Author Archives: Dustin Dopirak

About Dustin Dopirak

Dustin Dopirak has been covering Tennessee football since August of 2014. Prior to that he spent five years covering Indiana basketball, football and baseball at the Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Times. Before arriving at Indiana, he covered James Madison basketball among other beats at the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va., from 2004-09. He graduated from Penn State in 2004 after serving as sports editor and covering football and men’s basketball among other sports at the Daily Collegian. He grew up in North Huntingdon, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, graduating from Norwin High School in 2000.

My preseason All-SEC Ballot

Meant to put this out yesterday before it dropped, but wanted to get it out today in the interest of transparency. I will probably concede to most arguments.




1 #10 Chad Kelly – QB – Ole Miss
2 #11 Joshua Dobbs – QB – Tennessee




1 #7 Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU
2 #1 Jalen Hurd – RB – Tennessee
3 #27 Nick Chubb – RB – Georgia
4 #7 Ralph Webb – RB – Vanderbilt




1 #3 Calvin Ridley – WR – Alabama
2 #3 Christian Kirk – WR – Texas A&M
3 #8 Fred Ross – WR – Mississippi State
4 #80 Drew Morgan – WR – Arkansas




1 #88 O.J. Howard – TE – Alabama
2 #17 Evan Engram – TE – Ole Miss




1 #74 Cam Robinson – OL – Alabama
2 #70 Dan Skipper – OL – Arkansas
3 #63 Alex Kozan – OL – Auburn
4 #73 Greg Pyke – OL – Georgia
5 #75 Jashon Robertson – OL – Tennessee
6 #71 Dylan Wiesman – OL – Tennessee
7 #65 Avery Gennesy – OL – Texas A&M
8 #73 Austin Golson – OL – Auburn




1 #77 Ethan Pocic – OL – LSU
2 #71 Ross Pierschbacher – OL – Alabama




1 #15 Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M
2 #9 Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee
3 #93 Jonathan Allen – DL – Alabama
4 #54 Dalvin Tomlinson – DL – Alabama
5 #91 Charles Harris – DL – Missouri
6 #55 Carl Lawson – DE – Auburn
7 #10 Marquis Haynes – DE – Ole Miss
8 #48 Deatrich Wise – DL – Arkansas




1 #10 Reuben Foster – LB – Alabama
2 #21 Jalen Reeves-Maybin – LB – Tennessee
3 #52 Kendell Beckwith – LB – LSU
4 #56 Tim Williams – LB – Alabama
5 #41 Zach Cunningham – LB – Vanderbilt
6 #40 Jarad Davis – LB – Florida




1 #4 Eddie Jackson – DB – Alabama
2 #23 Cameron Sutton – DB – Tennessee
3 #31 Jalen Tabor – DB – Florida
4 #18 Tre’Davious White – DB – LSU
5 #33 Jamal Adams – DB – LSU
6 #29 Minkah Fitzpatrick – DB – Alabama
7 #20 Marcus Maye – DB – Florida
8 #12 Tony Conner – DB – Ole Miss




1 #38 Daniel Carlson – PK – Auburn
2 #99 Adam Griffith – PK/P – Alabama




1 #15 JK Scott – P – Alabama
2 #93 Trevor Daniel – P – Tennessee




1 #29 Evan Berry – RS – Tennessee
2 #3 Christian Kirk – WR – Texas A&M




1 #3 Christian Kirk – WR – Texas A&M
2 #6 Alvin Kamara – RB – Tennessee




1 Alabama
3 Ole Miss
4 Texas A&M
5 Arkansas
6 Auburn
7 Mississippi State




1 Tennessee
2 Georgia
3 Florida
4 Missouri
5 Kentucky
6 Vanderbilt
7 South Carolina


SEC CHAMPION (Must be your top selection from East/West)


1 Alabama


Butch Jones SEC Media Days transcript

From the lovely people at ASAP sports.

Butch Jones

Tennessee coach

COMMISSIONER SANKEY: To begin the afternoon, our next coach is Butch Jones.

COACH JONES: Well, thank you, Commissioner. It’s great to see everyone again. As we always talk about, SEC Media Days are always the kickoff to the start of the football season, and obviously everybody is very, very excited about that.

But I think it’s very important. I want to start today off and talk about one of the greatest coaches of all time, regardless of the sport, and that’s Tennessee’s very own Coach Pat Summitt. And I’m very, very grateful for the time that I was able to spend with her. We spent a lot of time together just talking about everything, and we talk about coaching is creating change, changing young adults, and she was able to do that and I’m very blessed and fortunate.

Every day I start my morning off, I look outside my window and I look down at her statue. And so I wanted to make sure I spoke about that, because she’s near and dear to all of our hearts. And everything is about excellence and leaving a legacy, and she definitely did that.

I don’t want to overlook all of the hard work and all of the effort by our coaches and our staff, our players the past few years. We talk about everything having a compound effect, everything adds up and becoming 1 percent better each and every day.

And everything, like I said, adds up and it gets to a point where your program gets in an opportunity like we have to be able to compete week in and week out. We’re going to continue to build the Tennessee football program for sustained success.

And I say that, sustained success. Right now we’re experiencing all-time records, as Commissioner just spoke about, in terms of community service, academics, everything that we do about representing ourselves, graduation rates and now starting to win on the football field.

Three individuals that are representing the University of Tennessee today, not only are they great representatives for the state of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee or VolNation, but I think they’re great representatives for the Southeastern Conference and for all of collegiate football. And I think they’re great stories, and I really encourage you to get around these three young men, because I think they’re some of the finest young men in the country.
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Athlon, Sporting News on the Vols

The preseason college football magazines have hit the news stands, so I’ll just be publishing synopses of their prognostications on Tennessee as I find them. Picked up Athlon and the Sporting News this week, so here’s what they have to say about about the Vols.


UT’s Preseason National Rank: No. 7

UT’s Projected SEC Finish: First in the SEC East

UT Bowl Projection: Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma

Projected All-Americans: First Team — defensive end Derek Barnett, kickoff returner Evan Berry, punt returner Cameron Sutton. Third team — linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

Projected All-SEC: First Team — Running back Jalen Hurd, guard Jashon Robertson, defensive end Derek Barnett, kickoff returner Evan Berry, punt returner Cameron Sutton. Second Team — quarterback Joshua Dobbs, all-purpose back Alvin Kamara, cornerback Cameron Sutton. Third Team– punter Trevor Daniel.

UT’s spots in SEC Position Rankings (only in Athlon): Quarterbacks No. 2; Running Backs No. 3. Wide Receivers/Tight Ends No. 7; Offensive Line No. 3; Defensive LIne No. 5; Linebackers No. 2; Defensive Backs No. 6.

Other Lists: Joshua Dobbs No. 11, Jalen Hurd No. 20 among Heisman Trophy contenders; Bob Shoop No. 3 coordinator hire.

Quote of Interest: From an unnamed opposing coach in the “Scouting the Vols” section: “A lot of us thought they were on the brink of being really good. Like, really close. It’s probably a make-or-break year for Butch Jones, especially with some of the off-the-field stuff they’ve been dealing with. i would think the expectation for them should be to win the East, but they have to get over the mental hurdle of beating Florida. They don’t really have any excuses. They’ve been the better team the last two years and haven’t gotten it done.”

The Sporting News

UT’s Preseason National Rank: No. 13

UT’s Preseason SEC Projection: First in the SEC East

UT’s Bowl Projection: Orange Bowl vs. Florida State

Projected All-Americans: First Team-Safety Cameron Sutton (which is interesting because Sutton plays cornerback). Second Team-Derek Barnett

Projected All-SEC: First Team — Running Back Jalen Hurd, Defensive End Derek Barnett, Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Defensive Back Cameron Sutton.

Other Lists: Joshua Dobbs listed as best running quarterback in “Rating The SEC.”

Quote of Interest: “Tennessee lost four games by a combined 17 points last season before rattling off seven straight wins capped with an impressive 45-6 blowout over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. Joshua Dobbs’ evolution at quarterback continues and cornerback Cameron Sutton returns to bolster the defense. There’s offseason turmoil resulting from a Title IX lawsuit, but coach Butch Jones has this team ready to win the SEC East on the field. September games against Virginia Tech (at NASCAR’s Bristol Motor Speedway) and against Florida will set the tone.”


Vols get late commitment from Texas junior college outfielder

The middle of the Tennessee batting order took an expected but substantial hit in the Major League Baseball draft with junior third baseman Nick Senzel going No. 2 overall and graduating senior Vincent Jackson going in the 14th round. Those two combined for 16 home  runs, 116 RBI and 230 total bases in 2016.

The Vols maintained junior first baseman Jordan Rodgers (.282, four home runs, 56 RBIs), however, and they will add a powerful junior college outfielder.

Dominic Thornton, an outfielder from Howard College in Texas, has committed to the Vols for the 2017 season, he told the News Sentinel on Monday. He will visit Knoxville this week and expects to sign a letter of intent by the end of the week. He will have two years of eligibility remaining, but will be eligible for the draft after the 2017 season.

“When (assistant coach Aric)  Thomas came and talked to me, it just felt like a fit,”Thornton said. He really made it feel like I was wanted. It just felt like a connection. It was kind of a weird thing. It worked out pretty cool.”

Thornton began his career at Kansas State in 2015 and finished his freshman year 6-for-35 (.171) with four RBI before transferring. This season he hit .414 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI and scored 82 runs. Thornton said that after that campaign he had interest from numerous Division I schools including Houston and Miami.

“I liked the thought of playing in the SEC,” Thornton said.

Thornton said he hopes to play right field, a position left vacant with the graduation of senior Chris Hall. He said he is signing late because he was eligible for the draft as a junior college player. He said several Major League teams showed interest, but were not willing to meet his signing bonus demands, which he would not divulge to the News Sentinel.

“We just didn’t come to an agreement on money,” Thornton said. “So that’s when I decided I should go to school.”


“I’m thrilled to death” — Tennessee’s Dave Serrano on the draft

I just spoke to Dave Serrano about the draft. His thoughts follow.

His General Thoughts

“I’m excited about their guys that got their names called. With Nick, it’s pretty obvious what he’s going to do. Vincent and Andy being seniors, they’re obviously going to sign. I’m really proud of those guys. I’m really shocked with Jordan Rodgers name not being called. It’s good for the Vols, but disappointing for him. And Hunter Martin, I know a team was talking to him, but I’m happy for Vols he’s back. Kyle being taken in the 40th round, that’s kind of a token draft pick, but congratulations to him. Overall for our guys on our team, I’m happy for them. And I’m really happy that this recruiting class stayed in tact. We did a lot of work coaching staff and we got strong commitments from our recruits and their families. They had their dollar figures high because they were committed to going to school. I couldn’t be prouder of that group. We’re excited coaching staff, because they’re going to be a big part of our future success.

On Nick Senzel

It doesn’t shock me the way everything played out. IF you look at everything, he probably was the most sure of bet of all of the position players as a hitter. I’m thrilled for him. Go No. 2 in the country, you have that label on your name the rest of your life. I’m so proud of him and happy for him. He gets to start his pro career, and I don’t think it will be too far down the line that  he’s playing at Great American Ballpark. Hopefully not too long.It’s great for our program to have a guy not drafted out of high school come here and be the No. 2 overall pick.

On Andy Cox

I’m happy for him. Really happy for him. If I was a betting man, I would’ve said Vincent would’ve went before him, but he’s a left-hander who can throw up to 92 with a slider that is hard to hit. He has to get his command issues turned around, but he can be really valuable for an organization. The money figures are mostly the same for seniors if you’re not taken in those first 40 or 50 picks, but the opportunity is what’s important. He’ll be a priority, and I think that’s really cool. And he and Nick will be teammates probably for the first year, and we’ll see how they go up the ladder. He’s a great young man. He passed up the opportunity last year to get his degree. And he got another opportunity.

On Vincent Jackson

Vincent is one of those guys you don’t know how not cheer for. He’s a good kid from a good family and he’s turned into a man before our eyes. I flew out to the West Coast today, and when I landed I found out he was taken by the Cardinals, and I just texted him to tell him how proud I was to be his coach.

On Kyle Serrano as a “token” pick

When you get to the later rounds, there are only so many spots you have in the organization, so sometimes you take a player as a token out of respect even though you know he won’t sign. It’s very similar to when Kyle came out of high school when he was taken by the Rockies in the 29th round. They knew he wasn’t going to sign and he was going to college, but they took him out of respect. Next year, if the Brewers are around, we’re going to remember that they took care of him and they called his name out of respect for the athlete They know Kyle’s not going to sign in the 4th0th round. They pay their respects, but they know his price tag is too high for that round.

On the situation with signee Tre Carter, who did not qualify academically and was taken in the 11th round by the San Diego Padres

We knew when we signed him it was going to be some hard work on his part. We knew there was an opportunity for a casualty, but that he has great upside. We really never planned on him being here unless something extremely turned around. Now he has the opportunity to play professional baseball. He’s going to be a good one.

On the rest of the recruiting class

I’m telling you what thrilled to death with Zach LInginfelter, Garrett Stallings Andrew Schultz. Connor Darling, Duncan Pence. The great thing is they’ve ben communicating with us as a coaching staff through Twitter and text messages. They are as fired up as a group of young men can be to come to Tennessee and get this thing right. They stood strong and they stayed together because they think they can come together and make their situations better in three years when they are eligible again.

UT’s Andy Cox surprised to be seventh-round pick

Andy Cox had every reason to believe the Major League Baseball draft would be a three-day process for him. The Tennessee senior left-hander figured someone would give him an opportunity to play professional baseball, but he didn’t expect it to come in the first 10 rounds.

But he received a call on Friday afternoon that told him things would move much faster than he expected.

“It was pretty surprising and shocking,” Cox said. “The Reds, I haven’t talked to the Reds all season. … The Reds scout called me in like the fourth round and he was just like, ‘I have you on my top senior list. I’ll call you back again. We’re going to most likely take you. No guarantee.’ I was like, ‘OK, sounds good.’ Then in the fifth, sixth round they called me again and said. ‘We’re going to take you next round.’ I was in complete shock. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t expect to go that high. I was just praying for an opportunity no matter where it was.”

The Reds came through and picked Cox in the seventh round, 30 rounds higher than he went last season to the Oakland Athletics before he decided to return for his senior season.

Cox said he had been getting calls from the Cubs, Indians, Brewers, Giants, Tigers and Mariners but not the Reds. However, he said both he and the scout who signed him were excited that he and third baseman Nick Senzel would be in the same organization.

“When I found out the Reds were going to take me, I called Nick,” Cox said. “We were just so pumped for each other knowing that we get to be teammates again and see each other grow through this journey.”

Cox said he doesn’t know if the Reds want him to be a starter or a reliever at the next level, but he knows he has to improve his control after a 3-6 season in which he posted a 6.72 ERA, walking 50 batters but striking out 66.

“I just think throwing more strikes and just keeping the mentality that I know I deserve to be there,” Cox said. “A change-up, if I’m starting, a key change-up would be nice, but if I’m out of the bullpen, I can live off of two pitches, especially if it’s a lefty specialist kind of thing. But just throwing strikes and having fun.”

Nick Senzel and Mock Drafts

Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft begins at 7 p.m. Before that gets started, here are some of the latest mock drafts and Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel’s position in them headed into the evening.

Baseball America has Senzel going No. 2 overall to the Cincinnati Reds after having him going No. 6 to the Oakland Athletics in recent days.

ESPN’s Keith Law has Senzel going to the A’s at No. 6, but has also posted that Senzel could go to the Reds at No. 2.

Both of’s analysts, Jim Callis and Johnathan Mayo, have Senzel going No. 2 to the Reds. 

Sports Illustrated has Oakland taking Senzel at No. 6. also has Senzel going No. 2 to the Reds.

Nick Senzel on list of Golden Spikes Semifinalists

Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel is one of 25 players on the list of semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the nation’s top baseball player. He is one of seven SEC players on the list, which follows.

Seth Beer, OF, Fr., Clemson

Jake Burger, 3B, So., Missouri State

C.J. Chatham, SS, Jr., Florida Atlantic

Zack Collins, C, Jr., Miami

Will Craig, 1B, Jr., Wake Forest

Brett Cumberland, C, So., California

Nick Feight, C, So., UNC-Wilmington

Jameson Fisher, C/IF, R-Jr., Southeastern Louisiana

Anfernee Grier, OF, Jr., Auburn

Thomas Hackimer, P, Sr., St. John’s

Dakota Hudson, P, Jr., Mississippi State

Connor Jones, P, Jr., Virginia

Eric Lauer, P, Jr., Kent State

Kyle Lewis, OF, Jr., Mercer

Brendan McKay, IF/P, So., Louisville

Sheldon Neuse, 3B, Jr., Oklahoma

AJ Puckett, P, Jr., Pepperdine

Heath Quinn, OF, Jr., Samford

Troy Rallings, P, Sr., Washington

Corey Ray, OF, Jr., Louisville

Nick Senzel, 3B, Jr., Tennessee

Jordan Sheffield, P, R-So., Vanderbilt

Logan Shore, P, Jr., Florida

Boomer White, IF, Jr., Texas A&M

Kyle Wright, P, So., Vanderbilt

Butch Jones at SEC Meetings: The Transcript

The transcript of Butch Jones’ press conference at SEC Meetings Tuesday in Destin, Fla.

Opening Statement: Good to see everyone. Kind of an exciting time in our football program. Sunday we welcomed most of our signees and their parents to campus. We really set a three-day orientation with them. Kind of a life skills, development into college and being a student athlete from the academic side of things and just life labs with everything and making sure they understand the standards and the expectations and I told them, its’ been a very, very short period of time where we came in and built the program and now they’re walking into an established football program. Making sure they understand what is required of them in the classroom and the community and the Anderson Training Center. I think the most gratifying thing for me was the amount of upperclassmen and veterans that showed up to welcome our freshman class to help them move into the dorms but also come into the meeting to talk to the parents and the players. As we all know when you have children go away to college, a new life begins, and the anxiety. I went through it last year. So just to have our players, I think that speaks volumes for the culture that we have, the character of young individuals we have in our football program. We will actually get started with school on Wednesday and we’ll start our summer strength and conditioning program on Thursday. Make no mistake about it, we have to have a great, great summer and be a much more explosive, a much stronger football team in moving forward.

Question: Do you think there should be background checks for recruits?

JONES: Everything is about giving a young man an opportunity. Every circumstance, every situation is different. We’re all parents. But we try to do our background checks. We try to be as thorough as possible from social media to Google. But there are some things that hamper you in terms of background with being minors and the age laws that go into that. There’s a lot of things that we’re not able to do. We try to do our due diligence with every individual that we welcome into our football program. I think it’s a challenge in and of itself. But make no mistake about it. The first thing in our recruiting profile is character. We try to research that to the best of our ability, and then make a decision. Do they fit your program? Do you have the players in your program that can help them along the way as well. I think there’s a lot of extenuating circumstances that go into that. Continue reading