KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones had a hard time choosing just three players to bring to Birmingham for the SEC Media Days presentation next Monday.
If Jones could, he would have brought more, as there were several players that impressed him this summer with their work ethic and leadership.
The three that made the cut — offensive lineman Jashon Robertson, defensive tackle Kendal Vickers and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley — surprised some people, particularly Moseley.
It certainly isn’t the same star power Jones’ brought to Birmingham last year, when Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cam Sutton and Josh Dobbs appeared to tell the story of Tennessee football.
It’s clear Jones puts a priority on picking seniors, otherwise players like junior middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., junior tailback John Kelly and junior defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie would have been obvious choices.
It’s also obvious Tennessee has no interest in stirring up controversy, or projected starting quarterback Quinten Dormady, game-breaking receiver Jauan Jennings and incoming graduate transfer cornerback Shaq Wiggins would have been on the list.
But a pair of seniors from Knoxville, Todd Kelly Jr. and Brett Kendrick, would have also been good choices for Birmingham, as they have been integral to the program’s growth.
That’s why it was such a tough decision for Jones on who to bring — and who to leave home.
Fans look forward to the SEC Media Day because they don’t get to hear from the players very often in the first place, but especially in the offseason, as many college programs have cut back the opportunities they allow their student-athletes to speak.
Like anything else, there will be a story behind why the relatively anonymous Moseley was chosen, as he hasn’t done a great deal of interviews before, and his personality leans toward the shy, serious side.
Moseley did work hard in the offseason, however, and appears to have overcome a shoulder injury that ended his spring prematurely.
Tennessee didn’t have any first- or second-team offensive or defensive players selected on Athlon Magazine’s preseason All-SEC list, though Robertson is a likely candidate for preseason honors in Birmingham.
Vickers, meanwhile, was one of only two defensive players to start every game last season (Derek Barnett was the other), and he likely did so even though he had a shoulder that would require surgery after the season.
SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss the dynamics of players coming to SEC Media Day, and who they would have chosen to represent had the decision been left up to them on today’s podcast.