KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- An impressive 40,000 members of the Vol Nation came out for an open practice to show their support and love for Team 118.
More than anything, the coaches and players appreciated the opportunity to have a game like atmosphere to practice to with just over two weeks until the first game.
"Thank you to the fans for coming out and creating a game atmosphere," head coach Butch Jones said. "We needed that for our development. Feeding off the crowd's energy is what our football team needed."
As seniors, linebacker A.J. Johnson and running back Marlin Lane know the feeling of a great crowd.
"There was a lot of energy," said Johnson. "It felt real good. It felt like a game environment. We came running out and there were people everywhere."
"It's a great experience for the freshmen. When they get to the game it's going to be ten times better, but they still get the great feeling of being in a game environment."
Lane realizes that not many programs have the chance to practice in front of such a large crowd.
"There's nothing like practicing in front of a live crowd. Everybody wishes to practice like this with 50,000 people there. Seeing the energy of the crowd keeps us motivated and going."
With the band playing and good ole Rocky Top in the back, the energy of the crowd served as a gift for the team.
"It definitely gets us ready for the game and reminds us of a game like environment," said Brian Randolph. "It was a good rejuvenation. Our legs are dead. Some of us just need an extra spark, and I think that did the trick."
Freshman linebacker Dillon Bates felt the intensity of a crowd that he grew up being a fan of and shared the experience with his fellow newcomers.
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