Tyler Bray is slightly heavier and looking forward to new season
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- Coach Derek Dooley on the start of the Vols' fall camp
Eat, play, watch.
He spent a lot of time on the practice field with his offensive teammates in informal seven-on-seven drills.
"We're more like brothers now,'' Bray said. "We were just teammates last year.''
He studied videotape of every game from the 2010 season. Has them all on his laptop at his house. Even — cringe — the North Carolina game when his final pass of the season was intercepted in overtime.
"I finally looked at it,'' Bray said. "I just try to forget about it. It's hard to forget that one but you've just got to move on.
And he ate. Ate like there was no tomorrow.
"I'm eating constantly,'' Bray reported. "There's probably about an hour goes by that I don't eat.''
"I pretty much eat anything I can see in front of me."
I thought of boxer George Foreman. He had a joke that he was on the See-Food Diet: "I see food. I eat it.''
If Bray is on the Weight Watchers Diet, he's going the other direction. Watching the scales move up.
If he's on the Atkins Diet, it's the Doug Atkins Diet.
"Before, it was eat like three or four times a day,'' he said. "Now, it's six to seven times a day. Even more.''
UT refused to confirm or deny a rumor that it sent Bray under an assumed name to the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on the Fourth of July.
Welcome to Moe's! Bray hears it in his sleep. Chances are if you were at Moe's Southwest Grill on The Strip this summer, you ran into Bray.
"Probably two to three times a week, two or three burritos as a time,'' he said. "It's been kind of rough on the Moe's.''
The real rough stuff is just beginning. The Vols open practice today. But that's just friendly fire. On twelve Saturdays this fall, Bray will be ground zero of every opponent's pass rush.
That's one motivation for the 24/7 buffet.
Bray is 6-foot-6 and is built more like a pogo stick than a tackling dummy. He played at around 195 pounds as a true freshman. Even with all the carbs and chips and quarter-pounders he's only up to 202 for the start of camp.
Does he notice a difference?
"Oh, yeah,'' he said. "I feel stronger, bigger, got a little more zip on the ball.''
Coach Derek Dooley isn't micromanaging Bray's calorie count or bench press. He's a bottom-line guy.
"As long as he can take the hits and elude the pass rush, I'm OK,'' Dooley said.
He's also OK with what he saw from Bray in the maturity and leadership departments. Per NCAA rules, coaches don't have a lot of contact with players in the summer. But they can still have regular conversations.
Bray is only beginning his sophomore season but he is in a leadership position on a youngish roster with precious few veteran seniors.
"You earn the respect of (being) a leader based on your level of commitment to the program,'' Dooley said. "People have a hard time respecting anybody if they don't see them doing everything they can do to help us win.
"I think he's proving that part.''
He's proving it on the field, setting a tone when the coaches aren't around. He's proving it by poring over the videotape, grasping every nuance of the playbook.
And he's proving it with a knife and fork. He'll have another couple of burritos, please.