Fair returns home

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In recent memory, Terry Fair was known as a local radio co-host of "The Drive" sports talk show on 100.3 FM WNOX, but for Tennessee fans he is something much more.

A former four-year starter at defensive back for Tennessee (1994-97) and a two-time All-SEC honoree in 1996 and 1997, Fair has finally returned to his true home — The University of Tennessee campus.

"It feels great," Fair said Thursday. "It feels right for me. It has been a long time coming and just to get my foot in the door here under coach (Butch) Jones and his staff has been awesome.

"This is home for me being on this side. I have always envisioned myself being a coach, if not at the University of Tennessee, somewhere else, but I am very appreciative of Coach Jones and the opportunity to come learn under Coach Jones and his staff."

And while Fair, the new defensive quality control assistant, may have spend the last several years behind the microphone, it wasn't without a lot of struggle, especially while watching his alma mater struggle through missing the postseason three out of the last five seasons.

Fair was an All-SEC defensive back with the Vols in 1996 and 1997.
"It was rough," Fair said. "Being on the radio every day especially with how things have been going the last couple of years. The calls and the negativity that you had to talk about on a day-to-day basis is not what I envisioned when I went in to radio. This being my alma mater, those things really hurt you as a former player."

And since Jones' arrival in Knoxville, former players have been a top priority, which Fair says has been huge in building the foundation to bring the Vols back to prominence.

"What coach Jones has been able to do in reaching to the former players — those guys are all really excited about Coach Jones," Fair said. "He has been doing everything that he had to, but he hasn't done it because he had to. He did it because that is the type of guy that he is. I know that is the type of guy that he is. He wants to establish those relationships.

"Everything has been a success in the as far as that goes with the former players. I think how it works is, you want those guys to be a part of your program. To move on in the future you can't just discount history. That is always going to be a part of the future and these guys had their hand in building the brand of Tennessee and you want to welcome those guys back."

Fair ranks tied for seventh all-time in UT history with 30 passes defended (19 PBU, 11 INT). On top of that, Fair was a first-round NFL draft pick (No. 20 overall) in 1998 to the Detroit Lions where he spent four seasons before playing with both the Carolina Panthers (2002) and the St. Louis Rams (2005). And it is that distinguished playing career that allowed Fair to be greeted with a warm ovation from players during the team's first meeting of the spring semester Tuesday evening.

"It was pretty cool," said Fair of the reception from the current players. "I know some of these guys from having a mic in my hand and interviewing them. It was pretty cool being back in that meeting room and having these young guys kind of acknowledge me in that way.

"I look forward to working with them and just giving all that I have on and off the field — life lessons that I have learned in my professional and college career as well."

Fair spent three years on the coaching staff at Phoenix College following his professional career, sending four defensive backs to Division I schools to continue their collegiate careers. He finished his degree degree in psychology from Tennessee in 2010 through the athletic department's Renewing Academic Commitment program.

Watch as Fair spoke with reporters Thursday afternoon:


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