Tennessee announces date for second 'Checker Neyland' game

It was considered one of the most memorable games of the University of Tennessee’s 2014 football season.

And the Volunteers did not even win.

So there’s a chance the whole ‘Checker Neyland’ thing can be a bigger success the second time around.

UT officials formally announced Wednesday that this season’s first home game, Sept. 12 against Oklahoma, would be the second attempt to have fans at Neyland Stadium replicate the famed end zone checkerboard pattern in the seats. Ticket holders are asked to wear white or orange, depending on where they sit and the effect is certainly eye-catching.

The school has created a website for ticket holders to check which color they should wear to this year’s game.

The inaugural ‘Checker Neyland’ contest was Oct. 4, 2014 when the University of Florida played in Knoxville.

The Volunteers dropped that one 10-9, which capped a run of three straight defeats that started with a 34-10 loss at Oklahoma.

The Sooners are ranked 19th in the Associated Press top 25. UT is ranked 25th.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Sep 2, 2015 4:15 PM

UT football player arrested for public intoxication along interstate

Andrew Butcher, a freshman defensive lineman for the University of Tennessee, was arrested early Sunday when police officers found him intoxicated and running around on Interstate 40.

A four-star recruit and Under Armour All-American out of Alpharetta, Ga., Butcher was charged with public intoxication, underage possession of alcohol and violating a controlled access roadway, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Arraignment was set for Sept. 10 in Sessions Court.

“We are aware of the situation involving Andrew Butcher and this matter will be handled internally,” UT athletic department spokesman Ryan Robinson told the newspaper, via text message.

From the News Sentinel:

Records state an officer responding to a complaint of someone exhibiting drunken behavior on I-40 found Butcher “running around on 40 East near James White Parkway.”

Butcher told the arresting officer he had been drinking beer, according to records.
 

Sep 1, 2015 1:46 PM

Jones calls on Volunteers fans to make Saturday's opener a sellout

Butch Jones won’t take anything for granted.

The third-year University of Tennessee coach wants to take full advantage of local interest in his program – emphasis on the word full – when the Volunteers open the 2015 season against Bowling Green on Saturday at Nissan Stadium (3 p.m., SEC Network). So he came right out and asked for it.

“We need a home field advantage, and Vol Nation has been outstanding,” Jones said Monday. “When we've asked them to respond, they've responded. When we've asked them to come and fill Neyland Stadium and have 40,000-plus for an open practice, they've responded.

“We need Vol Nation to respond to make this a home field advantage. We need to sell this football game out. Team 119 is calling on our fans to do this, because when you take a home venue, when you take a home game off your campus, one of the things, as your football team, that's critical in college football is the home field advantage.”

Roughly 10,000 seats – all in the upper deck – remain available for Tennessee’s fifth appearance at the home of the Tennessee Titans.

The Volunteers lost the 2010 Music City Bowl to North Carolina, 30-27 in double overtime. They played their twice in 2002 – a 47-7 victory over Wyoming in the opener and a 24-0 victory over Vanderbilt in the final game of the regular season (it was a Vanderbilt home game). Vanderbilt also moved the 2000 matchup there and Tennessee win 28-26.

“When (we) get on the bus to go over to Nashville, everyone has a concrete job description, and being able to execute their assignment [is critical],” Jones said. “I know our players are looking forward to playing in Nissan Stadium and playing in Nashville.”

Now he’s put the responsibility on UT fans to make sure that all seats are sold.

(Photo: UTSports.com)

Aug 31, 2015 1:01 PM

UT signs Warlick to contract extension with sizable raise

Holly Warlick has signed a one-year contract extension that includes a raise in “the $100,000 range” and one additional year in charge of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball program.

The Knoxville News Sentinel confirmed the deal Thursday with a university spokesperson, who added that the pact still requires final approval from university administration, which likely will be next week.

It means Warlick, who is 86-20 in three years as Lady Vols coach, is under contract for the next four seasons. Her teams have won or shared two SEC regular season titles (2013, 2015) and won one SEC tournament championship (2014). Last season UT went 30-6 and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

Warlick’s assistants also will receive pay increases.
 

Aug 27, 2015 7:48 PM

Jones suspends last season's leading receiver for UT's opener

Pig Howard, the University of Tennessee’s leading receiver in 2014, has been suspended for the 2015 opener.

Coach Butch Jones announced the punishment Thursday, nine days before the Volunteers face Bowling Green at Nissan Stadium, and indicated that it could have been worse.

“This isn't something that just occurred, this is something that dates back many months,” Jones said. “However, to Alton's credit, I like the way he's approached training camp. He's had the best training camp he's had since we've been here. I'm appreciative of his efforts, but he will miss the Bowling Green game.”

Howard, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior out of Orlando, Fla., has played 34 games in his college career (19 starts) and has caught at least one pass in each of the last 33. He finished last season with 54 receptions for 618 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball 15 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 27, 2015 1:51 PM

Position change likely to produce playing time for UT's Jennings

It’s not that Jauan Jennings doesn’t think he can play quarterback.

It’s that the former Blackman High School star, now a freshman at the University of Tennessee wanted to play right away. That was not going to happen.

So with the start of preseason camp he switched to wide receiver and the early results have been promising.

“(His transition) has exceeded our expectations right away,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Usually there is a learning curve. ... That has not affected Jauan.”

The Volunteers’ top three receivers all are proven veterans, seniors Pig Howard and Von Pearson and junior Marquez North. Those three will need a break from time to time, though, particularly in the up-tempo offense Jones and his staff prefer.

On the other hand, barring injury, Josh Dobbs will be the one who takes all the snaps at quarterback. For Jennings, therefore, it simply was a matter of opportunity.

“I thought I could play this year,” he said, according to the News Sentinel. “Josh Dobbs, he’s earned the position. I didn’t want to sit down on the sidelines. I wanted to explore my talents and see what I could do. I didn’t play until I got here, I never played receiver before but with my talent and skill set, it kind of is natural.

“... I knew in the back of my mind I wasn’t going to play unless I made the transition. Just talking with Coach Jones, we talked about it and I finally was just like, ‘Let’s just go ahead and do it.’ ”
 

Aug 26, 2015 9:58 PM

Barnett one of four Volunteers on coaches' preseason All-SEC teams

Southeastern Conference coaches expect Derek Barnett to pick up this season right where he left off the last one.

The defensive end out of Brentwood Academy was one of four University of Tennessee players named to the coaches’ preseason All-SEC team, released by the conference office Tuesday.

Barnett was a 2014 All-SEC second-team selection as a true freshman (he also was second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press) when he played all 13 games (10 starts) and set program records for sacks (10) and tackles for loss (20.5) by a freshman. His 72 tackles were the most in the conference by a freshman.

Linebacker Curt Maggitt was named to the first team, defensive back Cameron Sutton joined Barnett on the second team and quarterback Joshua Dobbs made the third team.

This is the 13th year SEC coaches have voted on preseason all-conference teams. They were not allowed to vote for players from their own programs.

PRESEASON COACHES ALL-SEC TEAMS

OFFENSE

    First Team
    QB: Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
    RB: Nick Chubb, Georgia
    RB: Leonard Fournette, LSU
    WR: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
    WR: Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
    TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss
    OL: Cam Robinson, Alabama
    OL: Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
    OL: Vadal Alexander, LSU
    OL: John Theus, Georgia
    C: Mike Matthews, Texas A&M
    AP: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
    Second Team
    QB: Maty Mauk, Missouri
    RB: Derrick Henry, Alabama
    RB: Alex Collins, Arkansas
    WR: D'haquille Williams, Auburn
    WR: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
    TE: Hunter Henry, Arkansas
    OL: Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
    OL: Dan Skipper, Arkansas
    OL: Denver Kirkland, Arkansas
    OL: Greg Pyke, Georgia
    C: Ryan Kelly, Alabama
    AP: Leonard Fournette, LSU
    Third Team
    QB: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn *
    QB: Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee *
    RB: Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
    RB: Russell Hansbrough, Missouri
    RB: Kelvin Taylor, Florida
    WR: Demarcus Robinson, Florida *
    WR: Travin Dural, LSU *
    WR: Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M *
    TE: O.J. Howard, Alabama
    OL: Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas
    OL: Alex Kozan, Auburn
    OL: Devonte Dazney, Auburn
    OL: Brandon Shell, South Carolina *
    OL: Jordan Swindle, Kentucky *
    C: Evan Boehm, Missouri
    AP: Speedy Noil, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

    First Team
    DL: Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
    DL: A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
    DL: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
    DL: Chris Jones, Mississippi State
    LB: Reggie Ragland, Alabama
    LB: Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
    LB: Curt Maggitt, Tennessee
    DB: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
    DB: Cyrus Jones, Alabama
    DB: Jonathan Jones, Auburn
    DB: Jalen Mills, LSU
    Second Team
    DL: Jonathan Bullard, Florida
    DL: Derek Barnett, Tennessee
    DL: Jonathan Allen, Alabama
    DL: Montravius Adams, Auburn
    LB: Kendell Beckwith, LSU
    LB: Antonio Morrison, Florida
    LB: Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
    DB: Tony Conner, Ole Miss (117)
    DB: Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
    DB: Will Redmond, Mississippi State
    DB: Tre'Davious White, LSU
    DB: Tony Conner, Ole Miss
    Third Team
    DL: Carl Lawson, Auburn
    DL: Davon Godchaux, LSU
    DL: Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt
    DL: Ryan Brown, Mississippi State
    LB: Leonard Floyd, Georgia
    LB: Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn
    LB: Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
    DB: A.J. Stamps, Kentucky
    DB: Eddie Jackson, Alabama
    DB: Rohan Gaines, Arkansas
    DB: Johnathan Ford, Auburn
    DB: Trae Elston, Ole Miss

SPECIALISTS

    First Team
    P: JK Scott, Alabama
    PK: Marshall Morgan, Georgia
    RS: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
    Second Team
    P: Jamie Keehn, LSU
    PK: Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky
    RS: Leonard Fournette, LSU *
    RS: Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia *
    Third Team
    P: Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
    PK: Elliott Fry, South Carolina
    RS: Darrius Sims, Vanderbilt
    RS: Speedy Noil, Texas A&M

(Photo: Getty Images)
 

Aug 25, 2015 4:18 PM

Summitt plans to continue as Lady Vols' head coach emeritus

Pat Summitt plans to remain head coach emeritus of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team for at least one more season.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported Monday that the sport’s all-time winningest coach will sign a one-year contract that is virtually identical to others that she has had since she stepped down as Lady Vols coach in April 2012. That is expected to happen within the next two weeks.

From the News Sentinel:

Summitt's contract last year provided a salary of $75,000 and complementary season tickets and parking passes to UT sporting events.

Summitt continues to receive a monthly stipend as part of the state's pension system. Last summer, the News Sentinel reported that Summitt receives $15,000 per month.

She coached the Lady Vols for 38 seasons and won eight national championships. She retired months after she was diagnosed with early onset dementia Alzheimer's type.
 

Aug 25, 2015 6:34 AM

UT makes it two for two in preseason top 25 rankings

The University of Tennessee has nowhere to go but up.

Unless it drops out of college football’s two primary rankings, that is.

The Associated Press preseason top 25, released Sunday, has the Volunteers to No. 25. That’s the same spot they occupied in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, which was released late last month.

So UT will open the season as the top 25’s version of Miss Congeniality. Even that, though, is noteworthy given the difficulty the program has had in recent years turning the heads of voters.

From the UT athletics department:

The Volunteers last appeared in the AP Poll on Sept. 12, 2012 when it was listed at No. 23. Sunday's announcement marks UT's first appearance in the preseason edition of the AP poll since the 2008 season and its 39th appearance in the poll all-time. That year, Tennessee began the year in the No. 18 spot.

The season-opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 5 now stands as the first time since 2008 that the Volunteers will take the field while ranked simultaneously in both major college football polls.

Tennessee is the last of eight SEC programs among the AP’s preseason top 25, led by No. 3 Alabama. Mississippi State and Texas A&M are the first two among ‘others receiving votes.’
 

Aug 24, 2015 5:05 AM

Berry gets emotional about first game action since cancer diagnosis

Eric Berry was on a plane Friday when he began to ponder the road he’d traveled over the past nine months.

During a flight to Phoenix on Friday, he was moved to tears as he reviewed his personal journey from last November, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, to last weekend, when he returned to professional football in the Kansas City Chiefs’ preseason opener.

“It just all hit me,” Berry said, according to ESPN.com. “I don't think anyone can really understand the road I took, the sacrifices I had to make, the feelings I had going through those times, just to be able to experience the things I mentioned to you at the beginning. You take the little things, and you appreciate everything about the game and everything that surrounds the game.

“It's a blessing to be out here, and I'm going to take full advantage of the opportunity I have.”

Berry, an All-American safety at the University of Tennessee, did not start but played a series when the Chiefs went to the nickel defense. He was not credited with any tackles or assists but that was not the point.

He was diagnosed Nov. 20 and began chemotherapy days later. He finished treatment in May and was declared cancer-free a month later. He was cleared to practice in time to take part in a three-day minicamp that concluded the Chiefs’ offseason training.

For many, his return is a victory in itself. Not for him, though.

“I've got to take advantage of this opportunity because it's bigger than football,” Berry said. “... It's just amazing seeing how everybody else gets so much hope just from seeing me strap on the pads even before I could get on the field. Just to see me practice and see me out there on the team does so much for them. So I've got to go hard. I've got to give everything I've got.”

 
(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 17, 2015 5:10 AM