Reveiz proves doubters wrong

Nick Reveiz had been told by many that he was too short and too slow to play football at Tennessee.

Sure, he'd been a two-time state champion wrestler at Farragut High School and he was an all-state linebacker. But he was only 5-feet-10, weighed about 200 pounds and couldn't run with some former UT linebackers like Kevin Burnett, Al Wilson and Raynoch Thompson.

``You'll never play at Tennessee,'' he was told.

That wasn't the message delivered by his father, Fuad. Fuad was an All-American kicker at UT in the 1980s. He was also a linebacker in high school. He knew what it took to play at Tennessee. And he thought his son had it.

With the support of his father – and few others – Reveiz walked on as a fullback-linebacker in 2006. He made an impression with his play in a spring scrimmage earlier this year.

He made his mark with a fumble recovery on a kickoff return by Southern Miss in the second half of Saturday's 39-19 victory.

To hear ``Reveiz recovers'' blaring over the loudspeakers at Neyland Stadium was the thrill of a lifetime for a redshirt freshman who was told he wasn't good enough.

``I was in the right place at the right time,'' Reveiz said. ``It wasn't anything I did. I just hustled to get on the ball. Dorian Davis made a great play and I reacted.''

For the most part, Reveiz has been in the right place at the right time since the spring. In the first scrimmage in March, he led the team in tackles. It was then that he realized he could play Division I ball and it was then that defensive coordinator John Chavis said Reveiz would one day be in the linebacker rotation.

Reveiz was having another big scrimmage days later when he broke his left leg.

``I was incredibly frustrated,'' Reveiz said. ``It was one of the hardest times I've gone through in my life.''

All the hard work, all the hopes, all the dreams seemed to go up in smoke.

It only motivated him more, just like the doubters.

Reveiz recovered from the broken left leg and won a spot on kick coverage. After the California game, he said he had about 20 text messages and 10 voice messages, congratulating him.

``It was an awesome feeling,'' he said.

He couldn't help but notice some of the well wishers were those that said he shouldn't even try out at Tennessee. Some doubters were his high school teammates.

``People have doubted me all my life,'' Reveiz said. ``It's something I've tried to incorporate into my game, to have a chip on my shoulder. I've taken it personally to the field and to the weight room. I'm trying to prove people wrong.

``It's not that I'm mad at people like that. It's just something I take personally. They're attacking my work ethic and attacking something I love to do. Football is something I can't get enough of.''

Fuad Reveiz was encouraging and supportive. He told Nick he thought he could play for the Vols. When Nick attended a Nike Camp in Athens, Ga., he came away convinced he could play with the D-I guys.

``I said, `I'm going to do whatever it takes to go to Tennessee, whether it's as an invited walk-on or on a scholarship or whatever it is, I'm going to do it,'' Reveiz said.

Reveiz knows the traditions of Tennessee. He knows how special it is to run the `T' before a game. Knowing he could play against Southern Miss, running through the `T' last Saturday was a memorable moment.

``I couldn't breath when I hit the sidelines, I was so pumped up,'' Reveiz said.

When Reveiz reflected on his first big scrimmage last spring, he was told his dad missed some of the plays because he was wrestling with little brother Shane in the stands. Nick wasn't surprised.

``Me and Shane and my dad have always been real physical, goofing around and joking about who can take who,'' Nick said. ``Of course, Shane (also a UT walk-on) thinks he can take me and my dad, and I think I can take my dad and my brother and, of course, dad thinks he can one-handed beat up me and Shane at the same time.

``It's just fun. We're big family people. We love each other and like to play around.''

For Nick, nothing beats playing around in a Tennessee uniform.

BROOKS' WIFE HAS INFLUENCE

The first time Dan Brooks coached in the Tennessee-Florida series, he was a defensive line coach for Florida in 1984.

In a wild scoring affair, Florida won 43-30 in Neyland Stadium.

On the flight back to Gainesville, Brooks wasn't feeling too good about Florida's defense allowing 30 points. His wife, Kathy, approached him on the plane with a message.

``If you ever get a chance to go there, you go,'' Kathy told her husband.

That's not what Brooks was expecting to hear, but it did resonate. He and his wife had been impressed by the UT fans, the stadium, the beauty of the city, the nearby mountains.

Ten years later, Brooks was on the North Carolina staff with Mack Brown.

When Fulmer called, Brooks accepted.

``I had no choice,'' Brooks said.

HAMILTON RANKS ABOUT NO. 8 IN SEC PAY

After Arkansas hired athletic director Jeff Long from Pitt for $450,000, it was revealed that Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton is the lowest paid AD in the SEC at $301,500.

That's a bit misleading.

While Hamilton makes $301,500 in guaranteed money, he also has a $25,000 personal expense allowance and he can receive bonuses of up to $125,000 for athletic and academic achievement. He can also get as much as $30,000 at the discretion of president Dr. John Petersen. The combined total can't exceed $125,000.

Last year, Hamilton made over $400,000, counting bonuses.

That figure would put him about sixth in the SEC, behind Florida's Jeremy Foley ($1 million), South Carolina's Eric Hyman ($455,000), Kentucky's Mitch Barnhart ($436,000) and LSU's Skip Bertman ($425,000). Alabama's Mal Moore makes $400,000.

But we don't know the bonus and incentive structures for those ADs.

If Moore and Georgia's Damon Evans ($390,000) have any bonuses, they would rank ahead of Hamilton in total compensation.


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