Tennessee Volunteers

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Tennessee to open spring without safety Micah Abernathy, seven others

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The Tennessee Volunteers may need to start asking for volunteers to get through the spring if the start of the offseason practice schedule is any suggestion. On Monday, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced eight players on Tennessee’s roster will be ruled out for the start of spring practices. A handful of others will be limited as well.

According to Saturday Down South, those players are safety Micah Abernathy, defensive back Rashaan Gaulden, defensive linemen Kyle Phillips, Shy Tuttle and Kendal Vickers, wide receivers Josh Smith and Brandon Johnson, and offensive lineman Brett Kendrick. The reason for those players being listed as out is not reported, but Jones suggested they are simply not in shape to go all in this spring at this point.

“We need to get them back at full strength,” Jones said. “I do think there will be competition.”

While these players may be down and out for the spring, there is no reason to fear they may be unavailable in the fall. Jones seems optimistic all players will be back and ready to go over the summer, which should be an encouraging sign. Abernathy also tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.

Abernathy was Tennessee’s second-leading tackler in 2016 with 69 tackles, including a team-high 52 solo tackles.

Phillip Fulmer takes shot at Lane Kiffin at Knoxville fundraiser

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If you’re at a speaking engagement in Knoxville and looking for an easy laugh, it never hurts to play the Lane Kiffin card.

Despite it being nearly 10 years ago, Kiffin is still reviled and hated on Rocky Top after leaving as Tennessee’s head football coach after just one year on the job in 2009.  The man Kiffin replaced, Phillip Fulmer, was the keynote speaker at a Catholic Charities fundraiser Thursday night in downtown Knoxville, and used the occasion to tweak the man who replaced him as the coach of the Volunteers.

“I miss coaching every day. I have done quite a few things. I did CBS for a couple of years and that was a lot of fun to get a chance to do that,” Fulmer said according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “But it was real time-consuming.

“I really did it mostly to get me out of town while Kiffin was here.”

Kiffin is the new head coach at Florida Atlantic after a three-year run as offensive coordinator at UT rival Alabama.  Fulmer was in the running for the athletic director job at UT that ultimately went to Kansas State’s John Currie.

(Tip O’ the Cap: GridironNow.com)

SEC Media Days 2017 Schedule Released

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Few things signal the transition from offseason into preseason quite like the annual gathering in Hoover, Alabama every summer that is SEC Media Week Days.

Now we not only have the dates for the annual press tour, but who’s going on what day. The conference has released the full schedule for the 2017 edition of SEC Media Days and it goes as follows:

Monday, July 10

Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, Tennessee’s Butch Jones

Tuesday, July 11

Florida’s Jim McElwain, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason

Wednesday, July 12

Alabama’s Nick Saban, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Missouri’s Barry Odom, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin

Thursday, July 13

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp

Things are still subject to changes between now and mid-July but it’s pretty safe to start making plans if you want to hang out by the escalators in the lobby. The names of the players from each school who will be attending have not been announced yet, but that news should come out later in the summer.

At first glance, it seems like a pretty jammed week. New Tigers coach Ed Orgeron leads off on Monday while SEC East favorites Florida and Georgia headline Tuesday (and don’t discount Dan Mullen getting asked about Ole Miss issues either). The conference king and local legend Nick Saban will be the attraction on Wednesday while Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze and Will Muschamp bat cleanup on Thursday.

Tennessee reportedly fills wide receivers vacancy with FIU coach

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Athletic director is apparently not the only position Tennessee is filling on Tuesday.

Hot on the heels of naming John Currie as the school’s new AD, the Vols are reportedly expected to name Florida International assistant Kevin Beard as the team’s new wide receivers coach.

CanesInSight’s Peter Ariz first reported the move.

Beard will replace former assistant Zach Azzani, who took the same position with the Chicago Bears.

The former Miami receiver joined the FIU staff this offseason after serving as a quality control coach with Georgia last year. Prior to that, Beard was the receivers coach with the Hurricanes for two seasons alongside now-Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott.

For a rather random Tuesday at the end of February, things certainly are busy on Rocky Top.

Tennessee adds future home-and-home with BYU

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At the moment, BYU is looking at one hellacious start to the 2019 season.

Thursday afternoon, BYU announced tat it has added a future home-and-home series with Tennessee.  The Volunteers will serve as the host for a Sept. 7, 2019, matchup at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, with the second game set for Sept. 1 or 2, 2023, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

The 2019 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

“There’s something about those orange and white checkerboard end zones that shouts ‘Tradition!’,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “When the opportunity to play a series with Tennessee presented itself, we didn’t blink. They’re a storied football program with a winning tradition, national championships, a classic stadium, incredible fans and hall of fame coaches.

“It will be a great experience to visit SEC country and play in Neyland Stadium, and later host Tennessee in Provo.”

BYU will kick off the 2019 season against Utah, followed by games against Tennessee, USC and Washington the next three weeks.  They also have a pair of mid-October games against Washington State and Boise State.

UT’s other non-conference games that season include Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.