'I'm Here For Them': Lott starts role to prepare Vols for life after UT

UT defensive tackle Montori Hughes surprises Tyson Bivins during a pick-up touch football game by picking him up and carrying him back away from the play.  Football players visited the Wesley Center Summer Program Monday, Jul. 19, 2010.

Photo by Michael Patrick

UT defensive tackle Montori Hughes surprises Tyson Bivins during a pick-up touch football game by picking him up and carrying him back away from the play. Football players visited the Wesley Center Summer Program Monday, Jul. 19, 2010.

Kids, athletes benefit from an afternoon at Wesley

Andre Lott plays touch football with students at the Wesley Center on Monday. Lott, who is Tennessee's coordinator of the Vol for Life program for character development, visited the Wesley Center's summer program with selected sophomores.

Tennessee defensive tackle Montori Hughes lifts 10-year-old Tyson Bivins to help him get a better basketball shot on Monday.

Andre Lott got a glimpse of an outgoing personality he didn't know existed.

He heard the story of another player overcoming poverty to earn a scholarship at Tennessee.

The coordinator of the new Vol for Life program for character development also saw a class of sophomores bond instantly with a group of inner-city kids, following up speeches about the value of education with an afternoon full of games together on a humid Monday afternoon.

The Vols might not be able to change the culture or preception of their program overnight, and Lott certainly won't be able to get to know the entire roster he'll be working with in that timeframe either. But in his first community service event since coming back to UT this month - and the first of several scheduled this week - Lott was able to make significant progress with the latter as the Vols opened up at the Wesley House Community Center.

He also saw that the former might not be as bad as advertised.

"It's going to take some time," Lott said before heading to the playgound himself. "I'm currently in the process of sitting down with each player on a personal level to let them know what I've done. I want them to tell me about them, what their expectations are of me. More than anything, I'm here for them.

"It's been great so far. I think the best thing we really have going right now is me getting to know the players before we really start implementing anything in the fall, and that's been going great. It's easy for me to get to know these guys when they're coming down and speaking to the kids - you really get to see their real personality. With (linebacker) Robert (Nelson), I would never have thought he had the personality that he has, it's awesome. It's going to be great, and we're really looking forward to this."

The day of service certainly started building some excitement for the Vol for Life program, though in some ways it's just the tip of the iceberg in the long-term plan for the brainchild of new coach Derek Dooley.

Community service is just one part of a multi-faceted approach to preparing the Vols for life after UT, along with life skills, career development, spirituality and character education - all of which Lott will be responsible for organizing and overseeing for Dooley.

The former Louisiana Tech coach had a bare-bones version of the program at his last stop, but it will be expanded considerably thanks to UT's resources and the hiring of Lott. Neither the program nor the community service events this week were scheduled as a response to the latest embarrassing arrests at Bar Knoxville, but in their wake the potential value of Vol for Life in helping shape the players has only become more clear.

"It's essentially surrounding our players with all the resources that are going to empower them to reach their capacity in three areas - school, football and personal growth," Dooley said. "They're all very distinct fields. But those three things are, to me, what college is all about.

"Most people focus on making you a great player and making sure you graduate, but the third component is the most important to me. If you get out of school and can't do the basics, that's a problem. No matter who you are, you've got to turn pro as a man."

Like repairing UT's image or Lott getting to know the roster, that process will take some time as well. But UT is committed to a comprehensive program, breaking the team up by class for different lessons throughout their career and keeping them together for bonding events like the one for the sophomores on Monday.

For now, that's merely a starting point for the Vols and Lott. But class will soon be in session, and the man in charge is getting a jump on roll call already.

"This isn't really overwhelming for me because I've been doing it for the last three years," Lott said. "I know what to expect, and Coach Dooley knows what he expects of me, so that's why it's been an easy transition for me. It was a little overwhelming with actually seeing 100 players or 90 players, but I think that was the only thing that was a little overwhelming.

"But you know, I really will take this and evaluate them. You know, like how you dress, how you speak out, things like that. There's something they can learn from in every situation."

In the process, the players are helping Lott learn a thing or two about them as well.

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Comments » 36

dvols writes:

congrats to Lott, what a cool job ! any other schools have this.. character coach is awesome..all other coaches are over rated..run, hit , catch, throw...duh,...life skills rock!

BigBadVol writes:

Nice article. Thanks.

Bigger_Al writes:

The photo clearly shows Hughes attacking the 10-year old. I expect a KPD investigation and for the KNS to run stories on this for the next two weeks.

PHAT_VOL writes:

What A Breath Of Fresh Air.
Wonderful idea Coach Dooley.

GO VOLS !

MiddleoftheRoad writes:

Freakin awesome. Really. This is going to be good. I am proud and impressed at what Dooley and Lott are doing. All things being equal, if I was a parent of a top recruit, I'd want my son to be at a school with this program. Wonderful.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

The photo clearly shows Hughes attacking the 10-year old. I expect a KPD investigation and for the KNS to run stories on this for the next two weeks.

It does kinda look like he's about to pull a Mike Tyson on the kids ear, don't it.
LMAO!

Huttdawg100 writes:

Does anyone know if any other schools have character coaches? If so, has it helped with discipline issues?

RoadTrip writes:

Thanks, Coach. We back your efforts 100%.

sambad writes:

It will be great if he can give some of these guys some great advice and can teach them what it takes to be a total success. I also hope he can convince them that nothing good happens in a bar after midnight.

GerryOP writes:

Refreshing...

47 -- Fear The Dooley Dude...

VolinCalif writes:

Sam
I am often tempted to say nothing good ever comes out of a bar. I would be wrong.
In Dec 16 1773 a group of around 200 men drank almost all day. They attended a meeting that morning at The Old South Meeting Lodge (A Pub I believe) That night they stormed the British Ships in Boston Harbor and dumped their cargo into the Sea (Tea)The Boston Tea Party Dec 16 1773. Right or wrong sometime people have to have a catalyst to help them do what is right and needing done. Just saying.
PS David Crockett and his men were stoned before they left Tenn for Texas

UTByrd writes:

If he's that aggressive with a 10-year old, I expect great things on the football field.
Did you catch the 2nd paragraph where it says MH was picking the kid up to help him get a better basketball shot. That has to be on purpose.
Go VOLS!!!!!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to UTByrd:

If he's that aggressive with a 10-year old, I expect great things on the football field.
Did you catch the 2nd paragraph where it says MH was picking the kid up to help him get a better basketball shot. That has to be on purpose.
Go VOLS!!!!!

Yes UTB. I did catch that statement. But it sure looks like a football game to me. And I don't see a basketball in the kids hand.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

Know a job I'd like to get?? Advising Vol NFL guys on their contracts. Hell, ANY NFL guys.

Now, before you pound my head, I'm not that bright. What I'd REALLY be focusing on is this: how do we create lifelong income for guys who typically only think about next week?? How do we tax-advantage their playing days??

All too often, it seems like the guys are broke within a couple of years of leaving the league. Just makes no sense.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

The date was 10 November 1776

The place was called Tun Tavern.

That's right folks, another bar that made serious history.

On that date in Tun Tavern the United States Marine Corps was founded.

The rest is history still in the making today.

In todays world however it's doubtful that anything really good and meaningful will happen in a bar with alot of people drinking too much.

What CDD and Mr Lott are putting in place and just now getting started on will have a MUCH bigger impact than most people will understand and it WILL help on the football field as well.

I also believe that in a couple of years our Vol for Life program will also help us land some more top recruits.

Any parent that wouldn't want their kids to leave their home and go to a college with a program like this and led by a super successful person like Mr Lott really isn't much of a parent in my humble opinion.

There's MUCH more important things to learn at college than football and passing some classes and they come to the hill as kids but they should leave the hill as well rounded and very well prepared adults that will make themselves, their families and UT very proud.

GO BIG ORANGE !!!

AHoffman writes:

A good move. Thanks coach Dooley.

BrassMonkey writes:

in response to UTByrd:

If he's that aggressive with a 10-year old, I expect great things on the football field.
Did you catch the 2nd paragraph where it says MH was picking the kid up to help him get a better basketball shot. That has to be on purpose.
Go VOLS!!!!!

I think a "basketball shot" is a new kind of drink. It is powerful enough to make loser football players feel like winners. A real courage shot if you will.

TNVol72 writes:

Be careful... some "do-gooder" will accuse him of being too aggressive or even worse, being too "touchy feely."

richvol writes:

Dooley is a smart man. This is not only needed for the development of our young men it should help our image and recruiting in the long run. So many of these young men come from single parent families and need this type of instruction. Life skills need to be taught in our middle and high schools as well.

VOLliven2it writes:

Young men at UT will gain a LOTT(pun intended)from this program. The Wesley Center helps some of the most underprivileged in Knoxville. For our guys to be there(whatever Hughes is up to)will be a big benefit. Keep it up Andre, help some guys who need a wake up call sometimes when they see people who will likely never have the chance in life they are getting as Vol players and possibly later NFL players. I like it and am glad Lott is on board.

knoxdude writes:

Nice article, but it's the Wesley House, not Wesley Center.

bkgunter writes:

in response to always_vol:

Know a job I'd like to get?? Advising Vol NFL guys on their contracts. Hell, ANY NFL guys.

Now, before you pound my head, I'm not that bright. What I'd REALLY be focusing on is this: how do we create lifelong income for guys who typically only think about next week?? How do we tax-advantage their playing days??

All too often, it seems like the guys are broke within a couple of years of leaving the league. Just makes no sense.

Average career is like 3 years or less, 100% injury rate, no guaranteed contracts, and most of the contract $$ you read about are pretend numbers that are never paid out. The vast majority of these guys make good salaries for a few years and that's it. Most of us would not be set for life either under similar circumstances.

Volunatic writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Sam
I am often tempted to say nothing good ever comes out of a bar. I would be wrong.
In Dec 16 1773 a group of around 200 men drank almost all day. They attended a meeting that morning at The Old South Meeting Lodge (A Pub I believe) That night they stormed the British Ships in Boston Harbor and dumped their cargo into the Sea (Tea)The Boston Tea Party Dec 16 1773. Right or wrong sometime people have to have a catalyst to help them do what is right and needing done. Just saying.
PS David Crockett and his men were stoned before they left Tenn for Texas

So were Davy Crockett and pals just looking for some TX BBQ to quell their munchies?

Volunatic writes:

"No matter who you are, you've got to turn pro as a man."

The trolls around here try their best to disprove that on a daily basis.

eprahm (Inactive) writes:

What a neat story. Thanks for sharing that with us.

eprahm (Inactive) writes:

Somebody asked Joe Paterno what was his most successful team of all time. His answer was "the team that produced the most succeesful men in life after college". Maybe we can develope that attitude.

johnlg00 writes:

I knew Lott a bit during his UT playing days. He seemed more mature than most even as a freshman. Glad to see that he has found a position where he can benefit both himself and the football program.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to bkgunter:

Average career is like 3 years or less, 100% injury rate, no guaranteed contracts, and most of the contract $$ you read about are pretend numbers that are never paid out. The vast majority of these guys make good salaries for a few years and that's it. Most of us would not be set for life either under similar circumstances.

You have a good handle on it. As a minimum, though, these guys could have some sort of living wage annuity set up. As you say, it won't set you up for life, but it'd make a nice steady cushion to get your feet under you.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to always_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

odd one to remove, but so be it.

Volstory writes:

Now we are getting somewhere. I believe this approach will not only help these young men for their life's work but it should also help with recruiting. What reasonable parent would not want this approach for their son. Prepared to play in the NFL, if they so choose, and the character to know how to handle all that goes with it. Good move Coach Dooley. It may take a while but you are on the right path.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Im guessing Andre Lott wasnt there yet as the wellness coach when the bar brawl happened?

oskie_score writes:

Thanks for this article...a nice balance of positive publicity to offset the recent off-colored events / news.

Terrific foresight CDD! An outstanding program with tremendous potential and certainly warranted and whose positive actions will have an ongoing, multifaceted ripple effect presently and in years to come.

Good luck Andre!

Southland writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Sam
I am often tempted to say nothing good ever comes out of a bar. I would be wrong.
In Dec 16 1773 a group of around 200 men drank almost all day. They attended a meeting that morning at The Old South Meeting Lodge (A Pub I believe) That night they stormed the British Ships in Boston Harbor and dumped their cargo into the Sea (Tea)The Boston Tea Party Dec 16 1773. Right or wrong sometime people have to have a catalyst to help them do what is right and needing done. Just saying.
PS David Crockett and his men were stoned before they left Tenn for Texas

So stupid Davey Crockett led a church group from Waterloo alabama to settle in Ft Worth Texas If you think you are being funny try somewhere other than here

smokies_old_soul writes:

as long as the Vol Football Program is teaching character, they might want to start by letting Montario know that some stranger bumping into him at a bar is not a challenge to his manhood or his race - this ain't Pelican Bay.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

So were Davy Crockett and pals just looking for some TX BBQ to quell their munchies?

They should've just taken I-40 to Memphis and visited the Neely's, cuz Texas BBQ is terrible

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