Oct. 19, 2013
By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The message after the game was clear. This win was a long time coming for the Tennessee seniors.
A group that had been through so much over the last four years got past the near misses and miscues of the past to see their work pay off in a big way on Saturday, breaking an 0-19 streak against ranked teams with a 23-21 win over South Carolina.
After the celebration, the seniors had difficulty putting the feeling into words, but the emotion in their voices told the story.
"It means everything," defensive lineman Daniel Hood said. "It's what we wanted to do this year as seniors the foundation that we wanted to set. For us, it was nice to get that one win, the one we'll always talk about."
For Marlon Walls, the feeling after the game was the payoff for the years of hard work and pressing on through the tough times.
"We watch College Gameday. When they say stuff about you or your team, I hurt for those guys," said Walls. "I told them before the Georgia game, that I was tired of people talking about us bad. I know how hard we work and how much time we put into this. The feeling is amazing."
Getting the win for the seniors was a similarly rewarding feeling for the rest of the squad, particularly for Tiny Richardson, who shares the Tennessee offensive line with four of those seniors.
"I was happy to get that win for the seniors," Richardson said. "Those guys have been here so long and haven't been able to get that big win They've been so close, but haven't been able to get it. So to be able to get that win for them in front of our home crowd was everything."
Though he allowed the seniors to bask in the feeling of the win, Jones said the work continues so the feeling becomes something that is expected every week.
"We believe," Jones said. "We believe in the way we train. Obviously being in the SEC, it doesn't get any easier. We all know what's up next week. I'm just really proud of our players and their leadership and the things that they've been through. They haven't waivered. They haven't flinched one bit."