The dreaded phone call

After Vanderbilt upset Tennessee in 2005, Nick Reveiz knew the phone call was coming.

Reveiz's grandfather on his mother's side, Ed Collins, is a Vanderbilt graduate. Collis is as much black and gold as the Reveiz family is orange and white.

So when the Commodores scored their first win over the Vols since 1982, Collins called.

``Oh my gosh, I got it forever,'' Reveiz said. ``My Poppa was on me, it was just ridiculous.''

That's not the only time young Nick heard from grandpa.

``It wouldn't matter if it was bowling, he'd call me if Vanderbilt beat Tennessee,'' Reveiz said. ``I remember one time with girls basketball, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee and he called me and said, `Nick, Vanderbilt won.'''

This Saturday, Reveiz, a redshirt freshman linebacker and special-teams demon, will play against Vanderbilt for the first time. He has a healthy dislike for Vanderbilt, handed down to him by his father, Fuad, a former All-American kicker for the Vols. Fuad learned to dislike Vandy from his kicking coach, George Cafego.

Some families hand down heirlooms.

The Reveizs hand down hate for Vanderbilt.

``My dad never really hated any team, but he definitely doesn't like Vanderbilt,'' Nick said.

Collins knows that. That's why he picks on Nick.

``In 2005, I was at the point I was going to Tennessee,'' said Nick, an all-state football player and wrestler at Farragut High School. ``I took it (UT's loss to Vandy) personally. We (he and his grandfather) joked back and forth and jabbed at each other. It's a good little rivalry.''

Grandfather even calls Fuad to rub it in.

How did Fuad feel about UT losing to Vandy for the first time in 23 years?

``He wasn't happy, I'll tell you that,'' Nick said. ``I remember him telling me the story then about Coach Cafego. That's when I realized Coach Cafego really didn't like Vanderbilt.''

A couple of years ago, Collins was in Nick's ear about another thing.

``When I was thinking about where to go to college, he was like, `Nick, you put on that orange, I might just croak over and die. I want you to go to Vanderbilt,''' Nick said. ``I love my grandfather. He just likes to make fun.''

Nick followed his heart to Tennessee.

``He said if I end up playing here, he'd one day come,'' Reveiz said. ``He hasn't come yet. But hopefully, one day, maybe. I don't know when he's going to come. He's a big Vanderbilt fan. He's black and gold all the way through.''

As a true freshman at UT, Reveiz played some fullback. He was moved to linebacker last spring and had a terrific scrimmage before an injury sidelined him. His performance caught the eye of defensive coordinator John Chavis, who said Reveiz would one day help the Vols at linebacker.

Reveiz is the third-team middle linebacker, behind two juniors – Jerod Mayo and Ellix Wilson. He has played one snap at the position, making a late-game tackle against Southern Miss.

``Every week I'm trying to get better and take in what Coach Chavis is telling me,'' Reveiz said. ``And I'm trying to learn from the older guys, like Mayo and Wilson. I think I'm improving but I think I can make some big strides in the spring. I'm looking forward to working hard in the offseason and hopefully earning a role on the team at middle linebacker.''

Reveiz has already earned a role on special teams. He is second in special teams tackles with eight, behind only Nevin McKenzie's 12. It's rare when a game goes by that you don't hear Reveiz' name on a kick-return tackle.

``Special teams have been a great opportunity for me,'' Reveiz said. ``I've been trying to make the most of it. I try to give all the effort I have on the field and try to make something happen.''

Tennessee's defense had an exceptional game against Arkansas, holding the Hogs to 127 rushing yards, about 190 below their average. Arkansas also scored just 13 points – 29 below its average.

Often times when a team plays a terrific game, it has a letdown.

Is that a concern for Vanderbilt?

``I don't think so,'' Reveiz said. ``I think the way we're playing right now, we're treating everyone the same. We've got to get up and play the best team ball we can.

``We have to play together, not as individuals. I think we're past that as a team.''

The SEC Championship game is at the Georgia Dome. Hs anyone on the team mentioned Atlanta?

``Yeah, there are whispers in the back, of course,'' Reveiz said. ``It's in our minds, but it's not something we're focusing on right now.... Right now, it's Vanderbilt and we have to win this game to get to Atlanta.''

If the Vols don't, Reveiz knows he'll get a dreaded phone call from Ed Collins.

For Reveiz, there's nothing worse than hearing from grandpa after a Vanderbilt win.


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