The access to a sparkling indoor practice facility is long gone.
So, too, are the piles of workout clothes he used to wear, the games in a stadium packed with 100,000 fans and most of the attention his incredible physical talents used to draw.
Just a few miles from where he used to workout on the Tennessee campus in one of the best environments in the country, Brent Vinson is plowing through drills in a long, bare-bones gym that could easily be confused for a storage facility without a second glance.
The path for the former Vols defensive back has taken him elsewhere, but a little more than a year after parting ways with UT, he's right back in Knoxville and training under the watchful eye of Charles Petrone. The new trainer has an impressive resume and has proved several times over what his program can do for an athlete with so much raw athleticism, but Petrone might as well be running the Last Chance Gym for Vinson - a fact that certainly doesn't escape the NFL hopeful.
"I just wanted somebody that was going to be able to judge me for me, not from my past," Vinson said recently after finishing up another two-a-day workout. "I'm trying to move forward. The whole experience at UT - I just made bad decisions. I wasn't doing right and made a lot of immature mistakes, and I was lying to myself saying I didn't need football.
"I need football just like some little kids need teddy bears. I need football to get through life. It's something that teaches me discipline, teaches me how to push and stuff. Life is rough, man. It's a learning experience, and I'm maturing, just realizing my life is an hourglass and I'm not going to get a chance to do this ever again."
Vinson readily admits he blew his shot with the Vols, though he still takes exception with the way his parting was phrased and handled by then-coach Lane Kiffin.
Vinson had some problems with attending class both at UT and last year at North Alabama by his own admission, though he maintains he was eligible for the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia Tech in December 2009 until Kiffin announced Vinson's departure earlier in the month. He had a run-in with the law during a murder investigation, though charges against him were dropped. And Vinson also had some issues tied to marijuana, both as a user and a dealer.
But whether or not Vinson had earned his sentence to a senior year at North Alabama, ultimately it appears to have been a wake-up call. And if he needed one more in a last-gasp push to realize his dream of playing in the NFL, he seems to have found it with Petrone.
"I didn't have any of the UT apparel, I didn't have 108,000 fans or any of that stuff anymore," Vinson said. "But I had kids, other guys that have been through the same stuff I've been through. I knew how to bounce back, I knew how to practice, so I took the stuff I learned at UT and I was a burning light at North Alabama. I worked hard every day, I didn't get in any trouble there - none. No character issues except for a couple classes missed, and I'm not afraid to say that. I'm human.
"I had a real good season. It made me love football again. And Charlie has made me find that fuel, that fire. It's changed my life."
The questions about why Vinson needed to make those adjustments aren't going to go away, though, and if anything, answering for his character could be the most important part of his bid to make it to the next level. But he'll almost certainly get the opportunity to do it.
Vinson appealed to UT to participate in Pro Day on Friday, though he was denied per school policy to limit the workouts only to players who finished their careers with the program or left in good academic standing. But he'll still get a chance to audition next week with North Alabama after nabbing three interceptions and returning one for a touchdown there last year. And scouts are typically willing to make a trip anywhere to see a player who could post a vertical jump around 40 inches, a 40-yard dash around 4.4 seconds or broad jump more than 10 feet.
"I just want to show that I'm not the same person they thought I was," Vinson said. "I never was the same person they said I was, a bad guy. I'm not, I just made wrong decisions. I didn't reach my full potential at UT. I didn't do what I was capable of doing, and it just disappoints me. I wasted three years. If I would have done the right things - it kept me away from my goal. I want to play in the NFL, and I know I can do it, man.
"At UT I made mistakes, selling drugs for money, that caused me to be around the wrong people and caused me to be in the trouble I got into. It's in the past. The way I look at it is, life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond. I'm just all about responding. It took something serious, but I haven't been happy or smiled like this in a while.
"This is what I need to get back."