Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tyndall talks Lopez injury, McKnight denial and Mostella Clearinghouse


KNOXVILLE — Tennessee men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall, during a WNML radio appearance Tuesday, spoke at length for the first time about three developments that recently impact his team.

1. On the torn ACL of walk-on senior point guard Brandon Lopez …

“It’s a huge blow to our team. In most instances some people might say, well he’s a walk-on. How important or how big of a piece could he possibly be? But if you know the makeup of our team, we really don’t have a point guard. And on top of that Brandon had worked himself into great condition. He was having a great offseason. He provided super leadership to this point. So, he was a guy that was not only battling to play significant minutes, but possibly start on our team. So it’s a huge blow to our team. And it’s certainly frustrating, disappointing for that young guy, who really is a fantastic young man.”

2. On the SEC’s denial of a graduate transfer waiver that would have allowed Florida Gulf Coast forward Eric McKnight to play for Tennessee in 2014-15 …

“It’s certainly disappointing. We all make mistakes. I’ve made my share, that’s for sure. In many instances I’ve given young people a second opportunity. I can’t think of an instance where it didn’t pan out and end up leading for some positive results for that particular young person. So that was disappointing because I know Eric really wanted to be here at Tennessee. He has done everything he needed to do in regard to finishing up school, being a graduate. All I can say is you’ve got to respect the process. No one was more devastated than Eric McKnight. Certainly it was another big blow for our team. Because Eric would have been our starting center. Absolutely. No question about it. You look at in the last month we have lost arguably our starting point guard and our starting center with already a very youthful, inexperienced team. Now you’re two scholarship players short. That’s frustrating. It really is.”

When asked if he had a clear understanding of why McKnight’s waiver was denied, Tyndall said he did not.

“I really can’t explain it. I wish I could.  I think that’s a question you probably have to ask the SEC people. I don’t want to get too, for lack of a better term, controversial here. I certainly, as I mentioned earlier, was disappointed with the decision. And I can’t answer what their thoughts were or why the decision was what it was. But if you happen to get those answers I sure would love to hear from you guys.”

3. On freshman guard Detrick Mostella receiving clearance from the NCAA …

“I felt very good about it from the very first day. Like I tried to tell everyone when I kept being asked about it. That’s just the nature of the NCAA Clearinghouse process. There are probably 25 to 30 percent of all college basketball players across the country right now that have yet to be cleared, because you get the last transcript or the last test score, which you take in the middle of June, and it takes four to six weeks to get everything processed. And then the football players with the NCAA are priorities because their season starts first. I was never concerned. I really wasn’t. It was just a matter of it running its course.”

Tyndall’s full interview will be uploaded here.

PG Braxton Bonds, former Liberty signee, listed in UT student directory


Update: Braxton Bonds has been released from his National Letter of Intent at Liberty University, team spokesman Todd Wetmore told the News Sentinel on Sunday evening.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Point guard Braxton Bonds of Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville will join the Tennessee men’s basketball team as a walk-on, according to a Hoosier Sports Live report published Sunday.

The report focused on 2016 prospect Braxton Blackwell, and mentioned Bonds as a footnote that might help the Vols in their recruitment of Blackwell.

Bonds is currently listed in UT’s online student directory. Students start the fall semester August 20.

UT men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall declined to comment on Bonds on Sunday. The Bonds family and Christ Presbyterian Academy coach Drew Maddux have not responded to phone calls from the News Sentinel.

Joining the Vols would be a change of plans for Bonds, the nephew of retired MLB slugger Barry Bonds. He signed a National Letter of Intent with Liberty in November 2013. Liberty, a Division I program that is a member of the Big South Conference, does not list Bonds on its roster.

If Bonds is to be added as a walk-on, something will have to change. UT trimmed the men’s basketball roster to 13 scholarship positions and two walk-ons headed into the 2012-13 season. Tyndall already has two walk-ons — Brandon Lopez and Galen Campbell — on his roster. He said Sunday those players will continue to be walk-ons.

A true point guard, Bonds could offer some help at a position of need. Scouting service 247 Sports ranked the three-star prospect as the No. 8 player in Tennessee for the 2014 class.

And then there is the potential Blackwell effect. UT is one of many schools chasing the four-star forward who also plays for Christ Presbyterian Academy. The Vols might become more appealing to Blackwell if Bonds does in fact join the team in some capacity.

Butch Bytes: Vols football coach talks Weatherd, weights and patience


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — WNML is broadcasting from Neyland Stadium on Wednesday as UT hosts its “Meet Your Seats” event. Tennessee football coach Butch Jones made an appearance on the Doc, Jeff and Heather Show in the morning. Listen to the full interview here. Some highlights are transcribed below.

On linebacker Chris Weatherd: “He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do. We have to get him in shape, both mentally and physically. But you know, he is one of those individuals who can run, who has the explosiveness that we need out of our linebacking corps. Again, it should be another piece in the overall depth.”

On team’s strength and conditioning: “If we were sitting right at this table doing this show a year ago, we had zero players — and we were a veteran group — who could squat over 600 pounds. After last night we are up to 11. We were nine. Now we’re 11. We’re making great strides in our football program. They’ve had a great offseason.”

On team’s youth: “When you look at the time demands of an individual, from eight hours of study hall a week, a full 15 credit hour workload academically. You have practice that’s three and a half to four hours, rehabilitation, rest, recovery, nutrition. All that goes through a young person’s mind. Going through it the first time, it becomes overwhelming. What are we going to do to kind of ease the burdens? The great thing is 14 out of the 32 did it in spring football. It’s definitely going to be a mentorship this season.”

On A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt and Mack Crowder attending SEC Football Media Days: “All three of them, it was their first SEC media day. It was a little bit of a wakeup call that everyone around the country knows anything and everything about them and Tennessee football. I had them stand up in the team meeting and give them a report on what they learned throughout that day at media day.”

On his message to UT fans: “We’re embarking on a journey together. We win together. We cry together. We celebrate together. We are one Tennessee. Our fan base is one of the major reasons why we are recruiting as well as we are. Because of their passion. It’s going to be exciting for them because they are going to see the growth and maturation of this team develop throughout the course of the season. Our patience is going to be challenged. But their loyalty will be rewarded. I promise you that. We just need to stay the course together. There’s going to be many great days ahead of us.”

On ways to help UT’s inexperienced offensive line: “Everything, especially in this conference, is about team speed. Last year we completely lacked it. I think that’s evidenced by the amount of big splash or big plays. They were eliminated from our offense. Now they have the ability to throw a quick screen. Look around the country. What’s probably the most used football play? A quick screen. Spit the ball out on the perimeter and go one-on-one. We didn’t have that luxury last year. Now we have a little bit of that luxury. And we have to do a great job changing launch points and trying to eliminate pressure up front as much as we can.”

On the possibility of UT playing a neutral-site game in 2017: “We’re always looking to improve.  I can’t tell you one way or the other. But we are still exploring for that year as well.”

Live Updates: Butch Jones on ESPN’s Car Wash


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee —  Tennessee football coach Butch Jones is spending the day in Bristol, Conn., where he and seven other SEC coaches will go through gauntlet of interviews at ESPN headquarters. Jones is likely to appear on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Radio throughout the day, and you can track his comings and goings here.

9:24 a.m. Touchdown. Jones is on the ground at ESPN headquarters.

10 a.m. Jones sits down with Adam Rittenberg, college football reporter for

10:30 a.m. ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy, who is attending the car wash, reports via anonymous source that Tennessee will play West Virginia in Charlotte to open the 2018 season. That report has been out for a while. Tennessee has not confirmed. More on that here. 

It’s Official: UT announced the game with West Virginia. News is here.

12:45 p.m. Jones tapes a radio interview with ESPN’s Freddie Coleman.

1:50 p.m. More radio …

1:53 p.m. Not Jones related, but Arkansas coach Brett Bielema took a shot at former UT coach Lane Kiffin when asked about how much cheating is going on in college athletics.

2:22 Jones gets a feel for the SportsCenter set.

3 p.m.  Heavy-hitting stuff here. ESPN’s College Football crew is awarding every coach a celebrity lookalike. Jones got Sergeant Carter from Gomer Pyle.

 3:35 p.m. Jones appeared on ESPN News’ broadcast of SportsCenter. Some quotes …

On Recruiting:

“We are very excited. We were able to attract a class of 32. Out of those 32 signees, 14 were mid-year enrollees and really energized our football program. We talk about it all the time. Everything in life is about timing. We feel Tennessee is the right place at the right time.”

On UT’s 2014 Schedule:

“We have to be ready to start right from the get-go, and be game-ready. The first three opponents are bowl champions. They know how to win. For us, 50 percent of our football team will be going through their first collegiate season. So we have to focus on winning every moment. It’s exciting because we get to raise them. Our older players have done a great job really mentoring our younger players.”

On UT fans:

“Our fans are outstanding. When you’re at the University of Tennessee, one of the most storied college football programs in the country, you always have high expectations. And that’s what you want as a recruit, as a player and as a coach. It’s exciting for them (UT fans) because they get to watch now the transformation of these young players and watch them be raised. So, our fans have been great, and we’re looking forward to getting this thing started.”



Tennessee football commits take on Alabama — on Twitter


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Maybe its early team bonding. Or perhaps just summer boredom. Whatever the case may be, two future Vols have a head start on a UT tradition — disliking Alabama.

Lately, Andrew Butcher and Kahlil McKenzie have made their feelings on the Crimson Tide known via Twitter. Butcher dropped the first social media bomb earlier this month.

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Butcher told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the tweet was a response to a shoving match McKenzie had with an Alabama commit at The Opening, a football camp recently televised on ESPNU.

“I knew it would get some reaction,” he said. “I knew that was what the Tennessee fans would want to hear. Just believing you can beat Alabama is half of the battle because most people are just scared of them. I respect Alabama, but I’m not scared of them. I’m ready for the rivalry.”

The dust settled — until McKenzie stirred things up again this weekend.

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Crazy? Bold?

Time will tell.


247Sports photo

Ryan Johnson committs to join Tennessee football’s 2016 class


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee football coach Butch Jones got “one big freakin’ brick” on Saturday.

Ryan Johnson, a soon-to-be junior offensive tackle from Brentwood Academy announced Saturday morning he committed to the Vols.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Johnson chose UT over Ole Miss and Alabama. Scouting service 247Sports ranks Johnson as the nation’s No. 201 overall prospect and No. 17 offensive tackle in his class. He is the No. 5 prospect in the state of Tennessee.

Johnson is the third known commitment for UT’s 2016 class.

See how his family celebrated his commitment below.



Bricky By Brick: Tennessee football debuts 2014 media guide cover


HOOVER, Alabama — The days of carrying pounds and pounds of paper media guides home from the SEC Football Media Days are over.

Today the conference debuted a sleek thumb drive that stored info for all 14 teams.

That doesn’t mean style is sacrificed.

Tennessee stuck with football coach Butch Jones’ “Brick by Brick” slogan for this season’s cover.

Below are designs from around the league. Which do you like best?

*Texas A&M isn’t included. Its guide started with a letter, followed by a table of contents.

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Kahlil McKenzie commits to join Tennessee football’s 2015 class


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Kahlil McKenzie kept in in the family.

The 2015 five-star defensive tackle who plans to play his final high school season for Clayton Valley Charter in Concord, Calif., verbally committed to the Tennessee football team Thursday night during ESPNU’s coverage of Nike’s The Opening, an elite high school football camp in Oregon.

McKenzie (6-foot-4, 341 pounds) picked the Vols over Arizona. He will follow in the footsteps of two former NFL players in his family. His father, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, and his uncle, Oakland Raiders scout Raleigh McKenzie, both starred for Austin-East High School and the Vols before they were picked in the 1985 NFL Draft.

Scouting service 247Sports ranks McKenzie as the No. 10 player overall and the No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2015 class.

For Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, his creative approach to recruiting McKenzie paid off.

McKenzie fancies bucket hats, so Jones placed them pretty much everywhere and sent McKenzie photos.

On Thursday night, McKenzie picked the Vols by plopping an orange and white bucket hat atop his head.

Jones was watching.

Tennessee now has 20 commitments for 2015.

Tennessee roster update: Vols welcome two walk-on QBs


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Two in-state walk-ons are the latest additions to the Tennessee football roster.

A recent update at added Knoxville native and former Grace Christian Academy quarterback Devin Smith (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) along with former Dyersburg quarterback and long snapper Will Bradshaw (6-foot-4  220 pounds).

Smith led Grace Christian to the 2A semifinals as a senior and earned All-State and All-PrepXtra honors in 2013. He announced on Feb. 1 that he would join the Vols as a preferred walk-on.

Another local standout — West High School linebacker Cody Underwood — also planned to join the Vols as a preferred walk-on. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound freshman had not been added to the UT roster as of Thursday.

Vols basketball prospect: 7-foot-3 center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall kicked off July’s live recruiting period in Philadelphia yesterday, where a handful of prospects UT will continue to chase played in the first day of the Reebok Classic Breakout.

Media members spotted Tyndall watching 2015 five-star small forward Dwayne Bacon, 2015 four-star point guard Jawun Evans and 2015 three-star power forward Kerry Blackshear. Another player with an offer from UT, 2016 four-star center Abdul Ado, was in attendance. And by the end of the day there was a new name UT (and Connecticut) fans should know — currently unranked 2015 big man Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (photo slideshow here).

Koumadje, a 7-foot-3 — or 7-4 depending on whom you ask — center from Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., appears to be gaining more attention nationally. The Senegal native now reportedly has offers from UMass, UCLA, Washington and Pepperdine to go with his most recent ones from the Vols and last season’s NCAA champs.

Another recruiting note: 2015 guard Nico Clareth of Baltimore will reportedly reclassify and join the 2016 class. Tyndall’s staff offered him a scholarship in late May.