In case it hasn’t been made perfectly clear, expectations are extremely high on Rocky Top.
Tennessee enters the 2016 season with plenty of momentum. The Vols won their final six games and clobbered Northwestern in the Outback Bowl to finish the 2015 season 9-4. Much of that team is returning this season, including quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara.
Some of the hype surrounding the 2016 Volunteers has come internally. But some former Volunteers greats are also hyping what should be a big season in Knoxville, Tenn.
“The junior class this year, when they were freshmen, we all said that when they become juniors, it should be a pretty good season for us,” former Tennessee linebacker Al Wilson said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Grant Ramey. “Now is the time.”
The time is finally here for Tennessee’s turnaround to reach fruition. The time is here for Butch Jones to make fans forget about Derek Dooley altogether. The time is here to — as Donald Trump might say — make Tennessee football great again.
Wilson and many other former Tennessee stars were part of a charity dinner Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, where the Vols will battle Virginia Tech on Sept. 10. Former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer was also in attendance, and there were plenty of comparisons made between the current Vols and the 1998 national championship team. That team, Wilson said, had plenty of camaraderie to pair with an abundance of talent.
“I think the key word was team,” Wilson told Ramey. “We were an absolute team. We called ourselves a team of no stars.”
The question for the 2016 Tennessee Volunteers will be whether they can channel their star power into a successful endeavor that gets the program back in the national conversation for good.