No matter the Volunteers' record or who the head coach is, the fanatics always find a way to make it out to Neyland Stadium to show their support. That fact will always be a tool the organization can use to turn the head of high school recruits.
Tennessee quarterback commitment Riley Ferguson unofficially visited Saturday and came away thoroughly impressed with the atmosphere in Knoxville.
"I mean it's unbelievable," Ferguson told InsideTennessee. "I've never been here before. So, being here my first time I was shocked how loud it was on third downs and stuff on the defensive side. I couldn't believe how loud it got and I really liked it."
The Vols lost a heartbreaker to Missouri 51-48 in four overtimes and saw their record drop to 4-6. The Charlotte, N.C., native witnessed the Big Orange post 585 yards of total offense, including 432 through the air. Quarterback Tyler Bray completed 37 of 54 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
"I thought (Bray) did pretty good throwing the ball," the FOX Sports NEXT three-star said. "At the end of the game, on the fourth-and-two, we probably should have ran it. Every time we ran the ball we were getting at least 2 yards every time. So, I think we should have went with that a little more but other than that I think it was overall a good game."
Seated in the front row behind the north end zone, Ferguson got a great look at Tyler Drummer's running in a fake field goal in the second overtime.
"I like that," the David W. Butler (N.C.) High School standout said laughingly. "I was recording. I thought they were just going to kick a field goal, so I stopped recording. Then, they ran a fake. I was mad I didn't record it cause they ended up scoring on that play."
It doesn't make much difference to the right-hander who the head coach on The Hill is. He admits he fell in love with Rocky Top and is honoring his pledge even if Derek Dooley is not back for 2013.
"Yes sir, I definitely think I'll still stick with Tennessee. I feel like this is the right school for me, and it feels like home. So, I think I'm going to stick with it."
The Class of 2013 signal-caller missed time his senior season after breaking the thumb on his throwing hand at the base while weight training.
"I'm almost back at 100 percent now," he said. "They said 6-8 weeks and it's about at Week 7 now. So, I should be pretty good in the next couple weeks. It doesn't even hurt that bad anymore."
Butler eliminated West Forsyth 49-0 in the opening round of the NCHSAA Class 4AA state playoffs in a game in which Ferguson completed 16 of 23 passes for 249 yards with five touchdown passes to five different receivers. They then took out Independence 55-26. The future Vol and the passing game weren't needed much with Channing Stribling (Michigan commit) putting on a show, but Ferguson threw for 188 yards and three TDs.
The Bulldogs lock up with East Forsyth in a state quarterfinal at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte on Friday. Both teams are 12-0. The victor gets the Mallard Creek-Olympic winner.
The state championship is at Kenan Stadium at UNC-Chapel Hill on Dec. 1. Ferguson likes his team's chances of being there.
"We're pretty strong," Ferguson said. "We won it my sophomore year, and I feel like we're stronger than we were that year. So, I think that we should win it this year."
Ferguson got an invitation to the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Dallas but passed with it coming so close to Christmas. He plans to take his official visit to Tennessee during the basketball season and will enroll during the second summer session in July.