Oct. 17, 2006
MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- Tennessee senior placekicker James Wilhoit was named Tuesday a semifinalist for the 2006 Draddy Trophy and for the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Awards.
Tennessee has had six NFF scholar-athlete award winners and two winners of the Draddy Trophy, known as the "Academic Heisman." Peyton Manning won the award in 1997 and Michael Munoz was named in 2004.
TUESDAY MEDIA DAY COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH Phillip Fulmer
"I thought we used the open date to benefit our football team. We worked really hard from a fundamental standpoint and started our preparations for Alabama, and at the same time had a chance to get some guys a little bit on the more healthy side. We followed that (Monday) for a couple reasons, first of all because we hadn't played since the Georgia game, and also because of what we expect against Alabama we had a very tough, physical practice with some full-speed, one-on-one board work and that sort of thing to get back into playing full-speed.
"I'm looking for our team to be refreshed, energized and excited about looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that they have ahead, starting with this week's challenge versus Alabama. This team has done a good job of being responsive to what we've asked, kept their focus as we've gone along, continued to improve our discipline, and gelling as a football team. We've still got a lot of work to do in overcoming some of our deficiencies as a football team, but the young men are working hard to do that. It's been a fun group of guys, as I've said a number of times, and I've certainly enjoyed this group of seniors as they've taken the leadership role of the football team, and I think our team is working to follow their lead.
"Obviously there are some exciting players and groups of players on the team through the first half of the season. We're looking forward to their continued progress and some solid play out of other positions as we improve. I talked to the team really hard about where we are, what we have to do and understanding that the degree of success that they've had to this point is different than the degree of achievement that we're all looking for at the end of the season. Continued good attitude, work ethic, unselfishness, our discipline, our focus, and our continued responsiveness will be the keys to us continuing to improve as a team.
"As we look to this Alabama game, I think we are still in the process of growing as a football team and learning how to practice and go about our business of daily improvement. I'm expecting them to respond accordingly to that. We have not nearly reached our fundamental goals yet at some positions to be a good football team in all areas.
"We're playing a very fine Alabama football team. Defensively, they are a very aggressive team with their fronts, stunts and blitzes and tough man-to-man, and they make you execute as much as anybody we have played this year. So it's a real challenge for our offensive football team. Versus our defense, there is a real focus on stopping the run, which we've been somewhat inconsistent at doing at times. This needs to be our best effort of the year as we take on their offensive line and (running back Kenneth) Darby. We've got a real challenge ahead of us there.
"Their quarterback (John Parker Wilson) does a really good job of running their offense and getting the ball to their big-play wide receivers (Keith Brown and D.J. Hall). It's kind of a double challenge there, trying to manage Darby and then Hall and Brown. They're really special football players.
"As in all Alabama football games, I expect this to be one of the toughest games of the year and a hard-fought football game. We've got to use our assets that we have as a football team and limit our liabilities as we go through this game. It's often discussed about the Alabama rivalry, and to me growing up where I grew up 10 miles from the Alabama border and coming to Tennessee and playing in so many of those great games and knowing about the history -- which I certainly always share with our football team about the great players and the great games over a long period of time back to the 1920s -- I have great respect for this rivalry and look forward to this game every year and I think our team is preparing to play this fine Alabama team as well."