Mike Strange: Tyler Bray hungry to improve

Mike Strange
University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is interviewed during a media luncheon Monday at Neyland Stadium. The Vols' first fall practice is Tuesday and the team opens the season Sept. 3 against Montana. (PAUL EFIRD/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Paul Efird

University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is interviewed during a media luncheon Monday at Neyland Stadium. The Vols' first fall practice is Tuesday and the team opens the season Sept. 3 against Montana. (PAUL EFIRD/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tyler Bray is slightly heavier and looking forward to new season

Eat, play, watch.

I asked Tyler Bray, Tennessee's sophomore quarterback on Monday how his summer went.

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.''

Eat what?

"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.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 20

UTByrd writes:

Eat, pray, love.....UT football.
Go VOLS!!!!!

PlaidinOrangeandWhite writes:

Just win Baby!

Dalton writes:

Rather have him built like a young Peyton Manning than a young Ryan Leaf....remember Leaf gained 60 pounds between the Rose Bowl and the draft.....must've chomped sticks of butter like celery....and as Peyton can attest, metabolism slows down....then go easy on the quarter pounders

SummittsCourt writes:

Bray for Heisman in 2012? Don't be surprised!

tdvol1989 writes:

I have never made this comment before, but the typos and misspellings are OUT OF CONTROL!!! Seriously, it is kind of Bubba.

walt2010 writes:

Weight gain powder? I would hope he's taking some if he is trying to gain weight because you almost can't help but gain with that stuff.

go_vols_go writes:

One more month ladies and gentlemen!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

EAT, EAT, EAT! As Tauren Poole said, "Those little bitty arms" need some meat on them!

UofTNVol writes:

in response to Dalton:

Rather have him built like a young Peyton Manning than a young Ryan Leaf....remember Leaf gained 60 pounds between the Rose Bowl and the draft.....must've chomped sticks of butter like celery....and as Peyton can attest, metabolism slows down....then go easy on the quarter pounders

I don't think Leaf's problem was too many hamburgers.

givehim6 writes:

I hope with all the eating he is doing he is pumping some iron too. All that eating and no running or exercising is not good. But I'm sure the coaches have this under control.

springtx_vol writes:

Bray must have some high metabolism. I can walk into Moe's and gain 10 pounds just on smell. Bray only gains 7 pounds over the summer? He needs to hang out with Hood!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

My mantra has been burgers and Haagen Daaz. Moe's works too....Good for Tyler...Good for us....Go Big Orange....Go big...Or go home...

buzz29 writes:

Hopefully, he's also matured beyond making the ridiculous celebrative hand gestures which only increase the odds of the team to receive penalties.

alfrizzle097 writes:

Nothing is so useless as a general maxim.
-- Thomas Babington Macaulay, Unknown , born October 25, 1800

yankintenn#395643 writes:

wow-that was sure an insightful article....The Vol QB has worked out this summer and ate a lot...where do we mail the Pulitzer prize?

Ayres_Hall writes:

Wish I had the confidence some of you have in Bray. The neck-slashing thing he showed in the Music City Bowl still bothers me. I hope he has matured and understands his role.

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Wish I had the confidence some of you have in Bray. The neck-slashing thing he showed in the Music City Bowl still bothers me. I hope he has matured and understands his role.

I agree with your comment. That one instant said alot more about his maturity level at that time than a million written or spoken words. Hopefully, he learned from the flack I'm sure he heard over it, though. Coach Dooley did say he is a work in progress...

hamneggs writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Bray for Heisman in 2012? Don't be surprised!

Give me a break.

ArealVolFan writes:

lol at people thinking the "throat slash" was a big deal. If we had one that guy people would talk about how much swagger he had. Its no big deal.

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Wish I had the confidence some of you have in Bray. The neck-slashing thing he showed in the Music City Bowl still bothers me. I hope he has matured and understands his role.

Get over it

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