Photo by Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee Football head coach Josh Heupel met up with the voice of the Tennessee Titans, Mike Keith, this week at the Senior Bowl. Heupel shared his thoughts on Tennessee’s three players representing UT at the Senior Bowl in Byron Young, Darnell Wright and Hendon Hooker.
“They’re our players forever,” Heupel said of trio. “It’s an awesome experience to see your guys take the next step and have an opportunity to start their process of achieving their goals and dreams. Today, getting a chance to see B.Y., Darnell and Hendon out here, to see the joy in their eyes and the way they competed, it was a lot of fun.”
While all three Vols are in Mobile, not all will play in the Senior Bowl, as Hendon Hooker is still recovering from his ACL tear. Still, Hooker being able to go down to Mobile and talk to NFL teams is significant for his draft stock. In fact, Hooker was the only non-participatory player invited to the Senior Bowl, per Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy.
“Got a chance to talk with Jim, and I’m appreciative of him doing that with Hendon,” Heupel said on Nagy. “Hendon is a major part of the resurgence of Tennessee Football. Who he is, his competitive nature, everybody sees that. But the leader that he is inside of the building, how he pours into his teammates, that is what Tennessee Football is. For someone to do those things here, nobody better.”
Keith also asked Heupel what he wants Byron Young to show scouts over the weekend.
“His athleticism, strength, playing power, and his ability to retain information,” Heupel answered. “He’s a young guy in his football career. I hope that as the week goes on, they see him grow as a football player, because his best football is still a long way in front of him.”
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One of Tennessee’s most improved players in the 2022 season was offensive lineman Darnell Wright. Between having a Tennessee-leading 82.1 PFF season score among offensive linemen to shutting down first-round prospect Will Anderson, Wright impressed every single Saturday in his senior season.
Wright has been an early standout in Mobile this week, and Heupel shed light on how Wright’s growth over the past two seasons.
“Our offensive line coach Glenn Elarbee has done a great job with him over the last two years of refining his fundamentals and his technique,” Heupel said. “Where he’s really grown is his football IQ. Excited for Darnell to be able to sit down with ownership, with GMs and coaches, and be able to showcase some of his knowledge.”
Lastly, Heupel shared his thoughts on the great opportunity the Senior Bowl presents all NFL hopefuls.
“It’s a special opportunity. It’s a goal and a dream they’ve seen on TV their entire childhood. They get an opportunity to come out in front of NFL personnel and put their best foot forward. It’s the first step of the draft process for a lot of these guys and a great opportunity.”
The full three-minute long 1-on-1 between Heupel and Keith can be watched below.
The Senior Bowl is Saturday, February 4, at 2:30 p.m. ET in Mobile, Alabama. The NFL Network will broadcast the game.