Dooley excited and happy to be in Tennessee

Derek Dooley reached out to the Volunteer football players and fan base Friday night, telling them how excited he was to be in Knoxville. Having someone who wants to be the Tennessee head coach is something everyone needed after Lane Kiffin left after just one season. Go "Inside" to see what Dooley had to say about the future of football at Rocky Top.

Newly appointed head football coach Derek Dooley's first address to the Volunteer nation was the perfect medicine for a Tennessee fan base still dizzy from the swirling departure of former coach Lane Kiffin.

Coach Dooley addressed media, boosters and players in a quickly scheduled conference at the Peyton Manning Locker Room Complex in Neyland Stadium on Friday at 9 p.m.

Dooley offered a satisfying message delivered with trust, integrity and intelligence, a speech not unexpected from a former lawyer.

"I'm not going to sell this program and what we're about to do in a sound bite," Dooley said. "Everything we're going to do is going to be with a foundation of integrity in every aspect of the program."

With the fallout from Kiffin's disappearing act, career longevity was a question many attendees were eager to hear Dooley answer.

"Quite frankly, there's not one thing I can tell you right now that's going to convince every fan," Dooley said. "I can tell you this, moving isn't easy. When you have a family with three kids, every move gets harder and harder. My family's important to me, this is exactly the kind of town we want to live in; this is the program, how could you ask for anything more than the University of Tennessee? I love being where I am and I'm not looking to leave."

"I've never been more excited about the future for my family and for a program and for living than I am right now."

Dooley, unlike Kiffin, did not shy away from questions regarding his departure from his former program.

"When your heart is in something, it's a difficult thing to leave," Dooley said. "I wanted to stay through that thing because we left so many seeds of success and it's going to come for that program. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Louisiana Tech and the Ruston community."

One player whose attendance turned heads was rising sophomore running back Bryce Brown, one of the top national recruits of last year's class and the prized gem of Kiffin's lone recruiting class at Tennessee.

Brown's first analysis of Dooley undoubtedly included an investigation into trust, after the young tailback felt the shocking abandonment by the young coach who initially recruited him out of Wichita, Kansas.

"It's like coach told us, he told us it's not to trust in him, but trust you feel like you've earned," Brown said. "Over time that's when I'll be able to gain trust in him. That's what he told us to do, I'm just going to follow the footsteps and see what happens."

Brown and the other players met Dooley prior to the press conference, when Dooley, after having arrived in Knoxville only hours before, met with the team at the indoor practice facility.

"Everybody was all there listening to him," Brown said. "We were trying to get a feel of how he was, got to know a little about his background and where he's coming from and that's really all we touched base on. Everybody around here was impressed by his first impression."

Apparently for Brown, that impression carried right over to the press conference at Neyland Stadium.

"My plan was to just come in here, see what he was like," Brown said. "From it he seemed like a real nice guy, a players' coach; somebody that you can talk to, somebody who cares, obviously about his family and obviously about his players."

Brown was also asked about the possibility of transferring, a question which the rising sophomore tailback turned away from and rebounded to his first priority, schoolwork.

"Well I'm just focused on school," Brown said. "I really want to focus on my grades, I have a 3.5 GPA, and I'm not really focused on football right now."

Senior quarterback Nick Stephens seemed especially content with the revelation of his third head coach in three years.

"I think we were all excited, to get somebody who we knew was our coach and knew was ready to work for us and with us," Stephens said. "There was a sense of relief among all the players, the last couple days we were waiting."

The period between hires seemed to Stephens equal to the stresses experienced during the regular season.

"It was stressful, all the unknowns and what you think about all the time," Stephens said. "I think he's the guy that's supposed to be here. We always talk about everything happens for a reason and the reason he's here is to help us win."

With the first week of classes just behind them, the student athletes certainly admitted to doing a little private study on their coaching prospects.

"Chris Walker has a friend who plays for him," Stephens said. "We heard some good things through him. Obviously I looked him up online; saw what his track record was. I think that's kind of natural that a lot of our guys did that because we didn't know too much about him."


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