Monthly Archives: June 2013

Former Tennessee player John-Patrick Smith falls in Wimbledon doubles play

John-Patrick Smith KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Former Tennessee tennis player John-Patrick Smith and doubles partner Paul Hanley lost to the third-seeded team Saturday at Wimbledon.

Smith, an Australian who played at Tennessee from 2007-2011, was making his Wimbledon debut. He suffered a five-set defeat 4-6, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 7-5, 10-8.


Tennessee football attendance: How to solve a complex riddle

Tennessee football tickets, Butch Jones, AAA

Tennessee is offering discounted tickets to AAA members for three games this year.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When asked about the slumping attendance at Neyland Stadium, most people have an easy solution: Just win more games.

That’s certainly part of the issue, but I don’t think it will fix the slumping sales overnight. The market environment is different from what it was in, say, 1998.

If you haven’t already, check out my story on the dwindling sales of Tennessee student tickets. There were a lot of great comments, including some ideas that I think will probably get serious consideration in the future.

The picture is almost as grim in the general ticket market.

New coach Butch Jones has generated plenty of enthusiasm in his first months on the job, but his hiring hasn’t caused a bump in season ticket sales, which I’m told are still flat at best.

If you’re already a season ticket holder, you may have recently been offered a chance to purchase an extra six tickets per game without an additional contribution. A recent issue of AAA Magazine contained an advertisement offering half-price tickets to the Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt games for AAA members.

UT is trying creative approaches to put fans in the seats, and we may hear more strategies in the weeks to come. But UT must strike a careful balance. If the Vols discount too heavily, it undermines the entire season ticket and donation structure upon which much of the department’s annual income is based.

Who might represent Tennessee at SEC Media Days? Here are some candidates (with poll)

Ja'Wuan James, SEC Media Days

Ja’Wuan James represented the Vols at last year’s SEC Media Days.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The annual carnival known as SEC Media Days begins on July 16 at the newly renamed Hyatt Wynfrey in Hoover, Ala.

Three players from each of the 14 SEC schools will join the head coaches for the round of interviews. The SEC plans to announce the players the week before the event, although we might know Tennessee’s representatives earlier than that.

Who could represent the Vols?

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Over-under win total for Tennessee football? 5.5 is a popular starting point

Butch Jones, Tennessee football

Many fans would be satisfied with a 6-6 record and a bowl appearance in Butch Jones’ first season as coach. (News Sentinel photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Selecting an over-under win total is tricky, because the numbers put out by Las Vegas sometimes say as much about the relative strength (and optimism) of a team’s fan base than they do about the team itself.

Even so, perusing the over-under totals is a fun summer tradition.

An online casino wisely took advantage of the potential for free publicity by issuing over-under totals for all 66 BCS teams.
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Jerome Dews is 17th commitment, 3rd linebacker in potential 2014 Tennessee class


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It took about 48 hours, but Maryland linebacker prospect Jerome Dews is officially on The List.

Dews talked of his commitment in great detail with the Washington Post, but the recruiting sites held off on adding him to the Vols’ commitment list. Why? It’s not unheard of for a team to take a lightly recruited two-star player late in the process. It is somewhat unusual for a team to take that commitment in June.

Jerome Dews (photo courtesy KNS partner 247Sports)

But the Vols do need linebackers as much or more than any other position, so Dews’ commitment is unlikely to spook any other player the Vols could be recruiting.

Also, it’s likely that there will be shuffling on the Vols’ commitment list between now and February. If UT does much better or worse than expected in 2013, some recruiting doors could open or close accordingly.


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How the recruiting sites projected Tennessee’s roster: A ranking from 1 to 82

Ja'Wuan James, recruiting rankings

Ja’Wuan James is the only consensus five-star player on Tennessee’s roster. (Photo from GoVolsXtra)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — For most players who sign with a college team out of high school, their recruiting ranking is quickly forgotten. But for elite prospects, the burden or benefit of that high ranking doesn’t go away.

We reviewed the rankings for the Vols’ 82 scholarship players to see which high school prep stars were highly regarded and which ones were less acclaimed.

The numbers are from the 247Sports composite average, which aggregates the rankings of all the major recruiting services. In that sense, this is a good way to get a “consensus” ranking. Some services might have ranked players higher or lower.

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Reported UT commit Jerome Dews on coaching staff: ‘They like me’ and don’t care about ‘politics, publicity’ — or rankings


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Butch Jones, like most coaches, publicly disavows recruiting rankings.

The only opinions that matter, Jones has said, are those of the UT coaching staff.

Most college football coaches will give you a similar refrain. (Although when I was at Auburn, running backs coach Curtis Luper once gave a refreshingly honest answer: “If they’re keeping the score, you want to win, right?”)

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Tennessee football: Vols player-by-player stats on a really big map

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — There’s more than one way to visualize the 2013 football team.

If you’ve had your fill of spreadsheets, this map offers another way of looking at the same stuff.

All 82 current scholarship football players are included in this map, and you can play around with the numbers based on class, geography, recruiting ranking and more.

This map was constructed on the relatively new Google Maps Engine light, so I’m still trying to figure out how to best share it. Let me know if you have any ideas. As best I can tell, the map shown above is static, but you can manipulate the map here using your own Google account. You can even change stuff, add markings, etc., and it won’t affect the “master copy.”

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube,  Google Plus or tumblr. E-mail with questions or comments.

Q&A with Bob Welton, Vols’ new player personnel director


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Bob Welton was working for the Cleveland Browns, living in Boise, Idaho, and enjoying life as an NFL scout.

But when Butch Jones called him up with an offer to come to Tennessee as the Vols’ new director of personnel, Welton decided to make the switch.

“When he asked me to come here, I was like, ‘This is the one guy I can’t say no to,'” Welton said in an interview. “I’ve had chances before to leave, but I was happy in the NFL. The NFL is great. Everything is good about it — the pay, the insurance, the benefits. I loved it. When he called, my wife was like, ‘We’re doing what?’ I said, ‘No, wait until you meet him. This is going to be awesome.'”

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Tennessee’s updated football roster: The biggest weight gainers and losers

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Freshman defensive lineman Jason Carr was listed at 260 pounds at the beginning of this year.

Today, he’s 285.

Carr was among the biggest gainers on the updated roster released today. Collectively, the team weighs 139 pounds more than it did when the roster was last updated. Most of that gain comes on defense. The offensive line was the only group that lost weight. Players who aren’t listed on the chart above had no change to their weight.

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