If you’re reading this, you have officially become a part of history for clicking on the inaugural InsideTennessee mailbag, a new weekly feature designed to answer all of your pressing questions on everything Tennessee (along with anything else you may be daydreaming about while not working at your job.) This moment will stick with you for the rest of the next 10 minutes of your life. Cherish it, all of you, and prepare to sink your teeth into the most extensive Vols mailbag you’ll ever read at this exact moment. If you don’t see your question below, do not call my boss and ask for him to fire me. That just means I’m either saving it for next week or working to do more research to properly answer it. I don’t want to sound any dumber than I look.
To the questions!
Which player(s) are the best/fastest/etc. in the squat, bench, clean, 40-yard-dash, shuttle? — novol
We’ll start the mailbag with an admission of ignorance. That will reassure you! We really don’t know the answer to all of those questions. I don’t even know if the players themselves do. Jashon Robertson was asked what his max on bench press was during spring practice this year and had to defer to the coaching staff because he didn’t know. Robertson did say he reps 225 pounds a whopping 33 times. That’s tops on the team. As for the 40-yard-dash, there are a couple of contenders in the thick of things, but my nod would likely go to the lightning bolt known as Evan Berry. Kendal Vickers can squat 710 pounds. That means he can squat nearly two-and-a-half Shy Tuttles. Do not mess with Kendal Vickers unless you want to get cracked like a human pistachio.
How about an update on some of our injured guys. Any info on how they are doing going into the summer? — UTfaninmind
It’s all sunshine, daisies and fluffy clouds over honey-dripped rainbows on the injury recovery front for Tennessee right now. At least that’s how coaches have made it seem, albeit in slightly different language. The nine players ruled out of spring practice have not had any significant setbacks that I know of, and the decision for guys like Jalen Hurd and Marquez North to be limited in contact staved off the injury bug like coaches wanted. Freshman linebacker Darrin Kirkland, who suffered a pectoral tear in January, said in April that he plans to be fully cleared to play by June. Even Preston Williams, a class of 2015 signee who isn’t even on campus yet, is healing faster than expected from a gruesome knee injury that has sidelined him since November. That’s good news for a Vols receiving corps that desperately needs him to contribute as soon as possible.
What grade would you give Rick Barnes’ recruiting class so far? — Dan G.
Oh, I get to be a teacher for this one! Can I be the cool teacher who wears a different color bow tie every day and sits cross-legged on his desk while refusing to give homework so as not to conform to societal norms? Thanks. Anyway, Rick Barnes gets a solid B+ from me, with a chance for that to fluctuate up or down as he looks to fill that last scholarship spot. What Barnes has done in his first year at Tennessee isn’t revolutionary. In fact, his current class doesn’t come close to stacking up to most of his former ones at Texas. But what Barnes has done is piece together the necessary and immediate needs for his team with a limited evaluation period and the pressure of being thrust into a new job on the go. He found a combo guard to run the point. He secured two promising big men who will provide length in the post. He’s held on to two talented Donnie Tyndall commits who could have walked. It’s not a class that’s going to crack the Top 25 any time soon, but Barnes went out and got exactly what the Vols needed without missing out on who he’s wanted yet. Gold star for him.
Is it unrealistic to expect Kahlil McKenzie to make an immediate impact? — Jonathan, Maryville
Absolutely not. Even if I thought it was unrealistic I wouldn't admit it for fear of McKenzie busting through my wall like the Kool-Aid Man and body slamming me into my coffee table. I like my coffee table. He’s that much of a beast. It’s almost unfathomable for a freshman defensive lineman to come in and immediately start in SEC play, but that’s just how good Kahlil McKenzie is. He’s already big enough at 6-3, 345 pounds, and he already possesses the power and block-shedding ability to compete against Division I offensive linemen. There will definitely be a learning curve. There’s no question about that. But McKenzie has the size, strength and intangibles to make an immediate impact in the D-line rotation this fall without question.
What is the best lemonade: store bought pre-made, powder, or fresh lemons (what kind?) — NWVol
I think the obvious answer is freshly squeezed lemonade but approximately zero people in the world have time to get lemons somehow and squeeze them to make a juice for themselves. Unless you’re an Egyptian pharaoh or Gwyneth Paltrow, you’re probably not squeezing lemonade. I personally buy the Great Value powder lemonade, which tastes good and is easily manipulated to adhere to your taste by simply adding or subtracting water. Plus it’s only five calories Five calories! I always drink it with a double cheeseburger because the lemonade makes me feel like I’m doing my part to curb diabetes.
Who is the dumbest member on the IT staff? — AFVolunteer
Me. Unequivocally. I forgot what the question was as I was typing this.
Thanks to everyone who sent a question for this first edition of the Monday Mailbag. If you have something you’d like to ask, post it on the InsideTennessee message boards, email email@example.com or tweet @CoryGunkel or @InsideTennessee.
And remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question… just dumb people.