KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) - Former Hargrave Military Academy student Darius Myers is one of 11 Tennessee scholarship student-athletes dressing for Thursday’s junior varsity contest against the Virginia prep school. Kickoff at Neyland Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
A redshirt freshman offensive guard from Cordova, Myers spent the 2005-06 academic year at the Chatham, Va., locale before making his way to Knoxville. He joins four other current Vols who went the Hargrave route to college football.
Seniors Jonathan Hefney and Antonio Reynolds, junior Demonté Bolden and freshman Brent Vinson all have been key contributors to the 2007 Vols. And Hargrave’s program under head coach Robert Prunty has made a difference throughout college football preparing individuals for an advanced level of study and athletics.
“It’s a maturing process,” Fulmer said of the benefits of that one-year stopover. “One, it’s just Mother Nature; it’s another year. And they are not always there by choice. Oftentimes in their freshman and sophomore years of high schools, they either didn’t realize the importance (of academics) or it hadn’t been expressed to them and then it’s too late to recover in their junior and seniors years. So it’s a year for them to improve academically.
“Probably more importantly, they are there around a lot of other really good players in an environment that is very disciplined. They are up marching at 6 o’clock before breakfast. They have a very structured schedule, with curfew in the evening, and there is not a whole lot to do in Chatham, Va.”
Regarding Thursday’s game, NCAA rules prohibit playing in more than 12 regular-season games, so student-athletes who have not played in all of UT’s early-season games could see action Thursday night. Redshirt candidates for the 2007 season are not allowed to play and maintain their redshirt status.
Thus, the only scholarship members joining Myers on Tennessee’s JV roster are junior Sinclair Cannon, sophomore Jonathan Crompton, redshirt-freshmen Nick Stephens, Victor Thomas, Ramone Johnson, Jarrod Shaw and Chase Nelson, and true freshmen Dennis Rogan, Savion Frazier and Ben Martin.
Stephens, Thomas and Shaw have yet to see action this season, while Myers has played in one game, Frazier, Martin and Nelson two and Crompton, Rogan and Johnson have appeared in three apiece.
“It’s a chance to look at some young guys who haven’t played very much,” Fulmer said. “Certainly it’s important from a recruiting standpoint, that we have those guys on campus. It give us a chance to see play first-hand some of those (from Hargrave) we’ve talked to and know about.”
Thursday’s game marks the first UT junior varsity game in 15 years, although Tennessee JV and freshman competition dates to 1922. That season, the Vols began a 21-year run of at least two freshman contests per autumn. After World War II, junior varsity play started in 1946 and skipped only the 1954 season in a run of competitions through 1987.
But not since a 26-13 victory over UT-Chattanooga during the 1992 season has a Tennessee junior varsity squad taken the field in organized competition.
Admission to the game and parking are free, with space available in the G-10 garage located between the stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena. Fans should enter the stadium through Gate 21.