Heupel, Vols meet with media in advance of fall camp
Tennessee football is creating a lot of buzz and excitement around its program this summer.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee football is creating a lot of buzz and excitement around its program this summer from its recruiting efforts in the 2023 cycle to the improvement their current players are making.
For example, Jabari Small, Tennessee running back, has appeared on some of the sports’ most prestigious watch lists, such as the Doak Walker award.
Small joins quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Cedric Tillman as some of the Tennessee Vols who have landed on the latest preseason watch lists for major individual awards.
This is a program that’s proving they’ve made great strides heading into year two under Josh Heupel’s system.
Last year, they broke eight school records on the offensive side of the football, finished top ten in the country for tackles for loss and five guys were drafted, the most inside the program since 2017.
At SEC Media Days in Atlanta earlier this week, Heupel highlighted the progress he’s seen his team make on and off the field in his first 18 months on Rocky Top.
He specifically addressed the three players that joined in at Media Days: Hendon Hooker, Cedric Tillman, and Trevon Flowers.
“Hendon is a pure winner. He is a great leader inside of our program. I think from year one to year two, that’s one of the things that he’s really been able to gravitate to and grab ahold of, is that leadership component. Everybody inside of our building feels his energy and focus every single day,” said Heupel.
Heupel continued his open statement, “Safety that’s with us, Tre Flowers, a young man from Atlanta. So excited as we got on the plane today about coming home and being able to represent himself, his family, and our program. A fifth-year player that’s made great strides in the off-season, physically changing his body. The focus that he comes into the building every single day with. Another young man that’s really grown on the leadership side of it.”
Heupel talked about his wide receiver, “Cedric Tillman, who a year ago nobody had really heard of. Now he’s regarded as one of the best at his position at wide receiver in the entire country. His work habits a year ago parlayed into him playing the way that he did. Certainly, as we look forward, expect great things from him.”
WVLT Sports asked coach Heupel how rewarding it is to see his player’s hard work begin to pay off as they gain this caliber of national recognition.
“For the guys that are here now, look where they were a year ago and how their hard work has paid off and I’m excited about that and really proud of them too,” he said. “College football to me is such a unique sport and the greatest sport we have it’s 18 to 22-year-olds going through the maturation process, learning how to become the person they want to be and player too. it’s a great journey and one I don’t take for granted to be a part of and who’s next. There are names that I may have not talked about today or that you don’t know but are going to step up and play critical roles in our success.”
Heupel said he’s really proud of the strides his team has made since January and is excited to get training camp rolling in the coming weeks.
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