Vols’ 2018 National Signing Day: Pruitt signs multiple defenders

Tennessee has finished up its 2018 National Signing Day recruiting cycle and the Vols landed themselves the No. 20 overall ranked recruiting class according to 247sports.com.

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his assistants are proud of where they went with this class, regardless of where they are ranked.

“We’re excited about the 20 young men we’ve added to this class,” Pruitt said. “These guys are going to lay the foundation for the next four to five years.”

The Vols finished the official signing day with six total signees, and five of the six came on defense.

3-Star Trevon Flowers, freshman, safety, 6-1, 185 lbs.

From: Tucker HS, Georgia.

A former baseball player who only played one year of high school football, Flowers chose to come to school and forego playing major league baseball.

“He played shortstop on his high school team and he’d possibly be getting drafted but wants to go to school,” Pruitt said. “He wants to play football and he’s going to be really good at it,”

Flowers is a versatile defensive player and will most likely be used as Pruitt’s prototypical “Minkah Fitzpatrick” type of player, otherwise known as the “star” position in Pruitt’s 3-4 style defense.

Pruitt sees Flowers playing a large role in the defense down the road.

“The good thing is he’s only done it for a year so he doesn’t have any bad habits. He could come play corner for us, he could play star, he could play safety. When we get him here we’ll see what he’s best suited for.”

He is expected to play everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and Pruitt doesn’t see him having a problem with that.

“(Flowers is) a very unique individual, has a very good skill set as a defensive back and could probably play all six positions back there,”Pruitt said. “I think this guy’s going to be a very good player for us one day.”

3-Star Kurott Garland, freshman, defensive lineman, 6-3, 250 lbs. 

From: Heritage HS, Georgia.

Garland was a player the staff was looking at in between preparing for the playoffs and getting settled in at Tennessee.

“(Garland) was a young man that we found kind of over the break … looking through all the all-state teams just trying to find guys that possibly were under the radar,” Pruitt said. “He fits a need as far as a guy that can play defensive tackle for us … he’s going to be a really good football player.”

Garland, an undersized defensive tackle in Pruitt’s defense, would have to bulk up in order to receive significant playing time this upcoming season. Pruitt’s prototypical defensive tackle is roughly 285 pounds and takes up a lot of space in the middle of the defense.

4-Star Emmit Gooden, junior, defensive lineman, 6-4, 305 lbs.

From: Haywood HS/ Independence C.C. – JUCO.

Gooden is a transfer from junior college that has been trying to get to the university for a couple years now. After a stint at Independence Community College, Gooden is close to returning to his dream school.

“He’s going to finish up in May,” Pruitt said. “He has a little bit of work to do, but he’s a big man … really good motor, and another guys that fits for us inside with what we’re trying to do defensively.”

Gooden chose to return to Tennessee over Mississippi State, West Virginia and Arkansas. He also had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

3-Star John Mincey, freshman, defensive lineman, 6-4, 255 lbs. 

From: Clinch County HS, Georgia.

Mincey is a player that the staff has had their eyes on for a couple of years, and Pruitt is glad he decided to choose the Vols over South Carolina.

“Probably all of our guys on staff have had him in camp at some point in time,” Pruitt said. “He’s very athletic, plays basketball, and that’s another guy on the defensive front.”

Although he fits the frame of an ideal 3-4 defensive tackle, Pruitt believes he needs to put on some weight and fill out to compete for playing time this upcoming season – as Mincey sits at 255 pounds.

Mincey chose the Vols over South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn and Florida.

4-Star, JJ Peterson, freshman, linebacker, 6-2, 230 lbs. 

Colquitt County HS, Georgia.

Peterson is the crown and jewel of the class, plain and simple. Peterson was thought late to be considering flipping his commitment from Pruitt and the Vols to Alabama, but made himself a household name by sticking with his commitment on a patchy signing day for the big orange.

Peterson received high praise from his new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, and rightfully so. Peterson is the No. 48 overall player in the class, and one that Nick Saban pushed hard for, which left the Tide short of a coveted outside linebacker.

“We would have liked to have two inside linebackers but we got one,” Saban said in his press conference after the Tide wrapped up their 2018 recruiting cycle.

Pruitt is very optimistic about Peterson and his on-field ability.

“(JJ Peterson) has a very unique skill set at linebacker and can actually play all four positions, inside or outside,” Pruitt said. “He’s a guy that can play man-to-man on third down, he can rush the quarterback, but he’s a guy that can make plays in space also.”

Pruitt held on tight to his highest rated target, and wants the fan base to know it won’t be that way next spring.

“Give this staff a full year,” Pruitt said. “When you look at the rankings next year on National Signing Day, we’re gonna be right at the top.”

Edited by Seth Raborn

7 Touchdown dishes for your Super Bowl party

New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Super Bowl 52 featuring the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles will be played in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota Sunday. You may not attend the game, but you might need some snacks.
Whether you’re hosting a party or going to someone else’s party, here are seven dishes that will score big on game day.

The Seven-Layer Dip

1 ½ cups sour cream
1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix
1 can (4.5 oz) Old El Paso™ chopped green chiles
1 can (16 oz) Old El Paso™ refried beans
1 package (8 oz) refrigerated guacamole
1 ½ cups finely shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
1 cup pico de gallo
1 can (2.25 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
¼ cup sliced green onions
Tortilla chips, as desired

First, spread refried beans out along the bottom of a bowl or casserole dish. Then, mix together the sour cream, taco seasoning mix and green chiles in a separate bowl. Once mixed, spread over the beans.
For the next layer, put guacamole over the beans and sour cream mix. Top with cheese, pico de gallo, olives and green onions.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Refrigerate before and after serving. Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury.com.

By Sunil.verma84 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup pepper sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box chicken-flavored crackers

First, combine the chicken and pepper sauce together and heat until warm. Then, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing and half of the shredded cheese with the chicken in a crockpot (if you have one) and cook on low for 40 minutes or until bubbly.
May be served with the chicken-flavored crackers, crackers of your choice or different vegetables. Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com


PiccoloNamek at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
8 oz pkg Reese’s peanut butter cup Minis (or about 1 1/2 cup chopped Reese’s cups)

Over medium heat, melt the butter and mix in the brown sugar and peanut butter. Mix until the sugar dissolves and immediately remove from heat to cool.
Then, in another bowl, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar for around 4 minutes or until creamy.
Once the brown sugar and peanut butter mixture cools, mix into the cream cheese on a low setting.
Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips and peanut butter cups. Your dip is then ready to be enjoyed with pretzels, animal crackers, vanilla wafers or whatever else you would like.
Put in the refrigerator before and after serving.  Recipe courtesy of shugarysweets.com

Walking taco ingredients/ Photo by Jodimichelle:Flikr Creative Commons

Walking Tacos

1 Tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 small jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
1 lb. ground beef
2 1/2 Tablespoons homemade taco seasoning or 1 packet of taco seasoning
1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
1 14 ounce can kidney beans
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
4 Frito bags-make sure they are all corn if you’re gluten free
Shredded lettuce
Shredded Mexican Cheese blend
Sour Cream

Over medium heat, melt butter and saute chopped onions until softened. Then add jalapeños and saute for 2-3 minutes.
After the onions and jalapeños are cooked, add the ground beef to the pan and brown. Drain excess fat and mix in taco seasoning.
Then, combine tomato sauce, kidney beans and drained diced tomatoes to the pan. Cook and stir until heated through.
Finally, add mixture to Frito chip bag and top with cheese, sour cream or whatever else you like. Recipe courtesy of neighborfoodblog.com

Pigskins in a Blanket

By Photo credit: stef yau [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
48 cocktail-size smoked link sausages or hot dogs
Yellow Mustard

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and open each package. Separate the dough. After separating, cut each piece into three triangles.
Starting from the point of the dough, roll one sausage and dough until reaching the end. Place them seam down on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 11-14 minutes or until golden brown. Change the position of the cookie sheet halfway through baking.
Remove from oven and transfer to serving tray and let cook for 2 minutes.
Once cooled, use the mustard to create football laces on top of the crescent dogs. Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury.

Oven Baked Chicken Wings

By RM Bulseco from Davao City, Philippines. (Singapore Night Life.) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3 lb. chicken wings, split at the joint, wing tips removed and discarded
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels and toss in oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and baking powder.
Grease rimmed sheet pans with olive oil and spread chicken in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, then broil until golden brown – 7 to 10 minutes. Recipe courtesy of Delish.com

Sloppy-Joe Sliders

1 lb. of ground beef
½ chopped onion
1 package of King’s Hawaiian rolls
1 ½ cup of Ketchup
1 Tbsp of Mustard
½ cup of BBQ sauce
Garlic powder
Seasoned salt

In a medium pan, add the chopped onion and ground beef. You’ll want to season the ground beef with garlic powder and seasoned salt. Cook over medium heat until the meat is completely cooked. Drain the excess fat.
Then, pour the ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce into the meat and onions. Mix until everything is combined evenly.
After mixing, slice the Hawaiian rolls horizontally so that there are bottoms and tops. Put the bottom section of rolls in a casserole dish and then layer the meat on top. Place the top section of the rolls on the meat and gently press the layers together.
You can serve them as is, or you can heat them up in a oven set at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

No matter where you are, enjoy the Super Bowl with some easy and delicious treats!

Featured Image obtained from creativecommons.org 

Edited by Lexie Little

Peyton Manning returns to Knoxville to discuss leadership, retirement

Photos and videos of Manning were not permitted by audience members. Professional photographs will be added to the story once approved and released. 

On Friday, Sept. 22, Peyton Manning shared his journey from childhood to retirement and his thoughts on leadership with nearly 1,000 students and distinguished guests in Cox Auditorium at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Manning was a guest of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy as part of their Distinguished Lecture Series. Matthew Murray, Director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, moderated the event.

This is the second NFL season since Manning retired, and Manning shared that he missed being a part of the team the most. He emphasized that between meals, training and plane rides to and from games, the team does everything together.

Before attending UTK, Manning said he had little connection to Tennessee. Manning said he visited during an ice storm, meaning he did not receive a good tour of the stadium. However, he did meet “good people,” including students and professors that made him realize he would enjoy being at UTK even if football did not work out for him.

After graduating in three years, Manning decided to stay at UTK and finish his senior year.

“Without a doubt, it was the best decision to stay at UT my senior year,” Manning said.

According to Manning, this gave him the opportunity to slow down and enjoy his time there.

Students began lining up for the Peyton Manning lecture over one hour before the doors opened. Credit: Kaitlin Flippo
Students began lining up for the Peyton Manning lecture over one hour before the doors opened. Credit: Kaitlin Flippo

“Don’t be in a hurry to get out of here…slow down, walk to class, enjoy friendships,” Manning said. “That senior year, I got to do those things.”

After talking about his time at UTK and his professional career, Manning shed light on his definition of leadership being the “ability to influence.”

“If you can’t influence the team, you can’t lead the team,” Manning said.

He emphasized the importance of being a good leader, a good communicator and asking questions. He said asking questions does not show weakness like many people think; instead, it opens windows.

Manning said it is easy to be a leader when the team is winning; but, when it is not good, it shows who the team really is. He stressed that when his team lost, no one called a press conference to shift the blame on other teammates. Instead, the team worked out their problems.

One aspect of leadership Manning highlighted the most was preparation.

“…you have to earn the respect of the people you’re leading,” Manning said.

When leaving the football field, Manning said he always thought there was more work that needed to be done, but never felt that he could have prepared more.

“I was never out there just winging it,” Manning said regarding play changes. He said every ‘audible’ call had been reviewed with the team beforehand. He said communication is important because everyone needs to be on the same page.

“You can’t talk to anyone the same way,” he said. He said direct two-way communication is the only way to communicate; there cannot be a middle man.

Manning told students entering the workforce that those employers are “drafting you” on potential and are “making an investment in you,” so it is important to earn that respect and be accountable.

Manning said preparation can be challenging because routines can seem mundane, but it helps having a passion. He said if you are miserable with your routine, it is time to make a change and find something new.

Aside from his coaches, his dad was one of his best mentors. Manning said he was fortunate to have parents who encouraged him and were “unbelievably supportive.”

Justin Kingrea, a senior at UTK majoring in supply chain management, said he was glad to see Manning talk about leadership.

“…I think [leadership is] something that applies to everybody. I thought, ‘What better person to hear it from than the G.O.A.T himself,’” Kingrea said. “…I think it’s one thing to see him but to get to hear him and what he has to say on [leadership] is really beneficial to really anyone.”

For more information on upcoming events with the Baker Center, visit their website.

Featured Image by Jeffrey Beall, courtesy of Creative Commons

Edited by Taylor Owens

Indiana State vs. No. 25 Tennessee preview

This Saturday, Indiana State (0-1) will travel to Neyland Stadium to take on No. 25 Tennessee (1-0). When the Sycamores and Vols square off, the two teams will be meeting for the first time in both programs history.

The Sycamores come into their game against Tennessee, looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to Eastern Illinois last week. New Sycamores head coach Curt Mallory had a debut last Thursday in which he would love to forget about. Eastern Illinois threw a go ahead touchdown pass with just three seconds left on the clock. Indiana State’s rushing kept them in the game as they had 160 total yards on the ground, with 154 yards coming from running back Lemonte Booker. When it came to throwing the football though, it was a different story. Both of the quarterbacks that played for the Sycamores combined for just 133 yards for one touchdown and an interception. The game was fairly even between the two teams, but the two turnovers and a missed field goal were the breaks that Eastern Illinois needed to seal the game.

Booker ran for a go-ahead touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game, but Eastern Illinois went on an impressive 69-yard drive to win the game. On defense the Sycamores were stout against he run and held their opponent to just 76 yards. However, they gave up 202 yards and a touchdown through the air which led to the 22-20 loss. The Vols will be facing a shaky and injured Vols offense on Saturday, but the Tennessee running game will likely be what gives them fits.

Tennessee managed to squeak out a double-overtime win on Monday in Atlanta over Georgia Tech. However, some fans were left with more questions than answers about Butch Jones and the Vols. Starting quarterback Quentin Dormady had a less than stellar game even though his stats looked solid. Dormady threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns, but still looked fully unsettled in the pocket for most of the game. More problems arose on the offense after No. 1 receiver Jauan Jennings was ruled out indefinitely with a wrist injury against the Yellow Jackets. Still, receiver Marquez Callaway proved that he was the go-to man on Monday with 115 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

One group that doesn’t have any concerns is the Tennessee running back room. John Kelly proved to be one of the most explosive backs in the SEC after his 128 yard and two touchdown performance. Kelly will receive more help up front with offensive tackle Drew Richmond returning this week after he was suspended for the opener.

On the defensive side, it couldn’t have gone much worse for the Volunteers against Georgia Tech. They were shredded for over 600 yards of total offense, 535 of those yards being on the ground. Linebacker Daniel Bituli had a career high 23 tackles against the Yellow Jackets that paired with a combined 31 total tackles from fellow linebackers Colton Jumper and Cortez McDowell. The defensive line was the most concerning aspect of the defense, as only Darrell Taylor seemed to get off his blocks and have a consistent impact throughout the game. Not much was seen from the defensive backs against the famous Georgia Tech triple-option, but it was clear that starting cornerback Justin Martin had his fair share of struggles. Saturday’s matchup with the Sycamores will be Tennessee’s chance to straighten out its blemishes that were exposed on Monday night.

Indiana State’s keys to success:

It is unlikely that the Sycamores will be able to halt the unstoppable train that is John Kelly on Saturday, but if they manage to do so, they can stay within striking distance. Forcing Quentin Dormady to throw the football as much as possible is the only chance that Indiana State has of staying in the game. On offense, they will have to win the line of scrimmage and test the Vols cornerbacks through the air to in order to be successful.

Tennessee’s keys to success:

Finding a rhythm on offense is paramount for Tennessee in this game, and for the rest of the season. Dormady will have to live without Jennings at receiver, and use Callaway, as week as the other various talents to his advantage. Catching the football has to become a priority, as there is no excuse to have as many dropped passes as Tennessee had on Monday. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will need to restore his defense’s confidence after the beating they took at the hands of Georgia Tech. Finding rhythm on both sides of the ball is the key for a Vols win.

Prediction:

Dormady will finally smooth things out after a rough first start and a week of working closely with his injury-ridden wide receiving corps. Having Richmond back along the offensive line will bring more consistency to the run game, where Kelly and the rest of the running backs will dominate. On defense, the Vols will restore some of their confidence in their defensive line and secondary going into week three against Florida. Tennessee will cruise to a 45-10 victory over Indiana State in Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Five takeaways from Butch Jones’ weekly press conference

Butch Jones took the podium this afternoon in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio for a Wednesday edition of his weekly press conference. This week features Jones’ recap of the double-overtime thriller in Atlanta and which players will need to step up against Indiana State. These are the five biggest takeaways from what Jones and his players had to say.

Guarantano is just “one snap away”

Jones consistently relayed the message that while Dormady was the starter in Monday’s win over the Yellow Jackets, Guarantano is one play away from his opportunity. “Sometimes you’re antsy to play, but we always tell him he’s one snap away,” said Jones. He stated that Dormady and Guarantano would “continue to compete” as the season goes on. In the win over Georgia Tech, Guarantano didn’t see the field.

Playmakers arise in thrilling double-overtime win

Jones shed light on the impressive play of true freshman offensive linemen Trey Smith, as well as senior center Jashon Robertson. These guys were the glue of the offensive line on Monday night.

Linebacker Daniel Bituli received high praise from Jones following his 23 tackles performance against Georgia Tech. “It was a big spark to get Bituli in,” stated Jones who also praised Bituli’s ability to play the MIKE and SAM position at linebacker.

Receiver Marquez Callaway was the talk of the press conference, but none of his fellow teammates or Jones were surprised about his dominant performance on Monday night.

Quarterback Quentin Dormady noted that Callaway is, “one of the hardest working players on the team.”

Jones also added that walk-on defensive lineman Paul Bain’s game-saving block against the Yellow Jackets was extremely rewarding and spoke on the amount of respect he has for Bain. The walk-on works two jobs – at Champs and on a farm where he grinds horse feed – in order to pay for school.

Fellow defensive lineman Darrell Taylor was also applauded by Jones for his 12 tackle performance and the way he was a leader along the defensive line.

Injury updates

Jones started off the press conference by saying that suspended offensive tackle Drew Richmond would be available for practice and for Saturday’s game against Indiana State. Defensive tackles Shy Tuttle and Kendal Vickers are both listed as questionable, as well as receiver Josh Smith. Jones didn’t give a timetable of return for receiver Jauan Jennings after the wrist injury he suffered against Georgia Tech. Jennings is expected to be out for up to 12 weeks due to a dislocated elbow.

Who’s stepping up in place of Jennings

Both Jones and Dormady called on freshman receiver Josh Palmer to step up in the absence of Jennings. The Vols seemed to have found their number one guy after Callaway’s performance, but the battle for the rest of the depth chart is still alive. Jones said that the 6-foot-6-inch senior Jeff George would get a chance to put himself in the mix and make the best of his opportunity.

Dormady remains confident in the offense

Dormady blamed his early game struggles against the Yellow Jackets on a difference in game rhythm. “It wasn’t nerves,” said Dormady, “but after halftime we settled down.” He called on Josh Palmer as a player that can possibly step up along with Callaway at wide receiver. “You saw some of what Callaway can do, now Josh Palmer can step up and show what he can do,” Dormady said. It is clear that Dormady is antsy to get back on the practice field and get things fixed after a shaky start to the 2017 season.

Week five SEC upset alert — No. 16 Ole Miss

Week four in the SEC was certainly a wild one, to say the least! The Tennessee Volunteers came back against arch-rival Florida in what felt like an upset, even though the higher ranked team came away victorious. UMass had Mississippi State against the ropes all game only to eventually lose control of the game. Surprisingly, neither of those games resulted in firings. However, Auburn beating LSU in the closing seconds proved to be the last straw for head coach Les Miles. Miles, who won a national title with LSU in 2007, was fired in response to the loss. While colleges and fan bases are becoming increasingly more impatient, what game we should keep an eye on in week five?

There shouldn’t be many upsets this week in the SEC. As far as an upset alert goes, it’s fairly obvious who should be on high alert this week: the Ole Miss Rebels.

Sure, the Rebels looked great last weekend, and to be honest, they’ve shown they can move the ball down the field at will this season. Then why are they 2-2, you might ask? They lost to two quality opponents in Alabama and Florida State. The Rebels had a good lead on both teams, but somehow managed to let both back in the game. Last week, they closed out a rising Georgia team in stunning fashion, 45-14.

On the other hand, Memphis is a team that has been deceptively challenging to beat the last couple of years. Last year, in Memphis, the tigers beat the rebels 37-24 behind the play calling of Justin Fuente and the arm of now-Denver Broncos’ quarterback Paxton Lynch.

The Tigers are a new team this year with new coach Mike Norvell. Norvell was the former offensive coordinator at Arizona State before taking the head coaching job at Memphis this season. Now, the 3-0 Tigers are averaging around 52 points a game. Succeeding Lynch at quarterback is a man by the name of Riley Ferguson. Ferguson might sound familiar to SEC fans because he was a Vol until losing the starting job to Josh Dobbs and announcing his transfer in May of 2014.

As jaw-dropping as both of these offenses can be, this game will probably come down to who has the better defense. Ole Miss should win. Most people would be shocked if they lost. The game is in Oxford and the Rebels shouldn’t lose in back-to-back years to an AAC opponent in Memphis.

With that being said, it isn’t impossible for the Rebs to get up early, take it easy, and allow the Tigers to roar back. The key to the game for Ole Miss will be playing an entire sixty minutes.

No. 14 Ole Miss will take on Memphis on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. ET in Oxford, Mississippi, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Tate Nations