GPA's are up, arrests are down

The fact that more Tennessee football players are showing up on the Dean's List and fewer are showing up on the police blotter has the Vols' new head coach encouraged as the 2009 season approaches.

"I'm really excited about where our program is right now," Lane Kiffin said during a Tuesday morning news conference.

In spite of instability at quarterback, injuries at receiver and depth concerns at both offensive and defensive tackle, the new head man believes the program is headed in the right direction eight months into his tenure.

"Everything hasn't been perfect," he said. "Nothing will ever be perfect. We'll always try to find a way to do things better. But what our student/athletes have done over this short time we've been here has really been remarkable."

First, the team GPA is the highest it has been in four years, something Kiffin said "really shows our players are doing the right things."

A little nudge from the coaching staff probably helped boost the players' academic interest. Those who underachieve in the classroom must do early-morning running as penance.

"When we got here there were a lot of 4:30 wakeup calls for 5 a.m. runs because guys were one minute late to class or one minute late to a study hall," Kiffin noted.

Although the head man praised his assistants for their help in making this hard-nosed approach a success, Kiffin went on to note that "It takes the right kids for that to work. The kids that are still here are really showing that they want to do things right and have really made a great commitment to us."

Even more encouraging than the fact players are making headway with their academics is the fact they are NOT making headlines with their off-field actions.

"I kind of don't like to mention it but we're going into our eighth month with no arrests," Kiffin noted. "That's a really powerful statement about our players that are here. I don't think our players get enough credit for what they've done the eight months we've been here."

The head man acknowledged that his first-year staff remains in "a constant catch-up stage, and I still don't know when we'll eventually catch up." Still, he said the reports he's getting from players suggest that offseason workouts are "going great" and that the seniors are doing a lot to help the freshmen prepare for the start of preseason drills.


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