Going through hundreds of photos for the upcoming InsideTennessee Recruiting Yearbook, I found some images that likely were not seen by Tennessee Vols fans that I thought I'd share. Some have an obvious meaning and others have a story behind them. Here's a look at what I found:
Todd Kelly Jr. spoke glowingly about Tennessee football the first time I interviewed him after a game his sophomore season at The Webb School in Knoxville. Following in his father's footsteps, Kelly saw a childhood dream come true, running through the T wearing the orange for the first time on Aug. 31.
Jashon Robertson (73) and Jalen Hurd (1) go back a long ways having played middle school and high school football together in Nashville. The two reuniting as Vols with Robertson — typically — blocking for Hurd is special for their families. However, on this occasion Robertson caught a deflected ball at Georgia and Hurd arrived to help out.
Some of the more ignorant members of the fan base were harder on Nathan Peterman than they should have been. Being a back-up quarterback is no simple task and Peterman was placed in some of the toughest positions possible in filling in for Justin Worley the last two seasons. Here Peterman gets blown up by Georgia's Jordan Jenkins while Worley was on the sideline after getting banged on the throwing elbow. Worley told me later that he'd never been hit as hard as Peterman was that day in Athens.
Always try to make a trip by the corner of the end zone where Smokey hangs out on gameday. Smokey X is a bit more photogenic than IX was but quite a bit more passive around neighbors. As a dog lover, it's always a treat to get to pet the blue-tick with similar Shelbyville roots.
Former InsideTennessee employee Riley Blevins spoke about how bad Vols fans will miss the offensive line from the 2013 season. So, from the you-don't-know-what-you-have-til-it's-gone department, we have Ja'Wuan James on the sideline of a game last fall, sharing a laugh while in town from a weekend off with the Miami Dolphins. Tennessee missed having a pure tackle out wide like James, who started all four years in orange. On a side note, it seems as though more former Vols are around than in previous years, checking out gameday.
What those in the stadium get to see isn't always what's seen on television, particularly during timeouts. Here we see Butch Jones disputing an official decision. Jones doesn't take a laid-back approach when he feels his team is getting the butt end of a call.
Two seasons ago it seemed as though Trevarris Saulsberry was going to make a major impact on Tennessee football, even looking more productive than now-Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Daniel McCullers. Unfortunately for Saulsberry, he's been plagued by the injury bug. His career reminds of some others such as Greg King and Herman Lathers that showed so much promise early but the surgeon's knife met their flesh too often.
If you watch closely, you'll never see less than three staff members signaling in plays to the Tennessee quarterback. Included in that group is Zach Azzanni (pictured) and Robert Gillespie. Opposing sidelines tend to have an expert at picking up signals or deciphering a game plan. So sending in dummy calls is essential. Here's Azzanni signaling in something. Was it the play or something totally irrelevant?
Former Tennessee standout quarterback Heath Shuler (left) shares a laugh with Tennessee head equipment manager Roger Frazier and assistant athletics director Condredge Holloway prior to kickoff in South Carolina. Shuler had just spent time with Antone Davis as well. Still hope to one day see a quarterback wearing 20-something again.
Tennessee cornerback Cameron Sutton and linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) lock arms after making a play in Oxford. The Vols defense was something to behold the first quarter against the then-undefeated Rebels. Although the offense provided zero help when it could have put the game away early, the defense came up big several series in a row. The 2014 Vols struggled to put a complete game together often.
"What's all that loud music!" Complain all you want but developing an atmosphere that gets the current players' juices flowing and impresses recruits is more important than some fans not liking the selection of music. Former Tennessee quarterback Sterling Henton is the man mixing tracks by the sideline every home game. The energy he brings is impressive to see.
Fans of both Tennessee and Vanderbilt look into the stadium in Nashville to see the Commodores and Volunteers lock up last November. The garage in which they were stationed rests behind the north end zone scoreboard and has a bird's eye view of the game field.
Running into the T is something myself and several other photographers and video personnel do most home games. The view is pure pageantry and is the closest thing to being in uniform yourself. Here Jordan Williams waves to the orange-clad crowd as he makes the trot for the final time on Senior Night. It's a way of saying thanks that's singular to Tennessee football.
As a former walk-on student-athlete myself, it always brings a smile to my face to see someone earn a spot and get a chance to contribute. Jacob Gilliam waited years for his starting job and didn't hand it over in spite of having to play with a left hand in a cast and a torn knee ligament. In this picture, Gilliam runs off the field for the final time for Tennessee during the second half of the TaxSlayer Bowl.