If Tennessee falters this football season, it won't be for lack of motivation.
Not only have the Vols been energized by first-year coach Lane Kiffin and his staff. Their past failure is more cause for motivation.
"These guys want to win so bad," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "They're just so hungry."
He happened to be referring to his defensive backs. But he might as well have been describing the entire team, especially the seniors, who experienced losing seasons in 2005 and 2008.
"We're not hungry," fifth-year senior guard Vladimir Richard said. "We're starving. It's beyond hungry."
Richard didn't expect to be playing for redemption his senior season.
"When we came in 2005, we expected to do big things," he said. "Then my freshman year, we go 5-6."
He said a lack of team chemistry factored into that team's failure as well as the 5-7 record of a year ago.
"In '05, there were a lot of things going wrong," he said. "Last year, it was a pretty close team to some point. We could have been closer.
"It was way closer than the '05 team. In '05, I felt we were not close at all."
Richard said off-the-field issues were an issue with the 2008 team. A number of UT players were arrested between the end of the 2007 season and the start of spring practice in 2008.
"It wasn't just all talent," he said. "It was attitude. It was off-the-field stuff. It was all those things that came together and made us go 5-7.
"So as a unit (offensive line), we're staying out of trouble. As a team, we're staying out of trouble."
No UT players have been arrested since Kiffin was named head coach at the end of last season.
Freshman Recruiter: UT freshman wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson of Pahokee, Fla., has a Tebow connection. But it's not that Tebow.
"I call our quarterback back home, 'Tebow,' " Richardson said. "He's big, just like (Florida quarterback Tim Tebow)."
Richardson said he is trying to convince the Pahokee quarterback, Emanuel Hendricks, on coming to UT. Hendricks is a junior this season.
He's not just recruiting Hendricks. He's recruiting all the other college prospects on Pahokee's talented team.
"Every night, I send them texts," he said.
His main message: "If you want to play and compete as a freshman, this is the place to be."
Athletic Family: UT freshman defensive back Janzen Jackson comes from an athletic family. But most of those athletes were basketball players.
"Everybody on my momma's side of the family is a basketball player," Jackson said. "She was a great basketball player."
Jackson said his mother, Tesra Jackson, was an all-state high school player in Welsh, La.
"I've seen her shoot a couple of times," he said. "I was surprised. It's not like she was out there shooting like a girl."
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.