Feb. 14, 2013
On the surface, the VOLympics appears to be a fun competition for the 2013 Tennessee football team. But there is a deeper mission for head coach Butch Jones. He is looking to build leaders with a championship mentality.
"We are looking to see who our leaders are," said Jones. "If they can't lead a team of 10 individuals, they can't lead a team of 105."
The inaugural VOLympics kicked off Wednesday morning, as the football team was split into 10 squads, each led by two captains. The teams' captains, who were chosen by their peers -- not the coaches -- all dressed to the "T" in their finest threads.
"We are developing leaders as VOLympics is part of our peer intervention program," said Jones. "It encompasses three aspects: academics, being involved in the community and football."
The captains drafted their teams through a serpentine-style selection process, which had an NFL Draft-sort-of feel to it. The event was complete with the suits, pictures, handshakes, jerseys and hats.
It was emceed, fittingly enough; by former Vols' star turned radio talk-show host Terry Fair, who has returned to his beloved program as a quality control assistant.
The VOLympics will run the duration of the spring. They allow the teams to accumulate points--and lose them--in several different ways, including but not limited to, weight room exploits, scholastic endeavors and community service events. However, there's a slight catch: If a team member does something negative, such as being tardy or skipping class, only the team's captains are punished. This, ideally, results in the building of some serious leadership and accountability, with responsibility sprouting and flourishing within the team.
"We have a lot of work to do but I have been encouraged by our leadership to date. The VOLympics will spring off to that," said Jones.
For a complete rundown of the team rosters, click here.
"It's very humbling," Bowles said, about being the No. 1 overall pick. "It means a lot to know my teammates have that kind of respect for me. I'm going to do everything I can, like FCA events, community service, go to class on time and just make sure I have my priorities straight."
The most valuable VOLympians provide a trifecta of excellence. They do things the right way on and off the field, in the classroom and in the weight room. Early enrollee linebacker Corey Vereen joined Bowles as the only freshmen to be drafted in the top-10, as the third overall pick. It was high praise for the hard-nosed new member of the team that elicited what was referred to as `Corey's first smile on campus.'
The offensive line was the most well-represented position group in the first round, with three draftees--Mack Crowder (fourth), Kyler Kerbyson (fifth) and Alan Posey (ninth) and with each selection their coach Don Mahoney's smile grew bigger.
Team Vol Walk captain Moore, who selected Kerbyson as his first round draft pick, was very clear in what he and fellow captain Maurice Couch were looking for in his prospective teammates.
"We're looking for the guys on and off the field that are going to bring us points, not just athletically but throughout the community too," Moore said. "We want high character guys who are in the classroom getting good grades and getting to study hall."
After all the players were drafted, the teams were allowed to pick one assistant coach. With 10 teams and nine assistants, there was room for one `wild card' pick, which could be any person involved with the football program. Team Checkerboard had the initial coaching selection and strategically played the wild card on strength coach Dave Lawson.
The position of Coach Irrelevant, a play on the term `Mr. Irrelevant', coined by the NFL for the last player taken in its draft, was filled by Coach Jancek, who also earned the honor last season at Cincinnati.