April 20, 2013
By: Nick Carner
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The life of a student-athlete is full of activity. The balancing act that must occur with class, workouts, study hall, practices and games is enough to make one wish for more than 24 hours in a day. And that's just playing one sport.
Now imagine playing two.
"It's hectic," sophomore sprinter/hurdler and wide receiver Michael Williams said. "Real hectic."
Williams, along with fellow sprinter and running back Reggie Juin, took to opposite sides of the field at Neyland Stadium this past Saturday for the annual DISH Orange & White Game.
The duo is following a long line of young men to run track and play football for the Vols. The tradition is rich, complete with world-class athletes like Olympian Willie Gault and Richmond Flowers, as well as others like Jabari Greer, Justin Hunter and Jonathan Wade.
Those young men didn't just participate in both sports; they excelled. That tradition of excellence is something that both Juin and Williams feel privileged to be a part of.
"To follow in the footsteps of guys like Jonathan Wade, Justin Hunter, Leonard Scott and Jabari Greer is an honor," Juin said. "All of those guys performed to the best of their abilities on the football field and on the track. If you look at their numbers on the field and on the track, it's really amazing what they did. I really am honored to follow those guys down the same path."
"It's an honor to follow in the footsteps of guys like that," Williams added. "Playing two sports is a weight on your shoulders. You expect a lot out of yourself in both sports because of the competitive edge you have to maintain. I'm just proud to give my all for Tennessee like those guys did."
The demand that participating in both sports places on Juin and Williams is significant. Williams said he wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and goes nonstop all day long. Practice, treatment, class, treatment, practice, class. Study, eat, bed.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Day in and day out.
"It's very tough but at the same time I love both sports," Juin said. "I enjoy doing football practice in the morning and then going out in the afternoon and doing track, too. I just love representing the Orange no matter what sport it is."
Juin said he's able to juggle all of his responsibilities with discipline and finely tuned time management skills.
"It is tough but at the same time, you have to get up early in the morning and you have to go to sleep early at night," said Juin. "You have to be disciplined, and even cut off some off your friends and family members. It's really all about time management."
For Williams, the key is taking care of his body. Proper rest and nutrition allow him to compete in both sports and still be able to balance his class load and social life. He's even gotten some help from a guy who's run the gamut before.
"You really just have to give 110 percent effort to both sports," Williams said. "It's very important to take the proper measures like taking care of your body and getting the proper amount of rest and nutrition. I've gotten advice from a lot of people like Jabari Greer, who's an alumnus who ran track and played football. He gave me some really good tips that helped me out a lot."
Head football coach Butch Jones and men's sprints coach Rohsaan Griffin admire the duo's ability to take part in both sports. Jones and Griffin both said that more than anything else, it takes a high level of maturity to balance the responsibilities that come with being a dual-sport student-athlete in college.
"It takes a huge commitment because they have a lot of things to balance," said Griffin. "They have to balance study hall, they have to balance their classes, they have to balance both practices, team meetings and things of that nature. It's hard to do both and stay on top in both sports."
"I think the first thing is a maturity level. It starts in the classroom," Jones added. "You have to be able to manage your time and you have to know that academics are first and foremost. It's also a mentality. I've been very, very pleased with both of those individuals. We have a tremendous record at the University of Tennessee of having individuals perform well in both sports simultaneously."