Tennessee freshman LB Arion Carter (No. 7) during fall camp in Knoxville. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.
Tennessee wrapped up their third straight practice of fall camp on Friday morning in Knoxville.
And while the team is working hard to get better on the field, which we’ve had plenty of observations of, there have been several Tennessee players to speak with the media after the first three practices.
While some might expect Tennessee to lead fall camp off with veteran players that talk well and say the right things, the Vols and head coach Josh Heupel threw much of the freshman class into the fire this week.
Out of the 16 player interviews that have been done since the start of practice on Wednesday, 12 have been with true freshmen including the first 11 press conferences of the fall camp slate. That also does not include freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava who spoke during Tennessee’s Media Day before camp began on Wednesday.
While the press conferences aren’t usually a daunting task, especially in the fall and with kids who have been used to publicity during their recruitments, Tennessee’s move to get a lot of their freshman class acclimated with the media scene was a wise move. It’s unlikely the media will talk to many of them for a second time during the fall camp, so having the early experience right off the bat will come in handy if the time presents itself at some point during the season.
The first week of fall camp can sometimes be a slap to the face, as freshman defensive lineman Nathan Robinson joked about on Thursday. For the players that didn’t get a chance to practice with the team during spring ball, and even for the ones that did, the first go-around at fall camp is highly intense with a lot of information and movement happening all over the practice complex. It’s a time for the players to be sponges and soak up new experiences on – and off – the field.
Tennessee’s move also gives the Volunteers’ fanbase a chance to get to know the freshman class before seeing them on TV or reading about them (on www.rockytopinsider.com) online.
The 12 players that spoke to the media over the span of Wednesday to Friday averaged a time of five and a half minutes answering questions from the media. And with all of the press conferences uploaded to YouTube in their entirety, the fanbase gets to see and hear exactly what the media does when the red light turns on.
Aside from the usual football conversation the players spoke about, there were also out-of-the-box moments such as Fr. TE Emmanuel Okoye’s move from Nigeria to the United Kingdom to the United States or Knoxville native Trevor Duncan’s relationship with his brother and teammate Cody Duncan.
Tennessee TE Ethan Davis and QB Nico Iamaleava have a connection and a friendship that could be massive for the Vols down the road. @rockytopinsider
“I already knew that we were going to make plays together and have that connection” pic.twitter.com/dOUGTREzNp
— Ric Butler (@Ric_Butler) August 3, 2023
More from RTI: Tennessee Misses the Top 10 in CBS Sports’ Preseason Rankings
While it won’t be anything that is being written about three months from now, and really won’t even be anything talked about starting next week, there’s no doubt that it was a wise move from Tennessee and Josh Heupel to get their freshmen experience in front of the media and show their personalities to the fanbase at the very start of fall camp.
Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider throughout the month of August for more continued coverage from Tennessee’s fall camp practices.
Here’s a look at the freshman players that spoke with the media during the first three days of camp. All interviews can be found by clicking the player’s name below:
–QB Nico Iamaleava (Media Day)
–DL Chandavian Bradley
–DL Daevin Hobbs
–RB Khalifa Keith
–DL Trevor Duncan
–OL Ayden Bussell
–DL Tyree Weathersby
–LB Jeremiah Telander
–TE Ethan Davis
–DL Nathan Robinson
–LB Jalen Smith
–TE Emmanuel Okoye
–LB Arion Carter