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Football Vols reflect as Senior Day approaches

About a dozen players are preparing for their final game in Neyland Stadium
Alontae Taylor
Alontae Taylor(WVLT)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 4:48 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - With Tennessee football set to round out its 2021 regular season on Saturday against Vanderbilt, the Vols took Haslam Field Tuesday morning to begin implementing preparations to face the Commodores. Defensive coordinator Tim Banks and three Tennessee super seniors—defensive back Theo Jackson, defensive lineman Matthew Butler and defensive lineman Caleb Tremblay—met with members of the media to preview the in-state rivalry.

Another senior set to make his final run through the famed T is cornerback Alontae Taylor, who received some high praise from defensive coordinator Banks.

UT will honor its seniors with a pregame ceremony and looks to send the class out victorious in its final game at Neyland Stadium this season. “These seniors have been tremendous,” Banks said. “Obviously, we’re a new staff coming in. These guys have done everything we’ve asked them to do. They’ve really honestly been a pleasure to work with. We really wish we could get those guys back. “It’s always special, senior night or senior day. As we tell those guys, football is unique. You’re not playing pick-up tackle football. For some of these guys, this will be the last time they play. If they’re blessed and fortunate enough, they’ll play some more years, but you only get one senior night in college. This thing goes by fast, so we’re going to enjoy it and do everything we can to send those guys out a winner.” 

Jackson elected to return for a fifth year of eligibility this season and has had his most productive campaign in 2021. The Nashville native has shined on the defensive side of the ball with 69 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups in his last year of college football. He will make his final run through the T on Saturday and spoke to the emotions surrounding that moment with local media on Tuesday. “Right now, it’s bittersweet,” Jackson said. “I’ve been here for a while. I’ve enjoyed my time but also, I feel like I haven’t done enough still. Running through the T for the last time is going to be fun, but it’s also going to be a little bit of emotion. It will be alright.” 

While meeting with the media on Tuesday, Jackson and fellow senior mattew Butler decided to have a little NIL fun with eachother.

Tremblay enters Senior Day with a different perspective, having transferred to Rocky Top for his final year of eligibility after graduating from Southern Cal last year. The defensive end has earned starts in back-to-back games and reflected on his last five months at Tennessee and the impact his teammates and coaches have made on his football career. “I’ve learned so much as a player from a lot of the seniors,” Tremblay said. “A lot of those guys do things the right way. They are great leaders and great players. I feel like I’ve elevated my game by just being around those guys in that room. Coach G (Rodney Garner) too, he’s brought my game to another level. “This is the first time, I would think, in a while where I’ve really felt my growth as a player and been proud of it. I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries the last two years. This is the first year I’ve felt my growth as an individual. A lot of that has to do with a lot of those guys and seeing the right way and how they work.” 

Tennessee (6-5, 3-4) and Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7) will square off at 3:45 p.m. ET on SEC Network. Tickets are available at AllVols.com.

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