Good Day, Everyone,
In Mid-Tennessee, many Vol Football Fans count the UT Big Orange Picnic that occurs with the SEC Media Days as the start of the Fall Football Season. I am one of those! So it is now “FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!”. Today’s notes are a bit of hindsight and a bit of foresight of what I will be looking for in the coming season for the 2015 Vol Football Team. I will be giving Game Notes, each week, before each game.
First let’s have a look at how things have changed. In the “Good Old Days” there were a lot more kids on scholarship. In Johnny Majors first year at Pittsburgh he had over 100 Freshmen on scholarship and over 30 of those were playing four years later when Pittsburgh beat Wyoming for the National Title. Today the maximum number of players that can be on Football Scholarships in a single semester is 85. The thing to remember about the number of our early enrollees entering school in January is that it is only possible because of the number of players on a team that graduate in December that will not be returning to play another year. No graduations, no scholarships for new players.
In the “Good Old Days” kids in the incoming class would play Summer Baseball, Fish, and all the other Fun Things that kids did in the Summers between Sports Seasons. Today’s “Serious” Football players spend their Summers at Camps in Individual Skill Development and 7 on 7 Competitions starting as early as their Freshmen/Sophomore years. The National Camps lead to the Big Show by Nike in Oregon “The Opening”. I can remember “back in the day” when I was living outside of Knoxville, coming in to school that Fall was a “HUGE” All Star Offensive Lineman (for the day) that was bigger than any returning lineman for the Vols. A SURE STARTER by all Vol Fans. When he hit campus around August 15th it was over 90 degrees each day of practice for the two a days. In two weeks he lost over 40 pounds and was as weak as a Kitten (I heard later that he was ready to quit but his Momma would not let him come home). He Redshirted as a Freshman but was not a washout. As I remember he played in the NFL. At that time it was not unusual for the incoming Freshmen to be unprepared for the rigors of SEC Football and that story was often repeated for players in all positions.
The past two years have only had two players that were not enrolled at the start of Summer School in June, and combining the two classes over 30 enrolled and started classes and conditioning in January as Early Enrollees. In part because of the improvement of high school programs and the Summer Programs, we have incoming Freshmen that can lift more weight and meet conditioning standards that the Vol Seniors did not hit as a rule 20 to 30 years ago. Times have changed and we need to remember that not only are our 2
nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th year players better; but also, so are those players at every other SEC School. Taking that into consideration, I think that our new kids are special and will demonstrate that they will set new standards of performance for the Vol‘s Newbies. These last two classes were special in High School both on the field and in the classroom. The early enrollees graduated from high school a semester early and had a 3.0 GPA at UT this past term in their first semester of college work. Folks, THAT IS HIGH COTTON!
One last thing that you cannot take for granted is the impact on these two classes of having parents that played at Tennessee and other colleges and at the Professional level. They had great role models as they were growing up and they bring their respect for Tennessee to the playing fields. The “Legacy Players” are tying the new players to their legacies and into the Tennessee Traditions and standards of performance. See you in Nashville for Bowling Green!!