Bartholomew continues family’s UT tradition



In Tennessee’s more than 100 seasons of college football, two Bartholomews have wore orange. During both of their careers, the Vols won national championships.

How about that for pressure?

"I told Ben he’s got a lot to uphold," former UT fullback Will Bartholomew said on the News Sentinel Sports Page radio show after his younger brother, Ben, committed to UT. "My grandfather won a national championship (in 1938) and was a captain. I won a national championship (in 1998) and was a captain. I said ‘Ben, you’ve got to go up there and win a national championship.’ "

Ben Bartholomew didn’t worry about the expectations. Once the 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior from Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville was offered a scholarship for the recruiting class of 2008, his mind was made up.

"I was surprised they offered me," Ben Bartholomew said. "I didn’t really have a doubt that I was going somewhere else. I knew where I was going."

Will Bartholomew played for UT from 1998-2001. Sam Bartholomew was a blocking back at UT from 1937-39.

"It’s a family tradition, obviously," Ben Bartholomew said. "The Bartholomews go to UT. I grew up with Will playing there. I’ve always watched him and always been a Vol fan."

Ben Bartholomew, who could play linebacker, tight end or fullback in college, had 19 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and six sacks as a junior this season. He was being recruited by Ole Miss and Vanderbilt before committing to UT.

The decision is a welcome one for his family.

"I think they would have been happy wherever I committed but I think everyone, including me, knew that I was going there and they (family) wanted me to go there," Ben said.

Said Will Bartholomew: "Tennessee is his number one school. He wanted to be up there wearing the orange, playing in front of 100,000. He got that opportunity early in his career. I’m pumped for him."

There are similarities between the brothers. Both have a reputation for playing hard and physical. There are differences, even if Will Bartholomew has trouble admitting them.

"I hate to say he’s more athletic than I am, but he definitely has a little more talent and skill," Will said. "His biggest strength is that he’ll throw his head in there. He’ll run full speed and knock guys on their back and he doesn’t really hesitate at all."

The aggressive mentality seems to be a common trait in the family.

"It might be lack of brain cells," Will Bartholomew joked. "I’m not sure. It’s something in the blood that makes us like hitting people for some reason."

Ben Bartholomew took a hard look at Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Vanderbilt before UT beat them all to the punch.

"Visiting other colleges helped me realize what a good choice it was go there," Ben Bartholomew said of UT.

The Vols have five commitments for the 2008 class, an astonishing feat by any school’s standards, and it seems the momentum is continuing to build. Ben Bartholomew’s teammate, 6-5 315-pound offensive lineman Preston Bailey, could prove to be one of the top prospects in Tennessee next year. Bartholomew’s commitment can only help the Vols.

Ben Bartholomew said Bailey, who had no interest in UT six months ago, now has UT among his top two choices with Notre Dame.

Getting Bailey would be a good surprise for the Vols. As for Ben Bartholomew, his gift is already open.

"It’s real exciting," he said. "I’ve been calling it my best Christmas present."

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