UT's Rivera, who signed with Oregon in 2008, 'just real focused'

Tight end feels he didn't get a fair shot with Ducks

UT's Mychal Rivera catches a pass during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

UT's Mychal Rivera catches a pass during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010.

Vols on Oregon: 'One heck of a challenge'

If Mychal Rivera has looked a step or two slow in practice this week, it's probably because he's got a Neyland Stadium-sized chip on his shoulder.

"I'm just real focused," the Tennessee tight end said.

"Trying to get the victory, that's first and foremost, and I'm just trying to go out and show everybody what I'm about and what they missed out on."

"They" would be Oregon, where Rivera originally signed out of Birmingham High School in Los Angeles in 2008.

He'll get a shot at his old team Saturday night when the Vols play host to the seventh-ranked Ducks (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.)

Rivera, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore, redshirted his freshman season before leaving the program in April of 2009. He spent last season at College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif., and signed with UT in February.

"Out of high school that was a great program," Rivera said. "After (former Oregon) Coach (Mike) Bellotti left, the program just wasn't fit for me anymore. It changed a lot, and I just looked otherwise.

"It changed in certain ways that I wasn't really on the depth chart too much. I was getting overlooked, and I really didn't feel like I had a shot (to play). So I made a decision for me and my family and I left.

"After that I did the junior college route to bounce back and I ended up here."

Rivera played extensively in UT's season-opening win over UT Martin on special teams and UT's two-tight-end set. He caught one pass for seven yards and fielded the short kickoff to open the game.

With his first college game under his belt, he enters Saturday with something to prove.

"Oh yeah, of course," he said.

"That's how life is, everybody tells you you can't do something and you have to prove them wrong. That's what this game is for me, and that's how my life is, proving everybody wrong that doubted me."

But to say Rivera views Saturday simply as a shot at his old team would be an understatement.

Not only has he been counting down the days to when the Vols play Oregon, the opportunity to prove himself factored into his decision to pick UT over offers from South Carolina and Kansas State.

"Since I had my (scholarship) offer from Tennessee," Rivera said, "I looked the schedule up, I (saw) Oregon, I said, 'I have to come here.'

"Yeah, I'm not going to lie, it did (influence his decision). That wasn't my sole reason for coming here, (but) I saw that and that added a little bit, you could say."

Rivera said he doesn't really keep in contact with many of his former teammates. He's also gotten rid of most of his old Oregon gear and keeps the leftovers in the back of his closet.

He also knows he can't allow his personal feelings and emotions interfere with how he plays on the field Saturday, so he's upping the ante in practice this week.

"I know the harder I work in practice, the better I'll do in the game," Rivera said.

"The more I think about Oregon, the more I want to catch more balls in practice, hit people harder in practice, cause I know it's going to turn over to the game."

Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 43

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict......sorry..........
Ducklets 33
Orange 17

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Here's what you would rather have him say. "We know we probably aren't going to win, and that I probably won't get in the game because I'm not very good. I hope we can keep it close, like maybe 0-40."
That sound better? We need to sound wimpy and not confident, right?

mdvol writes:

Lots of Rivera and Stocker in 2 TE sets on Saturday! Pound the rock and pound it some more! Our O-line averages 6'4" and 315.

Vols win Saturday.

We are going to surprise some damn people.
We will upset either Florida or Alabama.

west_GA_Volsfan writes:

Well, personally I hope he kicks some ducky butt and proves something to them and to us. I'm excited for his future here, and when Luke leaves, we will still have him here to keep us going. We need some more big time tight ends. At one time (Whitten) we were known in some circles as Tight end U. Enough from me - just this: UT 27, Duckies 24. GBO

volsfannsc writes:

Frankly I like that chip on his shoulder. This will be his come-out game...just watch. Go get'em Mychal! GO VOLS!

VolGrad writes:

Say Mychal, tell us how you really feel:

"I don't Oregon, and I know they probably don't like me. I'm going to go out there and do my best to make them wish they'd all stayed home. I see someone wearing those colors, I just want to get in their face and ask them what their problem is. I can hardly wait for gametime; I've never wanted to hit someone so bad in my life."

West10VolNHouston writes:

Well another season is underway, and typically I just sit back and read the comments for sheer entertainment, but now the first challenge of the year has prompted me to comment! Make no mistake people, we will be tested. Severely tested! Throw out all the SEC is superior to the Pac-10 bravado. How has that worked out for us as a program recently? Three L's in a row, I know you remember that! Better yet all-time, our record against the Pac-10 is a mighty 14-13-3. Not exactly a dominating statistic is it? Oregon is a lot better than the UCLA team that we played the last two years for sure! Are we better? Only time will tell, but we have to grow up in a hurry at quarterback, the o-line, and develop depth in the front 7! Now add to that list inexperienced receivers being counted on for big plays. There is much more to their position that just running a go or a post route! This is not 1998. We are not returning that type of talent! This is a 3 to 5 year rebuilding process and this is year one. While I would love to come on here and say we are a national title contender, the reality of the situation is IMO that we could go anywhere from 5-7 to 7-5. Coaches typically say that the team with the best talent wins 85 to 90 percent of the time! Also, respect your opponent(ask Ole Miss, and to some degree Florida). When you look down our schedule do we have better players than 8 more teams on our schedule(already beat UTM)? I'm seeing 8-4 and 9-3 predictions on this site. I hope you are right! I guess at the end of the day what I'm trying to say in a world of instant gratification is give this staff time! It's not going to happen overnight! I'm rooting as hard for them as anyone, and I'm not going to be calling for Coach Dooley's head if we start off 1-2! Unrealistic expectations about the current state of affairs on Rocky Top could cause him to lose his job really quick! With all that being said, I think the team will play hard Saturday, and with a few breaks, may have a shot in the 4th quarter! Go Vols!

ClearVol writes:

in response to West10VolNHouston:

Well another season is underway, and typically I just sit back and read the comments for sheer entertainment, but now the first challenge of the year has prompted me to comment! Make no mistake people, we will be tested. Severely tested! Throw out all the SEC is superior to the Pac-10 bravado. How has that worked out for us as a program recently? Three L's in a row, I know you remember that! Better yet all-time, our record against the Pac-10 is a mighty 14-13-3. Not exactly a dominating statistic is it? Oregon is a lot better than the UCLA team that we played the last two years for sure! Are we better? Only time will tell, but we have to grow up in a hurry at quarterback, the o-line, and develop depth in the front 7! Now add to that list inexperienced receivers being counted on for big plays. There is much more to their position that just running a go or a post route! This is not 1998. We are not returning that type of talent! This is a 3 to 5 year rebuilding process and this is year one. While I would love to come on here and say we are a national title contender, the reality of the situation is IMO that we could go anywhere from 5-7 to 7-5. Coaches typically say that the team with the best talent wins 85 to 90 percent of the time! Also, respect your opponent(ask Ole Miss, and to some degree Florida). When you look down our schedule do we have better players than 8 more teams on our schedule(already beat UTM)? I'm seeing 8-4 and 9-3 predictions on this site. I hope you are right! I guess at the end of the day what I'm trying to say in a world of instant gratification is give this staff time! It's not going to happen overnight! I'm rooting as hard for them as anyone, and I'm not going to be calling for Coach Dooley's head if we start off 1-2! Unrealistic expectations about the current state of affairs on Rocky Top could cause him to lose his job really quick! With all that being said, I think the team will play hard Saturday, and with a few breaks, may have a shot in the 4th quarter! Go Vols!

yeah, what he/she said...

GO BIG ORANGE

TommyJack writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ridiculous post.

PdxVol writes:

in response to mdvol:

Lots of Rivera and Stocker in 2 TE sets on Saturday! Pound the rock and pound it some more! Our O-line averages 6'4" and 315.

Vols win Saturday.

We are going to surprise some damn people.
We will upset either Florida or Alabama.

Hi mdvol,

First time caller, long time listener. I have a two part question and then I'll hang up and listen off air. First, I was wondering if you think we will surprise anyone. If so, in what way will they be surprised? Do you think we will upset anyone, and if so, who?

Sweet_T writes:

in response to PdxVol:

Hi mdvol,

First time caller, long time listener. I have a two part question and then I'll hang up and listen off air. First, I was wondering if you think we will surprise anyone. If so, in what way will they be surprised? Do you think we will upset anyone, and if so, who?

Hahahaha. Well played...

PintailDrake writes:

in response to PdxVol:

Hi mdvol,

First time caller, long time listener. I have a two part question and then I'll hang up and listen off air. First, I was wondering if you think we will surprise anyone. If so, in what way will they be surprised? Do you think we will upset anyone, and if so, who?

LMAO!

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

I love the young mans confidence, work ethic and serious desire to prove himself.

I hope he has a breakout game and consistently helps us move the ball down the field into the checkerboards for a huge Vol Win and the 1st huge upset that will be heard around the world.

Stake your claim to fame young man and bring the rest of our Vols right along with you.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!

DannyVol writes:

I've been following the Vols for a long time and from what I have seen it appears that the team is focused and hungry. I like the quotes and the body language I've seen this week. I sense a collective burning in this team I have not felt in quite a while. We'll see how that translates on Saturday. Just remember this Big Orange faithful: Oregon can only put 11 on the field at the same time!!!

CroKev writes:

I really think it will be crucial how the Tight Ends play in this game. I don't see the OL being able to give Simms as much time to hit the long routes (bigger factor now with Jones hurt). The TEs are really going to have block and catch this week.

10cvolnga writes:

Mychal, hope you fill up on some of that Duck a l'orange and sweet T Saturday night!!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to mdvol:

Lots of Rivera and Stocker in 2 TE sets on Saturday! Pound the rock and pound it some more! Our O-line averages 6'4" and 315.

Vols win Saturday.

We are going to surprise some damn people.
We will upset either Florida or Alabama.

I hope we do put more emphasis on our TE's for this game since we'll be playing so many young receivers.

VolGrad writes:

"Since I had my (scholarship) offer from Tennessee," Rivera said, "I looked the schedule up, I (saw) Oregon, I said, 'I have to come here.'"

"The more I think about Oregon, the more I want to catch more balls in practice, hit people harder in practice, cause I know it's going to turn over to the game."

May all your orange and white wishes come true, Mychal. Just don't injure any of our DL or LBs this week in practice as you fantasize about that game.

gatorhator4eva writes:

in response to mdvol:

Lots of Rivera and Stocker in 2 TE sets on Saturday! Pound the rock and pound it some more! Our O-line averages 6'4" and 315.

Vols win Saturday.

We are going to surprise some damn people.
We will upset either Florida or Alabama.

totally right. i am surprised by how under rated the vols are. tn martin isnt stiff competition but when u shut a team out 50-0, the vols are doing something right. defense and offense doesn't look to shabby.i see this as a close high scoring game.tennessee's defense needs to stop oregon's run and force them to pass. simms will have to keep up if the run is too much.

Pompey writes:

in response to West10VolNHouston:

Well another season is underway, and typically I just sit back and read the comments for sheer entertainment, but now the first challenge of the year has prompted me to comment! Make no mistake people, we will be tested. Severely tested! Throw out all the SEC is superior to the Pac-10 bravado. How has that worked out for us as a program recently? Three L's in a row, I know you remember that! Better yet all-time, our record against the Pac-10 is a mighty 14-13-3. Not exactly a dominating statistic is it? Oregon is a lot better than the UCLA team that we played the last two years for sure! Are we better? Only time will tell, but we have to grow up in a hurry at quarterback, the o-line, and develop depth in the front 7! Now add to that list inexperienced receivers being counted on for big plays. There is much more to their position that just running a go or a post route! This is not 1998. We are not returning that type of talent! This is a 3 to 5 year rebuilding process and this is year one. While I would love to come on here and say we are a national title contender, the reality of the situation is IMO that we could go anywhere from 5-7 to 7-5. Coaches typically say that the team with the best talent wins 85 to 90 percent of the time! Also, respect your opponent(ask Ole Miss, and to some degree Florida). When you look down our schedule do we have better players than 8 more teams on our schedule(already beat UTM)? I'm seeing 8-4 and 9-3 predictions on this site. I hope you are right! I guess at the end of the day what I'm trying to say in a world of instant gratification is give this staff time! It's not going to happen overnight! I'm rooting as hard for them as anyone, and I'm not going to be calling for Coach Dooley's head if we start off 1-2! Unrealistic expectations about the current state of affairs on Rocky Top could cause him to lose his job really quick! With all that being said, I think the team will play hard Saturday, and with a few breaks, may have a shot in the 4th quarter! Go Vols!

Being a fan is partly unrealistic expectations, or prehaps hope is a better word.
No one here see a National or SEC title this year and Mr. Dooley is just fine. Long time observers, like me, see a young coach who has done and said all of the right things in the short time he has been here. We shall see what the future holds but for now Dooley seems to bring a lot to the table.

FamousDuck writes:

Hey Vols,
How y'all doin'? We've got rain here for the past two days, temperatures in the low 60's. Reason I mentioned this is that I've heard that it's considerable warmer in The town of Hard Knocks, the place where yankees come to get a lickin'.

I'm wonderin' whether you think that the hot weather is harder on a 300+ pound man or a 250 #'er? We've got a couple of big boys but most of our guys are in the latter size because we generally play pretty fast. Even our cheerleaders are fast (you'll see, bring your b'nox.)

Well, I'll be lookin' for a reply or seven and I'll be sure to check in again with you fine football fans tomorrow. Until then, I remain,
A very respectful,
FamousDuck

VolGrad writes:

I just hope Denarius Moore can go. He was effective both running and catching the rock against UTM. His experience and speed will be needed in this game. That reverse he ran for a TD was more than just a display of speed; he actually butted heads with a couple of UTM players simultaneously sending them crashing to the turf. If he were 6'4 and 230 lbs, that would not have been such a big deal. But at 6'1 194, that was an awesome display of power for a WR. He looked like a young Hines Ward on that play.

Go Vols!!!

VolGrad writes:

in response to FamousDuck:

Hey Vols,
How y'all doin'? We've got rain here for the past two days, temperatures in the low 60's. Reason I mentioned this is that I've heard that it's considerable warmer in The town of Hard Knocks, the place where yankees come to get a lickin'.

I'm wonderin' whether you think that the hot weather is harder on a 300+ pound man or a 250 #'er? We've got a couple of big boys but most of our guys are in the latter size because we generally play pretty fast. Even our cheerleaders are fast (you'll see, bring your b'nox.)

Well, I'll be lookin' for a reply or seven and I'll be sure to check in again with you fine football fans tomorrow. Until then, I remain,
A very respectful,
FamousDuck

It is just a matter of conditioning and that to which your body is acclimated. Besides, it will be difficult to move very fast when you are cramped up.

Until later,
BOC VolEnforcement Officer
1998 NC Drive
SEC East Division Precinct

Apkvol writes:

in response to FamousDuck:

Hey Vols,
How y'all doin'? We've got rain here for the past two days, temperatures in the low 60's. Reason I mentioned this is that I've heard that it's considerable warmer in The town of Hard Knocks, the place where yankees come to get a lickin'.

I'm wonderin' whether you think that the hot weather is harder on a 300+ pound man or a 250 #'er? We've got a couple of big boys but most of our guys are in the latter size because we generally play pretty fast. Even our cheerleaders are fast (you'll see, bring your b'nox.)

Well, I'll be lookin' for a reply or seven and I'll be sure to check in again with you fine football fans tomorrow. Until then, I remain,
A very respectful,
FamousDuck

The Ducks have 250 pound cheerleaders? There are a lot of Duck hunters in East Tennessee...

DuckingtheTrend writes:

in response to VolGrad:

It is just a matter of conditioning and that to which your body is acclimated. Besides, it will be difficult to move very fast when you are cramped up.

Until later,
BOC VolEnforcement Officer
1998 NC Drive
SEC East Division Precinct

I've never known a fanbase that touts the weather more than UT. BOTH teams have to play in the same element, plus Oregon's strength and conditioning coach is top notch. So conditioning will NOT come into play Saturday night. Bring a lucky rabbit's foot with you to Neyland, because the Sun, and balmy air aren't on your side this weekend.

FamousDuck writes:

Dear Fans,
Cheerleaders, 250 pounds? Yes, that's two (2) cheerleaders @ 125 # each. We will probably bring a ton of cheerleaders. Keep your eyes on the field if you can.

Now running backs, they come in @ 190# and leave even faster. You'll probably see some of them running around and I tell you, it'll be hard at first to see which one has the ball. Here's the secret: it'll be the first one to cross the goal line.

Our receivers are not nearly as fast. One of them is real tall and another is real wide and the best one is pretty skinny and runs best in between people. They can catch fairly well if our QB has time to get the ball to them. I hear you got some studs on the defense that are going to give us fits. That scares me.

Would you guys mind if we brought some rain with us to the game?

Still respectful and at least semi-classy,
FamousDuck

BrassMonkey writes:

in response to mdvol:

Lots of Rivera and Stocker in 2 TE sets on Saturday! Pound the rock and pound it some more! Our O-line averages 6'4" and 315.

Vols win Saturday.

We are going to surprise some damn people.
We will upset either Florida or Alabama.

I agree that we will beat either Florida or Alabama, but we will also lose either the Kentucky or Vandy game and it will end up as a zero sum gain.

VolGrad writes:

in response to DuckingtheTrend:

I've never known a fanbase that touts the weather more than UT. BOTH teams have to play in the same element, plus Oregon's strength and conditioning coach is top notch. So conditioning will NOT come into play Saturday night. Bring a lucky rabbit's foot with you to Neyland, because the Sun, and balmy air aren't on your side this weekend.

With the first sentence of my comment, I was answering FamousDuck's question regarding the 300 lb linemen vs the 250 lb. linemen, your Quackiness. Conditioning is always a factor. But I assume what you meant to say is just that the Ducks are well conditioned. That's great, and more power to them.

The last sentence of my comment was an obvious jab towards the Ducks, not related necessarily to the conditioning, but to the climate. However, by game time Saturday night, it will probably be a moot point anyway.

So you can take a chill pill, Daffy. And good luck to you.

GBO!!!

Down_The_Field writes:

this rivera kid sounds like the type that would spit a bloody tooth out of his mouth and then smile.

i like that.....i really do.

VolGrad writes:

in response to Apkvol:

The Ducks have 250 pound cheerleaders? There are a lot of Duck hunters in East Tennessee...

That's hilarious!

VolGrad writes:

"...in response to mdvol:

Lots of Rivera and Stocker in 2 TE sets on Saturday! Pound the rock and pound it some more! Our O-line averages 6'4" and 315."

Maybe we'll even show an unbalanced line just to give them something else to think about. If we weren't so thin on the DL, we might even try Montori Hughes lined up at FB.

Okay, I admit..., that's a little quacky.

VolGrad writes:

in response to FamousDuck:

Dear Fans,
Cheerleaders, 250 pounds? Yes, that's two (2) cheerleaders @ 125 # each. We will probably bring a ton of cheerleaders. Keep your eyes on the field if you can.

Now running backs, they come in @ 190# and leave even faster. You'll probably see some of them running around and I tell you, it'll be hard at first to see which one has the ball. Here's the secret: it'll be the first one to cross the goal line.

Our receivers are not nearly as fast. One of them is real tall and another is real wide and the best one is pretty skinny and runs best in between people. They can catch fairly well if our QB has time to get the ball to them. I hear you got some studs on the defense that are going to give us fits. That scares me.

Would you guys mind if we brought some rain with us to the game?

Still respectful and at least semi-classy,
FamousDuck

Bring all the rain you want. We love it. And Smokey loves duck hunting in all weather.

A ton of cheerleaders? At 125 lbs each? That's just 16 cheerleaders; we have plenty of sideline for that.

GBO!

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

If Revira is 6'5" he will need a verticle leap of 12' to have a chance at all those high balls that Simms threw at Stocker last Sat.

FamousDuck writes:

Thanks for the kind replies.

What does GBO mean?

VolGrad writes:

in response to FamousDuck:

Thanks for the kind replies.

What does GBO mean?

Go Big Orange.

And BOC is Big Orange Country.

Orange_Juiced writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Ridiculous post.

agreed. In 11 days and 115 posts, the Crip Coon is quickly lining himself up with the likes of nafie, VDGrad, and their ilk. After a while, he will slowly fade away like DocVol50 and others.

volsfannsc writes:

I see this game as a special teams play or a turnover will determine the game. I believe our D will slow down the ducks considerably. Sorry, but I envision our offense as being staus quo- unless our tight ends and WR's start gaining some ground. 12.5 line on the game - I dont see it. I'll take the odds.

orangecountyvols writes:

It's football time again. Turn on the bright lights and let's get on with it !

Go Vols ! Isn't that just Ducky?

Or is the better word..........Daffy?

oskie_score writes:

The thing about talkin' smack...you'd better (be able to) back it up.
On the the field Mychal, let your play (not your mouth) do the talkin' for ya'.

mercyseat writes:

in response to FamousDuck:

Thanks for the kind replies.

What does GBO mean?

famous duck?.....(Is this erik ainge?)

SocalDuck writes:

A former Duck who couldn't make the depth chart is fired up to play us. Just imagine if you couldn't signed ALL of our players who didn't make the depth chart...the possibilities are endless! :)

Just meant in humor--couldn't resist and I'm sure he's a great player!!!

FamousDuck writes:

Naw, I'm not erik ainge or Danny Ainge either, neither of which I believe were ANY kind of Duck. I'm the guy that came to chat respectfully and share information. I now feel like your hospitality (of which I had heard the best) might could stand an orange adjustment, perhaps even an apology. Several folks have been real nice and several have been snotty. Well, I won't take it personal and, win or lose, I hope that you'll appreciate the way that our young men play and the way that our young ladies cheer. I am positive that they will represent our coaches, school, state, and its citizens in an exemplary fashion, so much so that you might even cheer for them at game's end.
Again, with great respect,
FamousDuck

foglineduck writes:

Oregon's offense is a bit of a hybrid. The fact that Mychal didn't see himself on the depth chart has little to do with his overall talent and he shouldn't take it that way. He may very well turn out to be a tremendous asset in Tennessee's scheme!

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