbs (Hall), the young guys, the O-line ... probably one of the O-linemen. Probably Ja’Wuan James. He’s probably take it. He talks a lot. I’ve still got to go up to his room and talk to him during camp, you know what I’m saying? We’ll see how that goes. Ja’Wuan James is probably the biggest trash-talker on the whole O-line.”

On Tennessee sophomore offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James being a huge person with a baby face...
“I mean, you do kind of forget he’s a grown man when he looks like a little boy (in the face). You kind of get used to it — you know, his size and his face — but you still look at him like, ‘Are you serious right now with this smack?’ He’s real legit, though. But you just look at him like, ‘What?’”

On whether any of Tennessee’s offensive lineman avoid trash talk...
“No. They all talk. Probably with the exception of maybe (junior tackle) Dallas (Thomas), and maybe one other guy, they’re just yappy.”

On Tennessee’s offensive linemen doing everything together...
“I kind of admire the O-linemen, because they stick together through thick and thin. They wait for each other before they go on the field. They do everything together. They eat together, they play together, so I just kind of admire them. They’re just one. They’re growing together. But when one talks stuff, all of them talk stuff.”

On whether Tennessee’s defensive line takes ‘D-Line Pride’ to combat the ‘O-Line Pride’ on the other side...
“We do, but we’re not that serious with it. They’re serious, man. They’re like diehard, like, ‘We don’t do anything without them.’ With us it’s like, ‘They’ll come when they come.’ It’s like own-man status. We’re not as serious as they are with their stuff.”

On Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray...
“He’s just another guy. You know, last game (against Georgia), we were still thinking about LSU, so they got off pretty easy last time. I mean, as far as him, watching that game, I felt like he had a lot of potential. He did a lot of good things against us that we let him do. We’ll see when we actually go into there into a Georgia game with a clear head and being real competitive and not worrying about what happened. We’ll see the outcome of that.”

On whether he was happy the NCAA changed fourth-quarter, run-off rules after last season’s bizarre Music City Bowl loss to North Carolina...
“It doesn’t matter now. We still lost. I wish they’d ... I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. We’re not going to get too much more into that. I’m happy they changed the rule for the future guys, but we still have an ‘L’ on our record for that. It is what it is. I’m happy we opened their eyes to the issue that they have in the rules, but we still got an ‘L.’

On what he does with his free time if he doesn’t tweet, doesn’t spend much time on Facebook and doesn’t play the college football video game...
“I play video games. I play FIFA (Soccer). It’s my favorite game. It really is. That’s pretty much all I do, play FIFA ... and do homework. FIFA and homework.”

On his favorite team to play with in FIFA...
“I play with Tottenham. I play with Inter (Milan). I play with Bayern Munich. Tottenham’s good, but they’re not the best. I know people who play with Real Madrid and Barcelona all day. That’s cheating. That’s cheating. As far as national teams, I play with Holland, the Netherlands.”

On whether NCAA players should be able to sell their game-used jerseys and other things with their names on it...
“I mean ... if the give it to us, it’s ours. We should be able to do what we want with it. You’ve got coaches making millions, and players wondering what they’re going to eat towards the end of the month, because we’re not getting paid. It’s kind of tough, but I feel like if they give it to us, and it has my name on the back of the jersey, I should be able to do whatever I want with it. (Georgia’s A.J. Green) maybe came upon it the wrong way, or illegally, or whatever the NCAA feels like, but I just feel like if it’s yours, you should be able to do what you want with it. If you want to sell it for some extra change to be able to help your family, you should be able to do that.”

On whether he would sell game-used UT jerseys and other things if the NCAA allowed him to...
“If I was able to, and I needed the money that bad, then I probably would. But I like my memories. I haven’t sold my Rose Bowl ring. I kept my Rose Bowl jersey. I kept my Music City Bowl jersey. I like it and give it all to my mom, but I feel like if people need the money for a good reason, and it’s their stuff, they should be able to do whatever they want with it.”

Contact Wes Rucker at wrucker@247sports.com, www.twitter.com/wesrucker247 or www.facebook.com/wesrucker247

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