Vols tune for early kickoff

Tennessee took to the practice field here Saturday for its first local morning workout in an effort to begin acclimating itself for Tuesday's 11 a.m. kickoff. The Outback Bowl annually serves as the debut football game of 2008 and the start time marks UT's earliest this season.

The Volunteers spent an early portion of practice at the University of Tampa polishing up on special teams as Tuesday's matchup against Wisconsin looms.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer addressed the media at an official news conference following practice at the Quorum Hotel. He was asked if one would need to go back to the days of former Vols All-America Al Wilson (1995-98) to find a Tennessee linebacker who has possessed the ability to boast such effectiveness at both the outside and inside positions as current junior Jerod Mayo.

"I think you'd have to," Fulmer said. "(Jerod) is that kind of player. We're hoping this is not his last game. We'd like for him to be around another year to truly use all of that experience and maturity.

"Jerod is quietly the leader of our defense — not only with his play, but with his attitude and work ethic. When he speaks on the practice field, everybody listens."

Mayo played this season at the middle linebacker position but is shifting to the weakside for Tuesday's game against the Badgers. The Hampton, Va., native led the Southeastern Conference this season with 127 total tackles.

"He gives us a chance off the edge to have another guy with quickness and speed as a pass rusher or pursuit guy,"?Fulmer added. "After you adjust those linebackers to different personnel, they end up in a lot of the same places anyway."

The Vols enjoyed a team outing to Busch Gardens later in the afternoon. Sunday's schedule includes a 10:15 a.m. practice, followed by Bowl Beach Day at Clearwater Beach.

InSIDe the Vols - Former Vol Orion McCants, a native of Zephyr Hills, Fla., who now resides in Tampa, stopped by practice with his family Saturday.


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