It's great to be a Tennessee Vol
By Marvin West
|Peyton Manning leads the Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band and fans to Rocky Top in the 1997 SEC Championship.|
August 24, 2014
Tennessee football is so much fun when the Volunteers win.
The religious devotion, old-fashioned faith, is again justified. Joy is contagious. Strangers laugh and exchange high fives. Costs of tickets and parking and hot dogs no longer seem exorbitant.
There is a buzz as the thousands depart, replaying highlights. Some move on to next week and guess what the score will be and wonder if it is finally our turn against Alabama and who will make all-American. All is right with the world. Well, almost.
Excitement carries over to dinner parties and late-night snacks and even Sunday school. I once heard a preacher weave a Vol victory into a sermon.
Tennessee football is so much pain and anguish and indigestion when the Volunteers lose. It hurts to say they've been doing a lot of that lately and by some rather ugly scores. Our terrific freshmen Butch Jones brought in were 11 or 12 the last time Tennessee was relevant.
Losing generates so many negatives and very feeble excuses. The coach called the wrong play. We should try the other quarterback. How can all those officials miss that obvious holding foul? Our team is so young and inexperienced and the ball was wet.
Offended fans take losing personally. Coffee is lukewarm and breakfast is tasteless. Traffic is terrible, the computer is slow and it looks like more rain.
Losing lasts through Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday if Florida did it. Business suffers. No kidding. Losing dulls ordinary discussions.
Eventually, a trace of optimism breaks through, suffering subsides and believers come back to life and start counting again. Can the Vols still qualify for a bowl game?
|Tennessee Head Coach Johnny Majors started the Vol Walk in 1990. To this day it's become a favorite tradition among UT Vol fans.|
I am reminded of a little essay I did years ago: What is Tennessee football?
Some think of it as the greatest show on Earth, high drama, gladiatorial theater, pomp and circumstance, played out in front of huge audiences, soon to be bigger with the new SEC Network.
Faces change and even that forever jersey turns gray but the story line stays the same, us against them, passion and glory or confusion, turnovers and heartbreak. Been there and seen it all.
For sure, Tennessee football is money, multimillion-dollar budget, low or no reserve fund, greedy amusement taxes, astronomical debt service, Butch's salary plus a bonus for players' academic success.
OK, I know you are wondering. Dave Hart is paid $817,250 to be athletic director - unless I missed a recent raise.
Tennessee football rises above it all.
Some said my best line from that years-ago summation was this: "Tennessee football is an ensemble of very special people, a collection of remarkable snapshots, moments inextricably linked by blood, sweat and tears, always orange."
To me, Tennessee football will remain the memory of George Cafego, the epitome of a Volunteer. It is Doug Atkins and Reggie White getting bigger and better through the years. It is Larry Seivers and Dick Williams and Curt Watson and Bill Young and others who required no recruiting. Tennessee had always been their team.
Tennessee football is that season of destiny, the '98 national championship. It is the Arkansas fumble and Al Wilson refusing to lose.
Tennessee football is checkerboards and the Vol Walk and the Neyland statue. It is Dewey Warren's one-yard run in Memphis and Peyton Manning leading the band and staying for his senior season.
Tennessee football is the exhilaration of walking away a winner and the futility of final seconds ticking away when the Vols are behind and can't do anything about it. You feel like crying and maybe you do - until somebody starts the chant, "It's great to be a Tennessee Vol."
TEE MARTIN RETURNS TO ROCKY TOP AS AN ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH
By UT Knoxville
Jan. 21, 2019
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced the hiring of former Volunteer quarterback and 1998 national champion Tee Martin as an assistant coach on Saturday. Martin's specific title and duties will be announced in the coming days. The Tennessee legend returns to Rocky Top following a seven-year stint on the staff at Southern California where he had coached wide receivers since 2012 and added responsibilities as passing game coordinator in 2014 and offensive coordinator at the end of the 2015 season.
"I'm excited to welcome back Tee Martin as one of our assistant coaches," Pruitt said. "He coordinated some of the nation's top offenses at USC, and he develops and identifies players as well as any coach in the country. He's an excellent recruiter, and he is terrific at building relationships with his players. He cares about developing young men on and off the field. Tee was the quarterback on one of the greatest teams in school history, winning a national championship. He knows what it take to win here, and I'm excited to have him on our staff."
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VOLS ADD TRANSFER DEANGELO GIBBS
By UT Knoxville
Jan. 21, 2019
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced the addition of transfer Deangelo Gibbs on Monday. Gibbs comes to the Vols after lettering for two years at Georgia following a standout prep career at Grayson (Ga.) and Peachtree Ridge (Ga.) high schools. "Deangelo is a guy that I knew, and our staff knew in recruiting when he was coming out of high school," Pruitt said. "He's a guy that can play on either side of the ball. He's very tough and has unique ball skills. He's a very instinctive player, and he has size and speed. We are happy to have him at Tennessee."
An Oxford, Ga., native, Gibbs played in 13 games and made 10 tackles over two seasons as a defensive back with the Bulldogs. The 6-1, 205-pounder was an Under Armour All-American and ranked as a five-star prospect in the 2017 Class by both ESPN and Scout. ESPN ranked Gibbs the top prospect in Georgia and the nation's No. 10 recruit overall, while 247Sports composite rankings rated him the nation's No. 4 safety prospect and Rivals tabbed him the nation's No. 6 athlete.
TENNESSEE FOOTBALL ANNOUNCES 10 EARLY ENROLLEES
By UT Knoxville
Jan. 21, 2019
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee football team and head coach Jeremy Pruitt welcomed 10 early enrollees to campus this month as the first members of the 2019 recruiting class to arrive on Rocky Top. All 10 scholarship early enrollees are enrolled in class, officially on campus and will be eligible to participate in spring practice.
The early enrollee class includes: offensive lineman Chris Akporoghene (Seymour, Tenn.), defensive back Warren Burrell (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett), linebacker Quavaris Crouch (Charlotte, N.C./Harding University), defensive back Tyus Fields (Cornelius, N.C./Hough), running back Eric Gray (Memphis, Tenn./Lausanne Collegiate School), wide receiver Ramel Keyton (Marietta, Ga/Marietta), tight end Jackson Lowe (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville), quarterback Brian Maurer (Ocala, Fla./West Port), defensive back Jaylen McCollough (Powder Springs, Ga./Hillgrove) and offensive lineman Wanya Morris (Loganville, Ga./Grayson).
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