Tennessee football fans received an inside look at the UT squad Monday night at the Wolf-Kaplan Center at Neyland Stadium, but basketball fans didn't go home disappointed, either.
UT defensive coordinator John Chavis and star forward Dane Bradshaw headlined a group of speakers at the Big Orange Football Warmup, an event designed to give Vols fans inside access to the athletic department.
The event, in its seventh year, also featured former Vol quarterback Dewey Warren, who led UT to a share of the national championship in 1967; legendary Tennessee offensive lineman Tim Irwin; John Painter, UT's Associate Director for Sports Information; and Scott Altizer, UT's Coordinator of Football Operations.
Chavis gave the fans his insight about the 2007 Tennessee team, while Bradshaw took another opportunity to thank UT basketball fans for their support. The recently-graduated Vol leaves for Holland Thursday to play for the Den Helder Seals. Several fans stayed after the event to speak with Bradshaw and have their copies of his book, "Vertical Leap," autographed.
Several fans said the BIg Orange Warmup fueled their eagerness for the start of football season.
"It gets you really hyped up for the season," said Ashley Haynor, who said she'd been a Vols fan since moving into the Knoxville area several years ago. "I'm excited to see some of the new players out there."
Vol fan Jeff Morris shared Haynor's anticipation. "I'm optimistic," Morris said, "but they are a young team, so I think everybody should give them a good chance to play their best."
The other speakers engaged the audience, as well. Dewey Warren recounted leading the Vols to the 1967 SEC Championship, a share of the national championship, and an Orange Bowl berth against Oklahoma. Painter answered questions about this year's football squad. Altizer, who oversees UT's football recruiting efforts, intrigued fans with information about the recruiting process.
The event represented another stage in Haynor's Big Orange indoctrination.
"How can you not be [excited]?" Haynor said. "The entire town is excited about what's going on, and you get sucked in and now you're wearing orange."
The Big Orange Warmup continues next week with another slew of prominent speakers on the docket, including former Voice of the Vols John Ward and UT Director of Bands Gary Sousa.