Tennessee maintained its focus on the next big scrimmage during a brief Friday morning workout surrounded by loads of off-field hoopla. The Vols practiced for just less than 90 minutes at Haslam Field in preparation for a second consecutive Saturday of game action at Neyland Stadium.
Bob Corker and former Vol footballers Bill Johnson and Tommy Bronson were in attendance, the latter pair in conjunction with Friday's dedication of the Neyland-Thompson locker room in their honor.
Corker, a first-term U.S. Senator and former mayor of Chattanooga, spent his spring of 1972 at UT as a reserve outfielder for the Vols and offered head coach Phillip Fulmer's squad a few kind words.
"Senator Corker gave the team a very nice talk about what is really important in life and how to enjoy this time but also how to prepare for the future and be able to enjoy that future," Fulmer said. Corker appeared in 13 games for the 19-14 Vols under head coach Bill Wright, finishing the season with a .500 batting average (4-for-8) with six runs scored and three batted in.
Former Vols punter David Leaverton (1998-2000) attended practice as part of Corker's staff.
UT also recognized Bronson and Johnson and all their family members in attendance for continued support of the Vols by naming the football complex locker room in honor of the two lettermen. As members of the 1955-57 teams, Bronson and Johnson helped lead Tennessee to a 24-7-1 record, a 3-0 mark versus Alabama, two bowl appearances, an SEC championship and a No. 2 ranking in 1956.
"Both of them have been extremely generous to the university with their time, efforts, counsel and also financially," Fulmer said. "I think i's great to honor them. Basically, their lives have been dedicated to the University of Tennessee."
Regarding practice, Fulmer said Saturday's scrimmage should show a great deal of improvement from last weekend's effort.
"I'm looking forward to seeing our team play," he said. "We challenged them about being totally committed to the opportunities they have to make the most of their time in school. It's a great time in their life. They can't let one moment or one opportunity bypass them without working to be better."
Senior linebacker Ryan Karl (back injury) has returned to the practice field this week, although his work remains limited. Karl's status for participation Saturday won't be determined until near kickoff.
"That's one of those injuries you are not going to play with," Fulmer said. "When they say he's ready for full contact, we'll have full contact. It's been good to have him back out there. He's really solidified making our calls and getting us lined up. He brings an experience level that is very positive."
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information