Tennessee is home to one of the largest stadiums in the country. Neyland Stadium holds over 100,000 fans, which can be pretty intimidating for a young player who has never experienced that sort of environment. On Saturday the Vols opened up a practice for fans to enjoy in Neyland Stadium, and 40,000 fans showed up.
”At my junior college, we only had about 200 people at the games,” wide receiver Von Pearson said, per the Associated Press. ”And this is only practice.”
This was the second straight year Tennessee opened a fall camp practice to the public. The open practice is an eye-opening experience for the recruiting class, which was regarded as one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Rivals ranked the Tennessee class fifth in the nation, and nearly half was able to be a part of the spring game for their first glimpse at playing in Neyland Stadium. The other 18 members of the recruiting class got their first taste of playing in front of fans at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
“It was amazing,” freshman linebacker Dillon Bates said. “I definitely had those butterflies coming in, but that was good, you never get those anywhere else. That’s the greatest feeling in the world. To come out of the tunnel to all the fans just to watch a practice, just to show how important this team is to the community, to Vol Nation, it was great to see this turnout.”
Tennessee will open the 2014 season at home in front of a significantly larger crowd on August 31. Utah State and Chuckie Keeton will be the opponent in ne of the more intriguing match-ups of the first weekend of the season.
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.