July 19, 2012
BY BRIAN RICE
HOOVER, Ala. -- Heading into his third season at Tennessee, Tyler Bray is being looked to as the leader of what is expected to be a high-powered Volunteer offense.
To help prepare for the role this season, he received advice from several former Vol quarterbacks, and spent a week with perhaps the best-known former UT leader: Peyton Manning.
Bray was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, where he and Manning were able to bond over pre-season preparation.
"He (Manning) told me the game is won before you ever step onto the field," Bray said Thursday between sessions at the 2012 SEC Football Media Days. "If you know what they're doing, you can exploit their problems."
Bray said having one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game connected to Tennessee has been an invaluable resource.
"He's been through Tennessee and has obviously done extremely well in the pros," Bray said.
The on-field tips he picked up up from Manning at the Academy also proved invaluable.
"If you watch Peyton, he's very fundamental," he said. "He's going to throw the same way every time. I just try to be like that, just try to make every throw the same. It's not always going to be the same, but if you do a five-step set up and throw, try to make it look the same every time. Repetition."
Head coach Derek Dooley said he has observed a marked change in his quarterback, both on and off the field looking ahead to fall camp.
"His investment in being good off the field," Dooley said when asked about the biggest steps taken by Bray in the offseason. "You have to live as the quarterback at Tennessee. If your lifestyle is not reflecting that, then it's going to be hard to go out and perform to your best. I've seen a real change in his maturity level."
With a healthy and more mature Bray leading the Volunteers, Dooley is ready for the program to take a step forward in his third season as head coach.
"You're not going to have UT to kick around anymore," he said.
"We haven't had the seasons Tennessee's had in the past," Bray said. "We're going to try to change that. We have great leadership this year and a good offense and a good defense."