KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As some of the rocks on the defensive line have grown and matured over the years, it kickstarted the same development among the rest of the young and has facilitated a culture change in the right direction.

“I think it’s becoming contagious. They’re not being afraid to call one another out. That’s what real leadership is, it’s just being willing to be different, be out front and be able to take a stand,” said defensive line coach Rodney Garner, “Talk is cheap, and you have to be able to walk the walk. Nobody wants to hear you talk about it when you’re not doing it. Being able to lead by example, being that pacesetter, getting there early, staying late, attention to detail, those are the things that it’s going to take.”

Entering into his fourth season with the Vols, Bryson Eason is a guy who has seen the emphasis on holding each other accountable come to be.

“Tyler [Baron] has been a great leader. Big O [Omari Thomas] has been a great leader for us inside the room, just holding everybody in that room accountable and making sure that we’re all doing what we’re supposed to do where we’re supposed to be. It’s the little things like that. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a mean, tough guy. They’re leaders, but they show love. They lead the way. Their energy and their positivity just makes everybody else follow their lead,” said Eason.