Vols roll past the Crimson Tide, look to future

Tennessee returned to the practice field this morning after a dominant 52-49 win over Alabama this past weekend.
Tennessee returned to the practice field this morning after a dominant 52-49 win over Alabama this past weekend.
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 7:32 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee returned to the practice field this morning after a dominant 52-49 win over Alabama this past weekend.

The celebrations have continued, and the weekly awards have started to roll in for the Vols. Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt received the Walter Camp National Player of the Week with 207 receiving yards, a new school record of five receiving touchdowns in one game, and averaged 34.5 yards per catch.

Hyatt broke the previous school record of four touchdowns that he set himself in the third quarter.

The Vols were all over the SEC weekly awards, including Darnell Wright as the co-offensive lineman of the week, Hyatt as the offensive player of the week, and Chase McGrath as the special teams player of the week. Tennessee also won the Cheez-It Bowl National Team of the week.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker received accolades of his own, including the Manning Award for Star of the Week, and the Davey O’Brien Great 8, following his performance Saturday night. Hooker threw for a career-high 385 yards and 5 touchdowns, completing 21 of 30 passes.

Coach Josh Heupel spoke on the composure of Hooker, how his short-term memory never lets a missed play get in the way of the next, ”His understanding of the game, allows him when something isn’t perfect or doesn’t go right to understand the why behind it, which gives you confidence and calmness to be able to reset and go and play the next play.”

“There’s no doubt that his confidence and his ability to reset also allows the other 10 guys around him and our entire offensive unit to do that as well. You can’t take that for granted,” he said.

Heupel also gained recognition himself from the historic win, receiving the Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week. Following Saturday’s victory, Heupel said there were “a lot of celebrations in the locker room, as there should be after a win like that.”

The top-10 win for the Vols is promising for the future of the program when it comes to recruiting. Huepel said, “There were a great amount of guys who were here, and that’s important for the future of our program.”

The win for the program is promising for recruiting, but current fans and players are staying in the present, relishing in the historic victory even days later.

Tennessee tight end Princeton Fant said he was is so thankful to be part of something so special, with the people he loves by his side. Fant said, “It’s just a blessing, just my mom, that’s definitely my number one supporter. Somebody that I really do this for.”

Fant said following Saturday’s win, “Now you can see us now, we’re here and we’re hungry, and we want more. We’re gonna continue to fight, and we’re gonna get it done.”

Defensive lineman Omari Thomas said, “...it’s easy to keep focus. Because especially when you got people around you continuing to push you, and y’all have the same common goal, it’s easier to keep focus.” The focus remains steady in practice as the Vols prepare the same way they always do no matter who their next opponent will be.

While the awards have been earned deservedly so, the team’s sights are already set on this weekend’s competition in UT Martin.