Former Vol Brent Vinson: 'I need football'

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."

Austin Ward may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 32

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

Sounds like a tough road back... I hope it works out for him.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Man has owned up.

Wish him the best.

Only a crawdad looks backward.

Bufforange00 writes:

unfortunately you are judged by your actions and not words.

Ironcity writes:

Unfortunately I don't think he has grown up yet. I wish him well but I think he forgot why he was in college and that is going to be his ultimate downfall.

Huttdawg100 writes:

Somebody needs to get this guy to have a one on one conversation with Janzen Jackson. Coach Dooley needs to call this guy and set it up. Janzen Jackson is only a few months away from millions of dollars. Come back to school. Go to class, workout hard. Be a good citizen. Good things are right around the corner. Take Vinson's story as a lesson. Don't blow this opportunity.

Laydbakvol writes:

He says he needs football to get through life, but I hope he has a plan B just in case.

MrBamSeydu writes:

Blah, Blah Blah.... keep saying all the right things Brent. You aren't going to play in the NFL. You could barely make it on the field when you WERE at UT. Get over it. Move on. Find a job.

MrBamSeydu writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Man has owned up.

Wish him the best.

Only a crawdad looks backward.

A crawdad.... and NFL team owners, scouts coaches......

CoverOrange writes:

Life is 10% what happens to you
20% how your react to it
and
70% what you make happen

VOLliven2it writes:

You made your bed man and you have to lie in it for now. But you can make your life better. One thing needs to be settled now, stay away from the darker side. It would be tragic for you to see your NFL dream come true only to go there and blow it on bad deals. A lot of junk is always out there waiting, STAY AWAY from it whether or not you go on with football.

mdvol writes:

Don't blame Kiffin for cutting him. And this little "feel good" article about Vinson doesnt change my impression of him. Tooooo much junk in the trunk.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Wow....sounds like he's trying to straighten up. Maybe he can but I sure doubt it.

Go Vols!

wazzya69vol writes:

The jury is still out, literally!! GBO, beat the hogs.

PdxVol writes:

Hey who knows? he might be the next Nick Reveiz

give_him_6 writes:

Good luck young man.Most people who do what you have done don't get a second chance at life that amounts to much. You may have that chance...do your best and help others along the way that are lost!! Make good!

cmcfalls writes:

They need to have him, and others, come back and talk to the team each year and inform them about making bad decisions and throwing your future away. I think it could really help open the eyes of the guys currently on campus.

Madkels writes:

in response to Bufforange00:

unfortunately you are judged by your actions and not words.

Not if your name is Obama.

Madkels writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Unfortunately I don't think he has grown up yet. I wish him well but I think he forgot why he was in college and that is going to be his ultimate downfall.

He still believes that college is a short stepping stone to the NFL. Instead of understanding that you have to "earn" your way, he felt and still does, that he is good enough to skip that step (college). Much like most youth today, they expect immediate gratification and results.

easleychuck writes:

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.

"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.

The 2 snippets above from the article make it fairly obvious that this guy really didn't get it while he was at UT. Add in the fact that he did not attend class the way that he should have @ N.Alabama after being given a second chance at a new school. This, of course, was after blowing (literally) multiple chances @ UT and there is really very little reason to take this guy seriously.

He and his high school buddy, Duke Crews both wasted more athletic talent than any dozen people might contain in their bodies.

Sad, very sad waste of talent.

hglover40#234154 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dawson, Clifton (2007 - 2008) IND
Dockery, John (1968 - 1973) NY Jets

Harvard grads who won super bowls - Ok they didn't win them but they were on the winning team. :)

jimr07 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or, Vandy grads.

volaholic45 writes:

Vinson is a master at the modern art form of self-excusing guilt-speak. That stuff I did isn’t me – it’s just my past. Good people will see the difference. Moral wrongs become “bad decisions” and “immature mistakes,” the moral component diluted by lumping them together with stupidities like getting a tattoo or buying IPIX stock. The self-accusation is stronger with the word “lying,” but it was only to himself. All together, it’s just the “stuff I’ve been through” and “what happens to you” like high school or the flu.

The author is no slouch, either. Vinson had “problems with attending class” and “some issues tied to marijuana.” Most all UT students actually in class have problems with attending class, especially when it’s boring and hard and sunny outside and they would rather be somewhere else, maybe having an “issue” tied to some marijuana.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m for the kid. I hope he gets it all turned around and a shot at the big show too. It’s just that the “mistakes were made” world we live in gets to me sometimes.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Just another on a long list of wasted talent due to stupidity. He had no business being in college anyway.

RunningWithTheVols writes:

Excuses, excuses. UT invested thousands of dollars in this guy and he washed out multiple times. He's not a Pacman Jones talent. There are 50+ guys trying to get into the NFL with as much talent and 10X the character, so Brent, you are toast.

Welcome to the Real World.

Your resume speaks for itself.

VolsSquid writes:

GOOD LUCK BROSEPH!! FREE TICKETS TO GAMES WHEN YOU MAKE IT!!!!!!!!! CAUSE YOU'LL MAKE IT IF YOU KEEP THAT ATTITUDE UP.

DancingOutlaw writes:

in response to volaholic45:

Vinson is a master at the modern art form of self-excusing guilt-speak. That stuff I did isn’t me – it’s just my past. Good people will see the difference. Moral wrongs become “bad decisions” and “immature mistakes,” the moral component diluted by lumping them together with stupidities like getting a tattoo or buying IPIX stock. The self-accusation is stronger with the word “lying,” but it was only to himself. All together, it’s just the “stuff I’ve been through” and “what happens to you” like high school or the flu.

The author is no slouch, either. Vinson had “problems with attending class” and “some issues tied to marijuana.” Most all UT students actually in class have problems with attending class, especially when it’s boring and hard and sunny outside and they would rather be somewhere else, maybe having an “issue” tied to some marijuana.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m for the kid. I hope he gets it all turned around and a shot at the big show too. It’s just that the “mistakes were made” world we live in gets to me sometimes.

I'm not a bad person, I've just done bad things. That's not me. I mean, it was me doing those things, but that's not how I am. I am good person who does bad stuff. But the bad stuff wasn't done by the new me, it was done by the old me and he moved to Tampa or something.

Get it?

DynastyVols writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

kcbigorngX writes:

Let's not forget his thug days were as a teenager. Most teens I've ever known act stupidly, regardless of their family environment. The majority of them just don't get caught.

How 'bout we give this one a chance to prove he can be a man.

doctorvol#211700 writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Somebody needs to get this guy to have a one on one conversation with Janzen Jackson. Coach Dooley needs to call this guy and set it up. Janzen Jackson is only a few months away from millions of dollars. Come back to school. Go to class, workout hard. Be a good citizen. Good things are right around the corner. Take Vinson's story as a lesson. Don't blow this opportunity.

jackson's situation in no way compares

Bufforange00 writes:

in response to Madkels:

Not if your name is Obama.

Obama was judged on words and not actions because he had no track record and his words were all most Americans had to go on. He will be judged with more scrutiny when he comes up for reelection. To be fair, many of the issues he faces were generations in the making; but he is not doing himself any favors by leading us further down the path of ruin.

NashvillePreds writes:

"What I want is what I've not got, and what I need is all around me"

UT4MeGoVols writes:

I am amazed at some of these comments. Its disheartening to see people judge him or anyone else, especially on the internet? It is so easy to sit behind a computer screen, to read articles and to think you know someone because you think you’ve heard stories of others like them. What do you know about his path, his life, or the things he has witnessed and been through? Have you sat down and had a conversation with him, do you know what is in his heart? All his life people like some of you have wished ill upon him, told him he’d never make it and judged him for being the way he is. Perhaps taking a look at his circumstances, why he is the way he is, the people that have made up his entire life, and then how about wishing some positivity and blessings for this man. Many of the same people making character judgments after reading or hearing a story wouldn’t last a minute in Vinson’s shoes. I am not making excuses for his actions, he knows he was wrong and has a lot of growing and maturing to do but the nerve of some of you all to wish ill upon this man’s dream is disgraceful. Despite your personal feelings on his character, even though I am sure most of you do not know him personally, when it comes to someone’s dreams, goals, ambition and passion have some respect. “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself” and some of you, even from behind a computer screen are a great reflection of the hate that ruins our world today. It would be great if even half of the same people, cynics that put out negativity, evil and hate lent a hand to people they see in need. What do you get out of spewing hate anyway? You don’t have to like him, you can disagree with his habits, and you can dislike his attitude but how inhumane of you to attempt to trample on his dreams. Vinson, will go far because he has the Heart of a Lion and the passion and determination to get him through it. He’s a good young-man he’s just experienced a lot of hardship, has few positive role models and is battling to get out of the lifestyle he’s had to adapt. Best of luck to you Vinson!

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