KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — You had to lean forward to hear everything Tennessee coach Butch Jones said after Friday’s practice.
His voice was already hoarse after Day 1, and there are about 30 more practices to go.
“I promised myself I wasn’t going to lose my voice on the first day and I failed on that,” Jones said.
Speaking generally about the first day, Jones said he could tell that players were “stronger, bigger and faster” and he was pleased with the retention from the spring. On the other hand, he saw a letdown in “momentum and intensity” toward the end of practice.
* Jones discussed a few uniform-related issues that cropped up in the first practice.
For one, why do freshmen have a strip of black tape covering the orange stripe on their helmet?
Here’s how Jones explained it.
“One of the best things we do in our personal development program here at Tennessee is our big brother program. That is part of the big brother program. When they’ve earned their stripes, their big brother will come up and rip that off of the helmet, because they’ve earned it.”
So, unless I’m missing something, when one earns their stripes, they effectively lose the stripe?
“As senior and juniors and upperclassmen, we can evaluate the freshmen and really watch what they do and watch how they progress,” said quarterback Justin Worley. “Once they earn their stripes, we rip it off, and they’re part of the team.”
I guess so.
More uniform stuff…
Worley and others with a 3.0 GPA were given a Vol Scholar patch to wear on their jerseys.
Also, players now have their names on the back of the jersey. Jones said it was a reward for a solid spring and summer.
“But the name that matters the most is on the front of the jersey,” he said.
* On the quarterbacks, Jones said that the two freshmen “looked like freshmen” and that he still needed “more leadership, more assertiveness” from veterans Worley and Nathan Peterman.
* Good interview with running back Alden Hill, who is one of the more engaging and impressive speakers on the team. Hill said he’s well aware that by seizing an opportunity in the spring, his profile has grown tremendously. But he said that’s meaningless unless he makes it pay off in real games.
* Check out our stories from tonight’s practice on GoVolsXtra. I’ll have more photos and some video later tonight and going into tomorrow morning.