April 19, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - As evidenced by the reaction on Twitter Wednesday to Pat Summitt being named head coach emeritus of the Lady Vol basketball team, her impact on sports was felt by many.
As the Tennessee football team winded down its final spring practice at Neyland Stadium on Thursday morning, head coach Derek Dooley shared his thoughts on the all-time wins leader in NCAA basketball history.
"The word bittersweet I am sure is across all of athletics because she transcends," Dooley said. "She is not just women's basketball. She is an icon for any sport. I think celebrating the success she had is there. I called her yesterday and told her how happy I was that she was still with us and that she didn't step down completely.
"She is just an amazing person and her impact will last forever. Not just on the people that she coached but all the people in athletics as a whole."
STEAK OR HOT DOGSSaturday's DISH Orange and White Game will feature a different twist in the rosters this year, as Tennessee officially concludes spring practice.
Usually, the Vols hold a team draft for the game during the final week of spring practice. This year, however, one squad will feature the first team offense and second team defense, while the opposite will sport the second team offense and first team defense.
"(It's) to try to manage a little continuity on the offense and the defense," Dooley said. "It is not perfect because there are some guys that kind have been rolling with the ones but won't be able to work with the ones, so that is a little drawback. It is a `good-on-good' scrimmage. We try to not have a lot of mismatches. It will be a good opportunity for us to get another days work."
The building intensity could be felt as the squads were split up for the final segment of practice, and walked off the field with plenty to say.
After all, there's plenty on the line.
"It is a high stakes game," Dooley said. "We do fine china, steaks, all the trimmings, baked potato, and dessert. And they have nice people serving them. The other crowd in the same room has paper plates, hot dogs, potato chips and water with no ice. So that is what we are playing for. And pride."
Sophomore offensive lineman Antonio Richardson is ready for steak.
"It's going to be very competitive out there," Richardson said. "That is what it's all about at the end of the day, competing, and that's what we are excited about."
Senior linebacker Herman Lathers, who will line up on the opposite side of Richardson, is excited as well.
"As a defense, we're looking to go put a stamp on what we've accomplished this spring," Lathers said. "We're looking forward to it."
Ultimately, it will provide another opportunity to get on the field for Tennessee.
"It is another day," Dooley said. "It is another work day. I have been really pleased with our spring. I will kind of sum it up after the spring game because this is another work day for us."
HUNTER OUT SATURDAYJunior wide receiver Justin Hunter will not participate in the DISH Orange and White Game on Saturday, but it's impossible to ignore that his spring was positive as a whole.
"He is very valuable," wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw said after Wednesday's practice. "He is a big long kid that can eat up grass very fast with his stride. It then forces the defensive backs to get on their heels and then he can cut and turn just like a little guy.
"He does really well at that and he has just gotten better as spring has gone along with his knee and he has continued to strengthen it. He has a long way to go this summer to continue to get back to where he was."
Hunter didn't know what to expect this spring, but is looking forward to what's to come.
"In a month I want to be feeling more confident than I was in the spring time," Hunter said. "I just want some of the pain to go away. By the summertime in camp, I should be ready to go"
The Virginia Beach, Va., native hauled in three receptions for 70 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown, in Tennessee's second spring scrimmage last Saturday.
While Hunter says his knee is around 80 percent, he expects to be at full strength by the time Tennessee hits the football field again.
He expects 100 percent out of the Vols' offense as well.
"We could be really good," Hunter said. "I know we have a lot of receivers coming. In the summertime we are going to be very deep so we are going to get a lot of rest and have more people coming on just to help us out."
DISH O&W GAME SET FOR APRIL 21The DISH Orange & White Game will take place on Saturday, April 21 with a 2:30 p.m., kickoff. Admission and parking will be free for all fans. In addition to free admission to the game, Fan Appreciation Day will feature an autograph signing with head coach Derek Dooley, assistant coaches and Vol players. The signing, held in recent years at Haslam Field, will be held on the field at Neyland Stadium from 12:15-1:15 p.m.