Feb. 27, 2014
KNOXVILLE, TN (WRCB) - It's been a busy off season for the Tennessee Volunteers, after landing 33 recruits and the fifth ranked signing class in the country. Yet, second year head coach Butch Jones still has time for even his smallest fans.
The biggest names in college football just don't have time to answer all their fan mail. But that's exactly what happened for 11-year-old Mason Leuty of Hixson.
"I just wanted to help my team out. I wanted them to go to a 12-0 season this year," Mason said.
A true Vol for life, Mason has been watching the Big Orange since birth. So, he decided to send Coach Jones a few plays to try.
"He's a good coach, and he's really nice so I thought yeah, he would write back to me," he continued.
But his reaction is on he couldn't have planned.
After posting a 5-7 season in his first year, Coach Jones is determined to rebuild UT football, brick by brick. But playbooks and game film aren't the only thing he finds important.
"I just want them all to know that I bleed with them when we lose. Obviously there isn't anyone who puts more stress on themselves than myself. I want to win for them. I want to give them a product they'll be extremely proud of," said Coach Jones.
On any given day, Coach Jones can receive dozens of letters from fans all across the county. But there was something about Mason's that stood out from the rest.
"The details. We always talk about the inches make the champion and the small details add up the big details, and the time that young man spent to diagram the plays and the meticulous attention to detail really caught my eye."
After receiving a signed picture from Coach Jones, Mason's father shared it on Twitter. Within hours, it was retweeted over 200 times. This week, Channel 3 arranged for Mason to meet his favorite coach.
By taking the time to interact with the Tennessee fan base, Coach Jones isn't just providing a keepsake to put on the wall, but giving lasting memories to his biggest fans.
"He could be a Hall of Famer someday. And I could be like, I got to meet Coach Jones, the Hall of Famer! It really meant a lot to me," said Mason.
Brick by brick, the momentum is building on Rocky Top. The Big Orange faithful has put their support behind Coach Jones, and he's letting him he appreciates it, one letter at a time.