Fulmer reflects on 2006 season

When Tennessee's football team assembled for preseason drills last August, head coach Phillip Fulmer said he wanted players who were "fired-up, focused and prepared." When the Vols concluded the regular season last weekend, the coach felt he had gotten his wish.

"I'm proud of this football team and the season they've had, particularly overcoming the number of injuries we've had," he said. "To get nine wins with this schedule and those injuries has been a real plus."

The Vols finished 9-3 overall and 5-3 in SEC play, despite minimal contributions from first-team defensive tackle Justin Harrell and first-team cornerback Inquoris Johnson. Both suffered season-ending injuries in Game 2.

The Vols also lost some key players to short-term injuries. These included first-team quarterback Erik Ainge, tailbacks Arian Foster and LaMarcus Coker, defensive lineman Walter Fisher and linebacker Jerod Mayo.

Tennessee could've gone in the tank – as the 2005 team did – but the 2006 group showed a level of perseverance and camaraderie that enabled it to fight through the difficulties.

"I compliment our senior leadership and our staff," Fulmer said. "It's a tough group of men. They've shown character and toughness. (The season finale vs. Kentucky) was an example of that. It's great to win when you don't play particularly well.

"The players and coaches are tough guys, competitors. They're not going to get too high or too low. I'm really proud of what they've gotten done."

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