KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In advance of Saturday’s first scrimmage of training camp, Tennessee hosted its annual Media Day on Friday afternoon.
Vols fourth-year coach Butch Jones met with reporters and broke down where his team stands.
- Jones praised senior offensive lineman Dylan Weisman. Tennessee’s starting right guard is “very, very versatile,” per Jones, and “has a great role on our football team as one of our leaders.”
- For the umpteenth time this preseason, Jones downplayed expectations. He reiterated that he “doesn’t pay much attention to hype.”
- “We still have a long ways to go. We have to make sure we’re 22 strong.”
- Jones emphasized building depth during training camp, repeating his new favorite phrase: “We’re still in the infant stages of developing the identity of Team120.”
- Jones addresses Tennessee’s 2016 moniker: Own It. “What did this team need? I think ‘Own It’ is very fitting. When you really think about it, it’s owning everything. It’s owning the expectations. It’s owning your style of play, owning your conditioning, owning your fundamentals, owning your attitude, owning your academics, owning your personal life. There’s so much that goes into it. If you look at it, if you own something you’re going to take greater care of it than if you rent it or borrow it. Just own it.”
- Jones credited Tennessee’s training staff for keeping players fresh and avoiding injuries during camp. “Knock on wood, it’s still a long camp. It’s a fine line. We have to practice with a high level of physicality. That’s our style of play.” Jones harped on “players understanding recovery” and “practice habits.”
- Jones said freshman cornerback Baylen Buchanan earned the right to become the first newcomer to lose his black stripe. “He came in under the radar but he’s just worked. He’s worked exceptionally hard. Doesn’t say much.” Cited Buchanan’s special teams value.
- Jones said Nigel Warrior, who lost his stripe on Thursday, is the “first individual who’s asked me if I can keep that stripe.”
- “We’re able now to go with the 3s. We’ve never been able to go with the 3s.” Jones complemented freshman offensive tackle Marcus Tatum’s performance in camp.
- Jones stressed the importance of in-state recruiting. “In-state recruiting is everything, but we have to find the right fit for the University of Tennessee.” Called it a lifetime legacy for kids to stay in state and represent Tennessee. Jones said Tennessee’s resurgence all started with local kids (Jalen Hurd, Derek Barnett). “They made a difference getting Tennessee football back.”
- Jones called Saturday’s scrimmage “another great opportunity” for players to define their roles. SEC officials will be at the scrimmage, while UT coaches will be in the press box.”
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com