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#VolReport: Legacy Freshmen Open Up

July 18, 2014

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Here are sound bites from the legacy freshman

LINEBACKER DILLON BATES

"It's been great coming in early in May and having time to adjust to things, getting in class, and start workouts. We are working every day to get better. We are doing everything we can to win this season."

"There is not any added pressure. It is more about everyone knowing what they have to do. Everyone knows that you have to go every day and go as hard as we can. We have to stay later in meetings and stay later in the classroom."

DEFENSIVE BACK ELLIOTT BERRY

"He just talked about how much he loved the fans here. It's one of those things that when you explain why you like a place it's kind of hard to talk about. It's one of those things that you just know. You can't really put words to it."

""I feel like I bring great versatility to the game. I feel I can do things that not too many people can do. I just feel like I give Coach Jancek the flexibility to do different things."

DEFENSIVE BACK EVAN BERRY

"Playing a sport with a twin is always good because at all times you know someone will have your back. It's a great feeling to be able to share your accomplishments with someone and always having someone close to you."

""Curt Maggitt has done a really good job of showing me around and making me feel at home as much as possible. With the new coaching staff and especially Coach Jones, he actually requires the upperclassmen to take care of the underclassmen to make sure everything is going alright."."

LINEBACKER NEIKO CREAMER

"I've been here since January. I came in early. This college experience has been going well so far. As far as I'm concerned, it's different than high school of course. School, football, it's all going well. Time management is a major thing that you have to apply yourself to, but other than that college is going well."

"The transition was smooth, especially after the first week of getting used to being on the other side of the ball. My body can withstand any position so I know the coaches know what they're doing. I'm used to playing receiver but the linebacker transition was smooth, especially with my position coach, Coach Thigpen. He's a very good coach."

DEFENSIVE BACK TODD KELLY JR.

"Just to get better each and every day. I have learned so much since I have been here, the older guys have done such a great job taking in the freshmen and making sure that we know everything we are supposed to know and doing everything we are supposed to do. Just taking it day by day and learning the process."

"They just told me to be excited, give it everything I have and have an open mind because so much is going to be thrown at me. But I have learned and taken that in. The older guys, like I said before, have been doing a great job of doing the same."

WIDE RECEIVER VIC WHARTON

It's great. I mean, we couldn't have asked for a better class. Our entire class gets along great, I mean, there's no flaws in the class. I just can't believe that we're all finally here you know with this class that we dreamed of having. Me and Coach Jones, communicating with him, being the first commit and we're finally here.

"It's been great you know, classes. We had the first summer session and we have one class this session on top of that with the workouts. And me playing receiver with Coach Azzanni , you know, I've had some guys come and take me under their wing such as Josh Smith and Marques North and those guys. The adjustment has been easy just because those guys have been making it easy."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's six legacy freshmen spoke with the media for the first time as Vols on Friday afternoon as Dillon Bates, Elliott Berry, Evan Berry, Neiko Creamer, Todd Kelly, Jr. and Vic Wharton talked about wearing the Orange & White.

STAYING CLOSE TO HOME

Despite all six freshmen having fathers or an uncle, in Vic Wharton's case, only one grew up in Knoxville. Todd Kelly, Jr., takes a lot of pride in being a homegrown talent and having the chance to play college football in his backyard.

"I am the only local guy in the class," said Kelly, who starred at The Webb School. "It is pretty cool, just going around, going to different restaurants and hearing my name and things of that nature. I went to school about 30 minutes away so I wasn't far, I got to come to all the home games last year."

One of the benefits of playing close to home, is that his parents are just a few moments away, something that is special to Kelly.

"It was a pretty cool," he said. "Ultimately my dad is right up the street so whenever I need to talk to him or need support he is always going to be there for me."

PLAYING IN HONOR

In honor of former Volunteer defensive back Inky Johnson, legacy freshman Evan Berry will wear the No. 29 jersey. Berry, also a defensive back, believes he will best embody the true meaning of representing No. 29.

On Sept. 9, 2006, Johnson suffered a career-ending injury in Neyland Stadium. Despite his inability to physically play football, Johnson continues to motivate both former and current Vols through inspirational messages.

"I think everyday people would love to be in my shoes right now, to be playing at the University of Tennessee," Berry said.

With high expectations of himself as a true freshman, Berry's enthusiasm to honor Johnson has impressed many around him.

"Just to show my respect for him, I didn't want anyone wearing that number and not really know the meaning behind that number, so I decided to take that number and wear it and represent it," Berry explained.

Alongside his brother, Elliott Berry will also honor a former Vol.

Elliott will wear the No. 41, the inverse of No. 14, to represent his older brother and All-Pro Kansas City safety Eric Berry. Eric played for Tennessee for 2007-2009, garnering All-American honors.

STRENGTH & SPEED ON THE RISE

Five of the six legacy freshmen joined the Vols during Summer School. A key component of their regiments since arriving in Knoxville has been strength and conditioning under the supervision of Dave Lawson. The Vols' staff continues to push the Vols to new limits in the weight room and with agility and quickness. The Vols are hoping to see the results with Team 118

"I have added about 10 or 15 pounds just being here for a few months," said linebacker Dillon Bates, who said he now weighs 232 pounds. "That is all credit to the strength coaches and hard work. It really is a great program they have us in. Coach Lawson is doing a great job. We will be working hard in the weight room then running on the field. We are also getting recovery right and the nutrition bar. We definitely have a formula for success."

Todd Kelly, Jr., has seen changes in his body which he hopes allows him to contribute right away.

"I know they play a lot of freshmen on special teams, but ultimately where ever they put me I am just going to go out there and give it all my all," said Kelly. "Right now I am weigh 203 pounds, they put that on me pretty quick and I have been able to keep my speed up as well. So I have enjoyed it but wherever they put me that is where I am going to play.

Vic Wharton has been surprised with the immediate impact the strength staff has made on his physique.

"I wasn't expecting it to be so challenging but I'm happy that it is," he said. "I don't think there's a better strength coach in the country other than Coach Lawson. I just feel that my gains have been tremendous and I never expected to be as strong as I am now."

From Little League to Power T

Representing the Volunteer state among the six legacy freshmen, Tennessee natives Todd Kelly and Vic Wharton are not unfamiliar with sharing the same field. While growing up in the Greater Knoxville and Nashville areas, Kelly and Wharton played on the same Little League football team and had just as much chemistry and bond then as they're anticipated to have for the Vols.

"We called ourselves the `Dynamic Duo' back in the day," said Kelly. "Our team went down to Atlanta to play. We didn't end up getting to play the Berry brothers but they were in the same tournament."

Despite moving on to attended different high schools, Kelly and Wharton's competitive roots began at an early age together. Now within reach of their lifelong dreams at UT, the two freshmen have quickly resumed their friendly competitions while continuing to push each other.

"I always say that I am better and he always says he is better," added Wharton.


 

 

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