Tuesday's practice meant pads for Derek Dooley's football team and the return of one Tennessee running back.
Toney Williams threw one the pads for the first time since suffering a season ending ACL tear last summer.
"It feels good to be back," said Williams. "Its hard doing certain stuff, but it feels great to just be out here and be part of my team again."
Williams began to regain confidence during bowl practice in Atlanta over the holiday break and thought he would be 100 percent by spring practice. Williams isn't quite to that point, but he is close.
"Today I feel better so I would say I am about 90 percent," said Williams.
And although William's knee might not be 100 percent he does feel good about his current weight, 215 pounds.
"I am happy where I am at right now," said the Georgia native. "I would like to get in better shape endurance wise and get my strength up, but at the weight I am right now I feel good."
Williams was eager to return to the practice field to get a true feel for where his knee was following his rehabilitation.
"I was really eager because I didn't know where I was at doing the other stuff," said Williams. "When you get tackled and you have to get up and feel the pressure on your knee its a different level, but it feels good today."
Although Williams might have been eager to return to the practice field that didn't mean he wasn't nervous about the first time he was going to get hit after the surgery.
"I was a little nervous because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what the hit was going to feel like, but once I got hit and got back up it was like, hey its football again," said Williams. "It feels good to know what I can take the hit and I have the confidence back so come back on Thursday and have a good practice."
Williams also knows that while he may be feeling better that his knee will no doubt be sore in the morning.
"I already know I am going to be sore when I wake up. I am going to be sore tonight. There's no question about it, but I got another practice on Thursday and all I can do is just get better."
While it is often said that the toughest part of overcoming an ACL injury is the mental aspect of the injury Williams got some first hand inspiration in the form of Montario Hardesty. Hardesty who also tore his ACL early in his UT career just finished a career season and is in prime form for the NFL draft.
"It gives me a lot of hope because you hear a lot of stuff about the ACL and how hard it is to come back," said Williams.
"When you see somebody personally that comes in day in day out and overcomes all the obstacles it makes you feel like you have a chance and its makes you want to come out here and work harder."
The second year running back hasn't set a whole lot of goals for his first healthy season accept one, get better.
"My goal this year is to get the team better and myself better," said Williams. "I don't have any goals about touchdowns, how many yards or any of that. I just want to get myself better every day and help my team."
Williams will be competing with both Tauren Poole and David Oku for the starting position come football time. He also appeared to be a factor for getting a share of the carries during last season's spring workouts before suffering his injury in summer 7 on 7 drills.