Four times this season 102,455 fans filled Neyland Stadium. On the road, Vols fans made their presence known and even against one of the top five teams in the country, made Oxford seem like a neutral site.
From a loud cheering roar, to sighs of exasperation, to boos. From saying thanks to criticizing players and coaches via social media there are always incidents in large, passionate fan bases that show the best and worst in collegiate athletics.
Tennessee is no exception.
“For the most part it’s been all positive,” freshman tight end Ethan Wolf said. "It’s a great fan base here. Vol Nation’s unbelievable.”
While that’s the consensus, there are moments when the loud minority will use social media or other means to criticize a player who made a mistake on the field.
“Twitter is something that can be, as far as self-esteems concerned, a positive or a negative,” Wolf said. “I think it’s kind of funny when you get tweets at you after, for instance, the Bama game. There’s some people that tweet at you some negative things but you just got to blow it off negative or positive.”
How about being a freshman kicker with a fan base as large and passionate as Vol Nation? Aaron Medley did hit a game-winner against South Carolina but also has missed a few that caused a negative reaction from some of the fans.
"It’s very humbling.” Medley said. “It’s also a reminder that I have a standard to keep here at Tennessee.”
The season has been full of ups and downs. When fans that invest so much of their happiness into how their team does, a down moment can lead to things said based off of emotion.
One of those down moments would have been the loss to Missouri, a game Vols fans expected to win. However, Wolf describes the post-game fan interaction as being nothing but positive.
“I walked out after Missouri,” Wolf said. "It was midnight and there’s hundreds of people waiting for autographs and pictures. It’s a great fan base and I wouldn’t want to play for any other one in the country.”
The players we spoke to made it clear that the majority of the fan base is very supportive and the feedback on social media is mostly positive.
“Through the twitter notifications,” Aaron Medley said, "I get 'Keep your head up.' 'Do a great job.' 102,455 for four games this year, that doesn’t happen every where, so it’s something you have to respect.”
Senior Jordan Williams has been around for the worst and now the turning of the corner. He has had the chance to see the worst that one of the largest fan bases in the country have to offer. Still, Williams has only good things to say about the people who have watched him take the field for four years.
“Tennessee has some of the most loyal fans in the nation,” Williams said. "These last few years we haven’t really been the best and they stood by us. So I appreciate them.”
In every large crowd there is guaranteed to be a few people that do their best to make the entire group look bad. Yet, out of the millions of people who set aside their Saturday’s to watch their beloved Vols play, almost all do so with respect for the 18 to 22-year olds that take the field in orange and white.
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