2018 NFL Draft

Dontari Poe, DT

School: Memphis  |  Conference: C-USA
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Memphis, TN
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 346 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
Latest News
04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Chiefs picks: Round 1/11 - Dontari Poe, NT, 6-3, 346, Memphis...A developmental pick, Poe has the attributes that head coach/defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel seeks for a nose tackle. But Poe has very limited experience playing the position. - The Sports Xchange

04/30/2012 - Nose tackle Dontari Poe was one of the stars of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine in February, turning in physical performance numbers that were remarkable given his weight of 346 pounds. He ran a 4.98 time in the 40-yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 44 consecutive times. Pioli abhors the term "workout warrior" and although Poe was the No. 1 nose tackle on the K.C. draft board before the Combine, he had the personnel staff dig into the tapes again after Poe got so much attention. "Those Combine numbers forced us to go back and do more work, to make sure what we were seeing before the Combine were accurately evaluated," Pioli said. "When we got done, he was still the No. 1 nose tackle on our board. - The Sports Xchange

04/30/2012 - The Chiefs say they had two solid offers to move down and out of the No. 11 spot in the first round in what turned into a flurry of trades. But they did not feel they could still guarantee themselves getting Dontari Poe, so they stayed put and watched the activity go off around them. "We didn't want to get so far down that it was going to put the chance to get Dontari in jeopardy," Pioli said. - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - 2012 NFL DRAFT: PICK-BY-PICK ANALYSIS: 11. Kansas City Chiefs: NT Dontari Poe, Memphis -- A 346-pound dancing bear of a defensive lineman, Poe has freakish athletic ability for his size, but wasn't a major factor in the Tigers' defense. Head coach Romeo Crennel can draw a lot out of him, but the Chiefs have missed on talented defensive linemen before. - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - A native of Memphis, Poe had limited recruiting interest coming out of Wooddale High School. Recruiting services rated him a two-star prospect. He took a redshirt season in 2008 and then played in 35 games over the next three seasons, starting 30 of those along the defensive line. His production was limited, as he had 101 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also forced four fumbles for a Memphis team that went 5-31 in his three seasons. Crennel said the fact Poe was moved all around the defensive line did not allow him to establish himself at a single position. "He played the 9 (technique), 7, 5, 3, 2, 1 and he played over the center at nose tackle," coach Romeo Crennel said. "He did that every game, not just every once in awhile. We are going to put him at one position, nose tackle, where we'll let him play and learn the spot." That was very good news for the 21-year old Poe, who was in New York at Radio City Music Hall for the Draft when he got the phone call from the Chiefs that he was their man. "That sounds good to me," Poe said. "It will be good to play just one spot, nose guard, and learn the ins and outs of the position. I'm eager to get it started. It wasn't a problem playing (multiple positions), but it's always better when you play one thing." - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - Since the Chiefs operation was overhauled after the 2008 season, they've played the 3-4 defense. But for the next three seasons, that defense lacked one of the prime ingredients for any successful 34 scheme -- a big, space-eating nose tackle. They finally filled that giant hole on Thursday with the selection of nose tackle Dontari Poe, a 6-3, 346-pound athletic specimen from the University of Memphis as the fourth first-rounder in the Scott Pioli-Chiefs' personnel marriage. Poe becomes the third first-round choice used on a defensive lineman by the Chiefs in the last five seasons, joining Glenn Dorsey (2008) and Tyson Jackson (2009). Those two guys came out of Louisiana State and were trained in the rugged Southeastern Conference. For Poe, his college career was in Conference USA, where the best he could do in three seasons is earn second-team all-conference honors as a senior. - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - Poe gained universal attention around the league after his performance in the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. In physical testing there, he was among the most athletic performers no matter position. At 346 pounds, he was timed in 4.98 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and he bench pressed 225 pounds 44 consecutive times. His vertical jump was 29 1/2 inches, despite his weight and he ran the 20-yard shuttle in under five seconds. But Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said it wasn't Poe's Combine performance that drew the Chiefs to him. "Our scouts' reports talked about how good he was as a player and his ability," Crennel said. "Those reports came before the Combine. What he did at the Combine perked us up even more." - The Sports Xchange

04/26/2012 - Dontari Poe is one of the bigger enigmas in the 2012 NFL Draft. He wowed at the combine but his struggles in college are absolutely concerning for any general manager holding a first-round pick and needing a defensive tackle. It's possible, as my colleague Clark Judge recently wrote, that Poe is the guy who'll fall down draft boards. But that won't cause him to become more motivated than he already is, as Poe said on Wednesday that he's got plenty of motivation thanks to all the pre-draft talk. "As of right now, I have an unlimited amount of motivation because of what I've been hearing through the press," Poe said. "It will motivate me more. But to say that it will be the ultimate factor in me trying to rip someone's head off because of the draft, you know, I was planning on doing that anyway." So ... that quote was kind of terrifying. Poe is a big dude and he's had everything about his game examined thoroughly over the past few weeks and months. Mocks around combine time had him going to the Panthers or another defensive-tackle needy team in the top-10 area. Now, our mocks primarily have him going in the 20-30 range. There are a couple teams that could stop a freefall for Poe, however. That includes the Jets and Cowboys, both of whom have a Ryan brother on staff that might be interested in turning Poe into a disruptive defensive tackle. But Poe said on Wednesday he never worked out for either one of them and/or met them in an individual capacity. - Will Brinson, CBS Sports

04/26/2012 - ROB RANG'S TOP 50 PLAYERS OF THE 2012 NFL DRAFT: 20. Dontari Poe, DT/NG, Memphis*: Producing a workout that has earned comparisons to that of Baltimore Ravens' star Haloti Ngata's when he left the University of Oregon, Poe's scheme-versatility and unbelievable upside have scouts excited. Poe isn't as explosive on tape as his eye-popping athleticism might lead you to believe, however, as he too often raises his pads on contact, negating his own strength. Someone will gamble on him early based on his upside, but Poe remains precisely that - a gamble. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

04/19/2012 - Although there is only a little more than a week to go until the first round, and draft boards for most teams have been fairly solidified, some prospects are still being much debated in war rooms, and few more so than Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe. As noted here last week, and by several other draft-related sites, Poe isn't particularly productive on tape. But the equally-discussed element of his game is whether Poe, who has almost exclusively played in a 4-3 front, can transition to 3-4 nose tackle. "He's not classic," said the general manager of a 3-4 team. "If you want a guy to just eat up blockers, and not worry about the other stuff ... I don't know if he's the guy." Then again, Baltimore tackle/end Haloti Ngata, the veteran to whom Poe is frequently compared, is hardly a nose tackle, and he's been chosen to the Pro Bowl four times. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

04/06/2012 - He went to Memphis because he wanted to stay home, close to his mother and brothers. He also was academically ineligible as a freshman. Poe earned the requisite 24 hours and was eligible for the 2009 season. He started 30 games during three seasons for two head coaches on teams that went a combined 5-31. Poe opted to leave with one year of eligibility remaining. "I don't think we used him quite the way we should have," said former Tigers defensive line coach Mike DuBose, who coached the Alabama defensive line from 1990 to 1996 and was the Crimson Tide head coach from 1997 to 2000. "We didn't put him in the best situations, but he never complained about it ... "He's a great young man and potentially the best defensive lineman that I've ever coached. I've never been around anybody as big, strong, explosive and flexible. To me, the flexibility part is the part that's rare." The quickness doesn't hurt. Neither did his 44 bench press reps of 225 pounds at the combine. To prepare, Poe spent two months training at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix, learning how to properly start the 40-yard dash, how to stay low and drive his legs through the first 10 yards, how to keep his legs up and lean forward through the middle 20 yards and how to fight through the fatigue and finish strong in the last 10 yards. "It was really something that I kind of knew I could do, I just had to do it at the right time at the combine," Poe said. "Proud of it. Proud that I did what I came to do. I was excited about it. A lot of people were shocked and surprised about it." - Ashley Fox, ESPN

04/06/2012 - Former University of Memphis defensive standout Dontari Poe continues to impress and carry the mantle of his school. Poe, who seared his name into national consciousness by proving himself to be one of the three strongest men in college football at a camp last summer, has skyrocketed up draft boards around the NFL. He is currently projected to be picked ninth in this year's draft, by the Carolina Panthers. If the predictions are correct, it would make Poe the highest-drafted Tiger since DeAngelo Williams (27th pick in 2006 by the same Panthers) and tie him for highest draft position ever by a Tiger. Defensive back Keith Simpson was the No. 9 pick in the 1978 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, currently the highest draft postion in the history of the school's football program. What's more, Poe is guaranteed an unprecedented accomplishment: he has been invited to the most exclusive Draft watch party in America, the NFL green room on Draft Day, April 26, 2012. We found this out when we bumped into Poe at the Blue-Gray spring exhibition game Saturday at the Liberty Bowl. When asked if he had special plans as to where he was going to watch the draft, the mountainous Poe (6'5", 350) dropped his head and said shyly: "Well, yeah, I have some plans," he began. "I've been invited to the green room." - Leroy Watson, TigerSportsReport.com

04/05/2012 - Hard to gauge some of the reports about Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe of late, some of which have panned his college production, and suggested that he is more a workout warrior than an immediate impact player. But the teams with legitimate interest in Poe, both 4-3 and 3-4 clubs, don't see him slipping out of the top 10-12 picks. Those teams agree Poe has some maturing to do, and may need a fire lit under him, but they'd grab him in a heartbeat. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

04/02/2012 - Dontari Poe put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combines that will likely earn him a whole lot of money later this month when his name gets called earlier than expected during the draft. Poe, a 6-foot-4, 346-pound giant of a man from Memphis, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds and lifted 225 pounds 44 times. "He's the most athletic over 300-pound man in this draft, or a lot of other drafts," one scout said. "He's phenomenally gifted athletically." Well, the numbers speak to that. He ran faster than some linebackers and lifted as much as anyone. Now, the question is, can he play football, since that's what some team is going to pay him millions to do. "He'll be overdrafted," one personnel man said. "He did all of that at the Combine, so some team will take him way higher than he should go. I mean watch him play, just watch. He didn't do anything. And he wasn't playing at a very high level, either. "All I know is he had one sack last year and it came against Austin Peay. You probably didn't even know Austin Peay had a football team." Poe will be one of the first defensive tackles to come off the board when the draft starts. Here's a look at the rest of the top tackles and defensive ends. - Mark Eckel, The Times of Trenton

03/13/2012 - NFL DRAFT SCOUT TOP DOWN DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis, 6-4, 346, 1-2...Poe ran and jumped like a little man at the combine, but showed the strength of the big guy that he is. He had 44 reps with 225 pounds and ran 40 yards in an unofficial time of 4.98 seconds, which would be acceptable for a linebacker or tight end 100 pounds lighter. Poe is obviously naturally gifted with size and strength, although some scouts are concerned that he doesn't always play up to his ability. "Dontari is a powerful, powerful young man who has the potential to be the best defensive lineman I ever coached," offered Memphis defensive line coach Mike DuBose, who saw some pretty good DLs in his days as head coach at Alabama, where he won an SEC championship in 1999. DuBose says Poe often over-thinks what he is doing rather than just doing it and needs to just rely on his abilities more. That probably accounts for the reason Poe doesn't always explode off the line. But DuBose says Poe is a dedicated athlete in the weight room and on the field, where he will still need to refine some techniques to maximize his God-given abilities at the next level. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

02/29/2012 - Last year, Phil Taylor of Baylor was viewed by many scouts as the premier nose tackle in the draft pool. Taylor was selected 21st overall by Cleveland, which had begun the transition to a 4-3 under new coordinator Dick Jauron, and was paired with another very good nose tackle, veteran Ahtyba Rubin, inside. Some observers questioned the sagacity of the Browns but, a year later, no one can argue with the results. Despite winning only four games, Cleveland finished 10th in the league in overall defense. Taylor recorded 59 tackles and four sacks, only 1.5 sacks fewer than he had in his college career. Although he struggled at times early in the season, Taylor became a force inside, once he improved using his hands more than just his size. "(The position) never really mattered as much to me as it did some other people," Taylor said. Poe might not duplicate the Taylor move, but there is certainly a chance, and coaches and coordinators from 4-3 teams were intrigued by putting him in the inside of their line. "The guy is pretty rare," said Seattle coordinator Gus Bradley. For his part, Poe doesn't seem to care where, and in what kind of defense, he plays. He cited Pittsburgh perennial Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton as a player he followed - and the Steelers have been mentioned as a potential landing spot -- but also pointed out that he played various fronts in college. And that he even lined up at end in some defenses. There are a few scouts who insisted to The Sports Xchange the last few days that Poe might be able to log some snaps at end in a 3-4. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

02/29/2012 - 2012 NFL COMBINE RISERS: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: No defensive lineman at the Combine showed a more exciting combination of size (6-4, 346), speed (4.98) and strength (44 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 2012 Combine best) than Poe. Teams fully acknowledge he's raw, but one of them will gladly invest a first-round pick in his upside. - Rob Rang/NFLDraftScout & Derek Harper/The Sports Xchange

02/29/2012 - Although he was officially designated as a defensive tackle by NFL combine officials, many scouts felt even before the workouts that Dontari Poe of Memphis best projected as a nose tackle at the pro level. Without question one of the prospects who generated the most buzz at the scouting combine, Poe exhibited such freakish skills that it doesn't seem to matter now what kind of front is utilized as a "base" defense by the team that selects him. The massive Poe (6-feet-3 1/2, 346 pounds), who registered 44 repetitions in the bench press and clocked a 4.98 time in the 40, demonstrated abilities that translate to the 3-4, for sure, but also displayed that he can clearly play in a 4-3. While he wasn't one of only four defensive linemen labeled nose tackles who were invited to the Indy workouts, the suspicion was that was his best position. But it's now possible, given Poe's scintillating performance, that he could become the second highest-regarded nose prospect in a row to be chosen by a 4-3 team. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

02/28/2012 - We've been touting Poe for a year or so now after being told about him by a Memphis staffer of his staggering athleticism. The guy squats over 700 pounds, bench presses over 500 and power cleans over 400, all jaw dropping numbers, but he's more than just weight room powerhouse. He was also a Tennessee state champion shot putter in high school, a testament to some of that explosiveness. As expected, Poe was impressive in the weight room in Indy, benching 225 pounds 44 times, more than anyone else at the combine. But it was when he dug his cleats in to run the 40-yard dash Monday morning when jaws really dropped. Poe was unofficially timed at an unheard-of 4.87 seconds. And this was as the fourth-heaviest defensive linemen to weigh in at the Ccmbine since 2000. Later, the league announced his official time was 4.98, which is still remarkable for such a mammoth athlete. Some immediately wondered if Poe is just a "workout warrior"? After all, he only was named to the second-team All-Conference USA team in 2011 with 33 tackles, eight TFLs and one sack for the nation's No. 115 defense. The year before, he was just an honorable mention all-league pick. In truth, it's tricky to try to read too much into the stats of an interior defensive lineman. Poe, as one college coach who faced him this year pointed out to me Monday, was not surrounded by much talent. You shaped your game plan around him, the coach said. Plus, different defensive scheme dictate how "productive" certain D-linemen can be. Steelers star nose man Casey Hampton's been to five Pro Bowls and he barely registers on the postgame stat sheet. - Bruce Feldman, CBS Sports

02/28/2012 - I spoke to a veteran O-line coach who faced Poe several times during his college career. His take: "He's probably the best talent I've seen in several years. He took plays off and wasn't a great effort guy, but he is a freakish talent." But don't all 320-plus pound D-linemen take some plays off? "Yeah," said the coach, "but he took off more than most. He did get better last year than he was the year before. He just was never that productive, but I heard they didn't require him to do that much. He was definitely someone I took into account with schemes. ... I'm not at all surprised to hear that he's blowing up at the combine at all. He was never on the ground in college." That last detail may actually be just impressive as the speed Poe displayed Monday, because as the O-line coach said, it shows the guy's great balance. "It's the first thing I look at in recruiting linemen. "He has definite first-round talent." - Bruce Feldman, CBS Sports

02/27/2012 - After bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times -- the most of any combine participant this year (though it was five reps short of the all-time record set by Stephen Paea) -- the 346-pounder ran an unofficial 4.87 in his first attempt at the 40 (he went 4.94 in his second attempt). The fact a guy who weighs that much can be that strong and that fast is fairly ridiculous. As NFL.com's Jeff Darlington writes, "RG(3)'s 4.41 40 is proportionate to a 346-lb man running it in 6.84 secs. And Poe (at 346 lbs) just did it in 4.87 secs." Poe is the 27th-ranked prospect in the NFLDraftScout.com rankings, and in his mock draft, Rob Rang projects Poe to go to the Bengals while the 21st pick, while Dane Brugler has him going to the Steelers at No. 24. With a performance like today, though, Poe might have catapulted himself into the top-15. - Josh Katzowitz, CBS Sports

02/27/2012 - Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe had distinguished himself from a deep DT class primarily because of his size -- 6-4, 346 -- and in that he's a natural fit as a nose tackle in a league with few built for that part. Monday he stood out in another way -- by bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times, the best at the 2012 Scouting Combine but seven short of the recognized event mark. Poe made good on his prediction of pushing up 225 at least 40 times. How the feat of strength affects his draft status is unpredictable in that the deep, talented crop of defensive linemen will set up something of a "What's your Flavor?" scenario for evaluators. For example, Poe's bulk, superhero strength and surprising agility might convince teams he's much more than just a nose tackle. Scouts consider him an athletic freak and his combination of upper- and lower-body strength implies that comparisons to Ravens' All-Pro five-technique defensive end Haloti Ngata have some merit. Ngata was the ninth overall pick and it's possible Poe will be pushed up the board because of his rare collection of skills and natural size. The Panthers own the ninth pick in 2012 and are definitely in the market for interior D-line help. They've already set up a meeting with 323-pound Michael Brockers (LSU) and are sure to consider Poe. - NFLDraftScout.com

02/23/2012 - NFL DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64: 27. *Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis, 6-5, 350, 1-2...His name is the key to his NFL future, as in Poe-tential. Naturally gifted with size and strength, Poe used those assets to great advantage in three years at Memphis, but hasn't really improved as much as pro scouts expected. "Dontari is a powerful, powerful you man who has the potential to be the best defensive lineman I ever coached," offered Memphis defensive line coach Mike DuBose, who saw some pretty good DLs in his days as head coach at Alabama, where he won an SEC championship in 1999. DuBose says Poe often over-thinks what he is doing rather than just doing it and needs to just rely on his abilities more. That probably accounts for the reason Poe doesn't always explode off the line. But DuBose says Poe is a dedicated athlete in the weight room and on the field, where he will still need to refine some techniques to maximize his God-given abilities at the next level. - Frank Cooney - The Sports Xchange, NFL Draft Scout

02/22/2012 - TOP 10 BEST BETS TO PUT ON COMBINE FREAK SHOW: Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT: Another serious contender to put on a show when he gets on the bench press. Poe is a mammoth inside presence with surprisingly good agility, the 6-5, 350-pounder is a powerhouse in the weight room, having power cleaned over 400 pounds, benched 500 and squatted over 700 pounds. - Bruce Feldman, CBSSports.com

02/21/2012 - 2012 NFL COMBINE, PLAYERS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis: Listed at 6-5, 350 pounds, Poe has rare movement skills and body control for a player with his frame and natural girth. But NFL decision-makers will look to get a better read on the mammoth tackle at the combine to find out how important football is to him. He comes with some questions, but stout and rangy nose tackles capable of carrying their weight as well as Poe usually don't last long on draft day. - NFLDraftScout.com

02/13/2012 - Depending on the scout you talk to, there is pretty good discussion about where Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe will play in the NFL, and it likely depends on what scheme is used by the franchise that selects him. At 350 pounds (estimated), Poe might be a 3-4 nose tackle, and is regarded as very stout at the point against the run. But he also has some skills that translate well to a 4-3 tackle spot. One scout reminded on Monday that, heading into the 2011 draft, Phil Taylor was the consensus top nose tackle, and that the former Baylor standout was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, who were converting to a 4-3. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

12/23/2011 - In the history of Memphis Tigers football there have been only two first round picks. The Carolina Panthers selected running back DeAngelo Williams 27th overall in 2006. The Kansas City Chiefs a decade earlier used the 28th overall pick on safety Jerome Woods. Junior defensive tackle Dontari Poe is hoping to join these former Tigers as soon as possible, announcing via Twitter Friday that he is foregoing his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL draft. Wrote Poe, under the handle @bigpoe74, "Big decision know I chose right.... NFL here I come." Despite being constantly double-teamed whether he played inside or out, Poe registered 33 tackles, including eight tackles for loss this season for the Tigers. He was voted the team's defensive MVP following the season and was known in scouting circles to be strongly considering taking advantage of the relative lack of top senior defensive tackles available this year. With his incredible size, Poe is an obvious candidate for 3-4 teams looking for nose guards, thus Dane and I's projection with the Houston Texans. Poe, however, is remarkably light on his feet for a man of his huge size and therefore will also be strongly scouted by teams using the more traditional four man front, as well. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

12/16/2011 - 2011 CONFERENCE USA SECOND TEAM (COACHES): DL-Dontari Poe, Jr., Memphis, has been selected All-Conference USA Second Team for the 2011 college football season as selected by the league's 12 head football coaches. A native Memphian, who prepped at Wooddale High, Poe started all 12 games on the defensive line this season, and has made 30 starts for the Tigers during his three-year career. He tallied 33 tackles, including 18 solo stops, and was third on the team in TFL with eight for minus 26 yards in 2011. Poe also posted a sack, three pass breakups, five quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. He matched his career high in tackles with eight against Marshall. At the post-season banquet, he was named an MVP as well as the Defensive Player of the Year. Poe was named to the 2009 C-USA All-Freshman Team and was an honorable mention All-C-USA selection last year. - Memphis football

09/10/2011 - SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Porter wasn't very pleased with his defense, which gave up 645 yards to the Bulldogs, setting a school record for Mississippi State. Porter saw too many big plays that were the results of missed tackles. The defensive front continues, though, to be the on-paper strength of this team, but the secondary is still a work in progress. Porter said he's debating changing some starting roles on his defense, but wasn't more specific than that. PLAYERS TO WATCH: DT Dontari Poe - Arguably the team's top talent, he'll need to be its top leader and player if the Tigers are to rebound with a win at Arkansas State. ASU QB Ryan Aplin is adequate, and it would behoove the Tigers to apply pressure. - The Sports Xchange

09/01/2011 - SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The talent on this side of the ball resides with defensive tackle Dontari Poe, end Frank Trotter and linebacker Terrence Thomas. They're the Tigers three top returning tacklers. The secondary is a bit suspect, but probably won't face a drastic passing attack from Mississippi State, which likes to primarily run. - The Sports Xchange

09/01/2011 - Entering his second season at Memphis, coach Larry Porter is looking for all the positives he can get. They were few and far between last year, after all. The Tigers won just one game against Middle Tennessee State and weren't even close in many of their contests down the stretch. On paper, they aren't expected to be much better this year, either. And to make matters more daunting, the Tigers have No. 20 Mississippi State coming to town for their season opener on Sept. 1. So it's hard to blame Porter for looking at the positives. And they are? "I enjoy watching our defense," Porter said. "I think they're playing with more confidence and more chemistry as a whole. I think the leaders Frank Trotter, Akeem Davis and a couple other guys have truly strengthened that unit for us." Porter has a good point. The Tigers are led by a strong group especially up front. Six-foot-five, 350-pound defensive tackle Dontari Poe is the ring-leader. Good for the Tigers, too, that Mississippi State enters the season opener with question marks on the offensive line. Maybe, then, Porter could watch his defense build the blocks necessary to spring an upset? A tall order, but one must start somewhere. - The Sports Xchange

08/26/2011 - Last year's edition of the Memphis Tigers went 1-11, and it might have even been worse than that. Plainly, Larry Porter's first year as the Memphis coach was an ugly one. So when Porter began the process about talking about his 2011 team, he knew he couldn't come out promising big things. To him, it's all about controlling what he can control, and doing it incrementally. "For us, it's about being improved," Porter said. "I think this team is ready to roar back." There are building blocks for Porter's Tigers, sure. Junior defensive tackle Dontari Poe is one of the team's best players, and he has grabbed some national attention in the offseason. The defensive line as a whole will likely be a strong point. Punter Tom Hornsey is one of the best in the nation. But there seem to be many, many more stumbling blocks. Porter has little to no experience at quarterback, has work to do to develop a dependable running back and has to work with a defense that gave up 460.7 points per game last year. So it's no surprise that when the Tulsa World commissioned a poll of media members, Memphis was picked to finish last in the East Division of Conference USA. That's OK to Porter. He's trying to turn the program around, and likes what he saw in the offseason in terms of players buying into his program and putting together the kind of work he wants to see. "(They) have embraced the role in terms of holding each other accountable," Porter said. - The Sports Xchange

08/26/2011 - MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: DT Dontari Poe - It's not as if a defensive tackle will be the reason the Tigers win or lose, but Poe might be the exception. Poe is one of the team's best players, but was passed over in the Conference USA preseason awards. If he can play with that sort of chip on his shoulder and make the most out of his talent, could that rub off to the rest of the young Tigers to start to plan the seed for the turnaround of the program? - The Sports Xchange

07/11/2011 - 2011 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT, has been selected one of 87 players named to Preseason Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List for the 2011 college football season. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Poe was second on the defensive line in tackles with 41, and tied for second on the team in sacks with two. He was credited with three QB hurries and a pass breakup as a sophomore in 2010, and posted a seven-tackle effort against UTEP. His sacks were against UTEP and Marshall, and his sack versus the Thundering Herd was for an 11-yard loss. Poe was a 2009 C-USA All-Freshman honoree and was an honorable mention all C-USA selection in 2010. In the 2011 Blue-Gray Game, Poe was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player. - Memphis football

07/11/2011 - 2011 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT, has been selected one of 65 players named to Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List for the 2011 college football season. The Outland Trophy goes to the best interior lineman in college football, presented annually since 1946 and is the third oldest award in major college football. Poe, a 6-5, 345 pound junior from Memphis, Tenn., is on the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists. Named this spring by ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman as one of the top 10 strongest players in college football, Poe was one of two defensive linemen last season who started all 12 games. He was second on the defensive line in tackles with 41, and tied for second on the team in sacks with two. He was credited with three QB hurries and a pass breakup as a sophomore in 2010, and posted a seven-tackle effort against UTEP. His sacks were against UTEP and Marshall, and his sack versus the Thundering Herd was for an 11-yard loss. - Memphis football

24/7 Scores, News, Highlights