Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer pulled an inspirational figure from the Vols recent past straight to the forefront Thursday by naming Inquoris ???Inky??? Johnson one of six team captains for Saturday???s game against South Carolina.Johnson, who suffered a career-ending arm injury early in the 2006 football season, remains a source of extreme pride throughout the Volunteer Nation because of the dignity and outlook on life he has shown since his mishap. He also has continued to offer instruction and inspiration to this year???s Vols, and UT???s coaching staff thought a captain???s honor was the perfect recognition for a true teammate. ???Inky has stayed very much a part of this football team,??? Fulmer said. ???He???s at every meeting, every workout, every practice. He is a great role model and a great example for what our young people should be like as students and athletes. He is a young man with tremendous pride in himself. ???I think he exemplifies all the great things about college football, and it just hit me that this would be a great way to honor him. It???s a tremendous statement for him with a nationally televised game at home, and it also shows how this program has stood behind him the whole way.??? Joining Johnson on the field for the pregame coin toss are Erik Ainge, Xavier Mitchell and Chris Brown, along with South Carolina natives Jonathan Hefney and Eric Young. The Vols worked for 90 minutes Thursday at Haslam Field, the team???s final tuneup for Saturday???s SEC contest against the Gamecocks. ???Practice this week has been fine,??? Fulmer said. ???We???ve been a good practicing team. We just need to play smart football and not have the penalties, turnovers and some of those things that have bitten us in the behind.??? Fulmer announced at the close of Thursday???s practice that the school is filing the necessary paperwork to try and get a sixth year of eligibility for injured defensive back Antonio Gaines, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sept. 8 against Southern Mississippi. Fulmer also said discussions are taking place regarding a similar request to the NCAA about tight end Brad Cottam, who has been sidelined with a wrist injury he suffered Aug. 21. THURSDAY Q&A WITH TAILBACK ARIAN FOSTER Thursdays of every game week, UTsports.com sits down with a member of the Vols team or coaching staff to preview a key element of the upcoming game. This week, sports information graduate assistant Tony Williams speaks with junior tailback Arian Foster about his recent success in the running game and the team???s current outlook. What has been the key to your success in the last three games? ???I think we have been very effective at not only executing the run, but calling the run as well. That???s pretty much it. The offensive line is having a great year in every part of the game, and there has been some trust from the coaches in calling the run.??? What does the offense have to do to rebound after its first scoreless half this season? ???We???ve been taking care of that on the practice field. We have to be more productive on third and short. That???s a really big thing for us. If we can get better production on third down, I really think it is very hard to stop this offense.??? What are the coaches saying about South Carolina???s defense? ???They are a very physical, very good tackling team. They???re very multiple in their looks. They throw a lot of odd looks at you and bring different kinds of pressure. As far as the pass rush, the guys they bring are a lot heavier than we???ve seen, but they can move. We???re going to have to be on our game to give Erik time back there.??? Tennessee has played much better at home this season than on the road. Why do you think that???s the case? ???I think that is a coincidence more than anything. After the first series, the crowd is not a factor anymore. Some games they are, but I don???t hear them after the first series. The first one is always loud, but after that it seems to die down. It will pick up in a close game at the end, but I???ve played in the SEC for three years now and it???s the same pretty much everywhere.??? What is the attitude of this team after a tough loss last week? ???We have to come back with focus. We don???t have a choice. That???s where success comes from, being focused. We???re at the point right now where we have to focus on improving in every area of the game, and that???s what we???ve been trying to do out here this week and that???s what we want to do on Saturday.??? AT&T OPENS VOTING FOR BEST SEC COACH OF ALL TIME
Finalists also announced for best defensive back ATLANTA ?? The Southeastern Conference has produced some of the most ingenious coaches in the history of college football, and now fans can voice their opinions on the best of all time. It???s all a part of AT&T Inc.???s ???Best of 75 Years of SEC Football,??? an 11-week program that allows fans to vote for their favorite players, coaches and traditions from the past 75 years. Fans can enter to vote on the ???Best of 75 Years of SEC Football??? after accessing SEC Mobile on their AT&T handsets by texting SEC to 234567. They will then receive a menu of options to choose from, which includes alerts, trivia, SEC video, news, downloads and sweepstakes. Voting began Sept. 4 and runs through Nov. 16 with results announced weekly. Choosing the best of all time will be no easy task ??? just check out the list of nominees below: Paul ???Bear??? Bryant, Alabama; Frank Broyles, Arkansas; Shug Jordan, Auburn; Steve Spurrier, Florida; Vince Dooley, Georgia; Jerry Claiborne, Kentucky; Charles McClendon, LSU; John Vaught, Mississippi; Jackie Sherrill, Mississippi State; Jim Carlen, South Carolina; Gen. Robert Neyland, Tennessee; and Ray Morrison, Vanderbilt. Last week???s voting decided the finalists for the best SEC defensive back of all time, and the top three vote-getters were Antonio Langham from Alabama, Terry Hoage from Georgia and Carlos Rogers from Auburn. The three finalists beat out nominees from the other nine SEC schools to move into the finals, which will be voted on during the last two weeks of the program in November. Every text message vote cast is an entry into a sweepstakes to win a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game. AT&T customers can also prove their SEC football IQ by playing trivia on their handsets, or they can get breaking news on their favorite teams by signing up for alerts, which include game previews. Fans will also be able to show their school pride all season by downloading school graphics, fight song ringtones, wallpaper, games and cool tools, and subscribers with 3G service can access college football video. This is AT&T???s second year as the official telecommunications sponsor of the SEC and a presenting sponsor of SECSports.com.