Nov. 5, 2011
BY JOSH PATE
When Derrick Brodus's phone rang Saturday evening, he was sitting in his Knoxville apartment watching football. It was the Tennessee coaching staff. They needed him at the stadium.
Brodus, Tennessee's walk-on placekicker, didn't dress for Saturday's game against MTSU, but he was rushed to Neyland Stadium just in time to nail three extra points, a 21-yard field goal and handle kickoff duties in the Vols' 24-0 victory over the Blue Raiders.
"Honestly, I didn't know what was going on. I thought it was a dream. I was lying on my couch just relaxing and answered my phone and was told I needed to come to the stadium as soon as possible," said Brodus, a freshman who starred at nearby Alcoa High School and is now on Tennessee's practice squad.
Starting kicker Mike Palardy injured his leg Thursday in practice and was sidelined for the game. Backup Chip Rhome was set to handle kicking duties, but he pulled a muscle in his leg during pregame warm-ups.
"He went out there like all kickers do in pregame, and they all came back in a panic," Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said of Rhome. "So I said let's get an APB out for Brodus, and it's a good thing he wasn't having too much fun."
The coaches called Brodus at 6:10 p.m. and told him to get ready. A police escort came to Brodus's apartment to take him to Neyland Stadium. The surprise was all a blur for Brodus. He called his parents and told them to watch. Next thing he knew, he was at the stadium getting dressed.
"As soon as I got in the locker room, I had someone stretch me while I put my uniform on," Brodus said. "As soon as I got dressed, I went outside and had a couple of kicks and kickoffs."
Brodus typically helps the first and second team kickers in practice. He puts up the same number of practice kicks each day, but his primary role is to support their work.
All that paid off on Saturday. Dooley presented his freshman with the game ball for coming through on short notice.
"I still can't believe this is happening," Brodus said, smiling ear to ear. "I haven't really soaked in what is happening."