By: Ben C
It’s Football Time on Rocky Top
The college football season will be underway in just a few weeks, meaning it’s time for the Vol Walk in Knoxville, Tennessee. The new renovations of Neyland stadium make it an even more intimidating place to play in. A sea of checkerboard from students, fans, and faculty cheering the Tennessee Volunteer’s fight song. Tennessee also has some new highlights for the team and recruits for the class of 2023 and the leadership of the new Head Coach Josh Heupel. That gave us an impressive and surprising 2021 season with the coaching staff’s help. Players have been working hard and training for this moment on and off the field. This season should be a season to remember for these guys. It should be an exciting time to be a Volunteer this coming fall.
College football in Tennessee started in 1891 and has expanded to great length in teamwork between players, depth between coaches and their players, and growth of players to strive for the best gameplay they can put out on the field. So the most recent victories for the Vols brought back the team’s pride in the fans and ultimately made the team rise in strength. This team would not be where it is if it had been through a rough patch after a long winning streak in the 1910s – 1990s. They grew strong and learned from mistakes with the most recent loss: The Vols lost 48-45 in the Trans-Perfect music bowl against the Purdue Boilermakers. The Vols want redemption more than ever after this game.
Another example of a heartbreaking moment is the regular season game, where the aspirations of seeing your team close to winning against a pretty good matchup. I’m talking about the Ole Miss versus Tennessee game that some people might call trashy or un-sportsmen-like. Still, if you are prideful, this is what we need, not just some moral high ground where people quietly sit back in their stadium seats. All this says is we don’t care about winning. We need the fans making noise, getting loud, and cheering on their team because it ultimately helps the players. It could have been handled better even though the mustard was hilarious, and the golf ball at Lane Kiffinwas kind of funny. What we get from this is that the Tennessee Volunteers came to play.
Coach Heupel has done amazing things since getting the head coach position. Changing 2021season in the books with predictions of a 4-8 season turned into a surprising 7-6 season, which brought it home for Tennessee fans. Heupel purposefully meets with the players and creates these relationships to develop them on the field, get to know their character to create matchups that will get the best plays. The best part about this is that he has been busy on and off the field between inviting players that couldn’t make it home for thanksgiving last year, to the rather impressive recruiting system and Tennessee’s new partnership with Spyre Sports Group to get these top players out on the field for the Vols. The NIL deal is making waves throughout NCAA Football, but the Tennessee Vols have used this unique opportunity to strive past just NIL. You can see it is making the player more successful in their careers, and Josh Heupel is beyond having players visit multiple times, play with the team, and talk to other players to get the right feel for everything, which is way beyond NIL.
This method has helped us grow our recruiting class for the class of 2022 and class of 2023, to name a few names Nico Iamaleava, Ethan Davis, Jack Lattrell, Jalen Smith, and Chandavian Bradley. Making the team more balanced in their OL and DL on both ends, the Offensive line is now one of the tops in the nation. The team has been rated around number 14th by Big Game Boomer in the top 50 College football teams coming into the 2022 season. The season prediction posted Saturday Down South coming from Sports Illustrated is (9-3), which I am a bit skeptical about with the Vols having a middle ground SOS schedule compared to last season, where it was a bit lower. I am open to the surprise and ready for the Vols to pull off something big this season. So we can establish that the Volunteers want to earn what Josh Heupel pulled for the team last year and more.
Lastly, UTK has given these players an excellent opportunity to play for a school with a history that goes so far back, and with this comes change. Neyland Stadium has been around forever, and it was time for the stadium to get some upgrades like the second jumbotron right in the stands for the fans viewing pleasure from both sides of the stadium. Also, the inclusion of the new party deck on the field level where people and families of the players, I presume, may sit as they are watching their players play football. This lowered the seating count but is still in the top 10 largest college football stadiums. They also brought back some nostalgia for the older Tennessee fans with the old Vol letters that used to be on the stadium are now back in their place to pay homage to history and how far they have come as a school and team. Mostly everything stays the same, like the Grass field instead of the Turf. They have not put anything else out on the renovations. So as the time gets closer and closer to kickoff to your Tennessee Volunteers, just be prepared for a show to be put on for Vols fans this season. The players are ready. The stadium is set. The question is, are you Tennessee fans ready. The Vols are Back with their first game against Ball State on September 1st at 7:00 pm in Knoxville.