Special to the Journal
MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. - The Tennessee football team showed some attitude and toughness as it wrapped up its morning practice on the final day of training camp at Milligan College on Wednesday.
That effort during the morning session and throughout the entire week clearly pleased Derek Dooley as he cancelled the team’s evening practice to reward them.
“When Smokey’s been hunting the way you want him to hunt, you throw that dog a bone,” Dooley said.
The Tennessee head coach hinted at his satisfaction after Wednesday’s morning session.
“They are hurting but they are pushing through,” Dooley said. “Their attitude has been great, it has just been hard. They are tired and beat on, but they are going to be recovering soon enough. That’s how you feel in the fourth quarter. You have to learn how to finish the drill.”
After six full days together without computers or internet and limited cell phone service, things started to get a little edgy on the practice field for the Vols before an impending thunderstorm cut things short by about five minutes.
“It’s been good for team camaraderie but at some point you start getting on each other’s nerves,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “The offense is going against the same guy all the time so it’s getting a little edgy and that’s good, but they are handling it the right way.”
Overall, the trip to Milligan College has been a resounding success with coaches and players alike talking about how much it has helped the team prepare for the upcoming season..
“It’s been great,” Dooley said. “It helped our team and I think it helped our staff. I hope it pays off this fall.”
For local players Brendan Downs and Mack Crowder, both products of Tennessee High School in nearby Bristol, Tenn., it was good to come back home.
“It has been fun,” Downs said. “I have seen some people I know from around here and it has been cool being in this area and seeing the mountains. It is so pretty up here and I miss it. It has been a really good experience for me. We are still really secluded from everything here. I have never even been to Milligan before so this is a new experience for me.”
That seclusion allowed the Vols an opportunity to grow as a unit off-the-field as well, thanks to a number of team-building activities including a karaoke night and a talent show. They are ready to get back to a more familiar setting though.
“The team has had a great time,” Crowder said. “We have had some team-bonding experiences where some of the freshman did a little talent show and stuff. We all have had a great time so far and have gotten a whole lot closer and lot better as a football team. The team had a great time, but I think we’re getting ready to go back to Knoxville and start getting ready for this season.”