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Patrick Willis says he cried when Tennessee didn’t recruit him in high school

Patrick-Willis-NinersSan Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis had dreams growing up like any other kid who plays football. And like most others, not all of them came true. In the long term, Willis achieved his goal. He is an NFL linebacker and arguably the best in the game. However, Willis had one let down when he was still in high school that he says brought him to tears.

Willis grew up in Bruceton, Tenn. with dreams of playing for the University of Tennessee. To his disappointment, the Vols never showed any interest.

“I wanted to go there so bad,” Willis told The Tennessean on Monday. “After every (high school) game my dad and I would get in the car and drive five hours to go to Knoxville to watch them play on an unofficial visit. This was on our gas money and our time. I just wanted to show them how bad I wanted to be there.”

It apparently had no effect. Tennessee never recruited Willis at any point during his senior year of high school. He ended up at Ole Miss, and from there he went on to be selected by the Niners in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Everything worked out for the best, but Willis was not shy in discussing how crushed he was that the Vols didn’t want him.

“I can’t forget being there and you have all these other big-time recruits there and they are shaking their hands and the coaches are talking to them,” he explained. “The coaches never shook my hand. They never talked to me. …

“I’ll never forget getting in the car with my foster dad and we’re riding home and I cried. I cried, not because I was sad, but more so because I knew how badly I wanted to be a Tennessee Vol. I knew what type of player I could be.”

Tennessee missed out. Ole Miss is glad they did. As Willis put it, “The Lord had a plan for me.” Had he gone to Tennessee, who knows if he would have ended up being drafted by San Francisco. Considering the Niners are about to compete for a Super Bowl, I’d say the Vols did him a favor.

H/T SbB Live

Crazy report: Tennessee booster Jim Haslam offers Jon Gruden ownership stake in Cleveland Browns to coach Vols

As far as college football coaching reports go, it doesn’t get more crazy than this one.

On Tuesday night, WREG-TV in Memphis published a report saying that Tennessee booster Jim Haslam offered Jon Gruden an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns as a source of compensation for him to coach the Vols.

We don’t pass along the report for its news value (there are many questionable attributions to the report), but for its comedic aspects.

First, let’s take a look at what makes it so funny, which starts with Tennessee’s obvious desperation.

The Vols have been chasing after Gruden since 2009. Gruden, who was the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl (accomplished at age 39 with the Buccaneers in the 2002 season), was fired by Tampa Bay following the 2008 season. The University of Tennessee fired Phillip Fulmer the same year. There was no shortage of rumors that the Vols were pursuing Gruden to fill the job.

Tennessee ended up hiring Lane Kiffin, who bolted for USC after a year. They replaced him with Derek Dooley, who appeared overmatched in three seasons as the Vols’ head coach.

[Read more...]

Tyler Bray: ‘I’m paid to win football games’

If and when Tyler Bray moves on to play ball in the NFL, he can officially say he is getting paid to play football. At the moment, Bray is on a full scholarship at Tennessee, which most people consider to be a totally different concept than getting paid to play. As we know all too well, getting paid to play in college athletics is a big no-no.

On Tuesday, the Volunteers quarterback chose his words poorly when discussing the team’s most recent loss to Missouri.

“I’m paid to win football games,” Bray told reporters according to USA TODAY.

Naturally, every reporter in the room perked up and one asked Bray to clarify the statement. He quickly realized he had uttered a forbidden sentence and attempted to elaborate.

“I mean… my education,” he said. ” That’s what the SEC likes to call ‘getting paid.’”

If you ask Cecil Newton, he would probably tell you that the SEC has an entirely different interpretation of “getting paid” and it has nothing to do with playing under a full scholarship. It’s something Nick Saban and a number of other coaches have been accused of, and it is a very sensitive subject.

We’ll give Bray the benefit of the doubt and assume it was just an expression. And if not, the Vols and their 0-6 SEC record might need to consider paying a little more.

Tennessee’s new football training facility will include an MMA cage

The Tennessee Vols had $45 million and 145,000 square feet to work with for their new state-of-the-art football facility, so head coach Derek Dooley wanted to make sure ever inch of it was put to good use. Well, sort of. As you can see from the promotional video above, construction is underway on the new training center. It includes everything from a spacious locker room with iPod and cell phone chargers at each locker to a hydrotherapy room and an eating room that Dooley calls a “restaurant.” Oh yeah, and it has a mixed martial arts cage.

Why? Your guess is as good as ours. After hearing the explanation Dooley gave to the Knoxville News Sentinel, you’ll likely still be completely puzzled.

Players will be able to walk straight from the 120-yard practice field into the new weight room — a 22,000 square foot “multilevel thunderdome of power,” as it’s called in UT’s promotional video for the facility. Along with the standard free weights, machines, cardiovascular training equipment — which will be situated on a deck that overlooks the weight room — and a nutrition bar, it will feature a mixed martial arts cage “so we can go in and fight and all that stuff,” Dooley said.

The cardiovascular equipment, the nutrition bar and all that stuff makes sense, but can anything good come of having an MMA cage in a football facility? How many injuries are going to come as a result of 250-pound college kids beating the crap out of each other for fun in the octagon? Maybe this is all some sort of elaborate prank that Dooley and the Tennessee program have put together to screw with us. Or maybe I just need to get with the times?

Let’s just hope whoever paints and letters the doors of the facility is a bit more careful this time around.

Helmet back to Dr. Saturday for passing the story along

Tennessee Called Frat House for Kicker Derrick Brodus an Hour Before Kickoff

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  We’re not big on cliches here at LBS, but if the shoe fits…oops.  Anyway, when last second injuries left Tennessee coach Derek Dooley without anyone to kick field goals last weekend against Middle Tennessee State, he had to place an interesting phone call.  Luckily, former high school kicker and All-State soccer player Derrick Brodus wasn’t too busy at the frat house to rush out to the stadium.

“We didn’t have a kicker,” Dooley said according to Go Vols Xtra. “And we had to make a call to the frat house. This is no lie. We called the frat house and had a policeman go get him.”

“Let’s get a call to Brodus,” Dooley told his staff, “and it’s a good thing he wasn’t having too much Saturday afternoon (fun). I told the coaches, ‘Hey, an intoxicated Brodus is better than nobody. Just get him here and we’ll do a Breathalyzer.’ Fortunately, he didn’t have anything bad.”

At UCLA they reach out to soccer managers when in need of kickers.  The Vols bring in the frat boy. Brodus has not yet turned 21, so naturally he wasn’t drinking.  Despite getting the call a mere 50 minutes before kickoff, he was able to suit up in time to convert all three point-after attempts and nail a 21-yard field goal.  Not bad for someone who was lounging around waiting for the game to start — not expecting to be part of the win.

“I was just laying on the couch watching football,” Brodus said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what was going on. “I thought it was a dream. I was just laying down on the couch relaxing. I answered the phone and they just told me to come to the stadium as soon as possible.”

Nothing like a typical Saturday afternoon, right?

Helmet smack to SI Hot Clicks for the story.

Nashville Restaurant Adds Fried Gator to Menu Ahead of Tennessee-Florida Game

Florida hosts Tennessee in the SEC opener for both teams Saturday. One Nashville restaurant is in rivalry mode and added fried gator to its menu this week to prepare for the game:

That picture was tweeted by Nashville radio host Clay Travis, whose 3 Hour Lunch show broadcasted live from the restaurant on Thursday. Some of you out there may be thinking that fried gator is gross, but I caution you: it’s not that bad. Not only does anything taste good deep fried (except broccoli), but I’ve actually had crocodile before and it’s pretty good. I can’t imagine gator is much different.

But hey, if this is how some SEC fans want to get pumped for their game, I’ll take it. It’s certainly much better than some of the other fan nonsense we’ve seen recently.

Tennessee Football: Where ‘Opportunity is Nowhere’

Kentucky Sports Radio posted that picture under the heading “Tennessee Football Learns That Proper Spacing Is Everything.”

Precisely.

It took me five full minutes of staring at that picture like Willam and the scooner before I realized it’s supposed to say “Opportunity is now here.” Maybe using capital letters isn’t always the best idea. And maybe crappy slogans isn’t either.

Thanks to Eye on College Football for the link