Mike Strange: Former Vols have high expectations

Mike Strange

Tobias Harris on the a3 Big Brothers Big Sisters Celebrity Golf Tournament

Eric Berry on the a3 Big Brothers Big Sisters Celebrity Golf Tournament

Laughter was ringing from the hills of Northeast Knox County on Friday. If a stranger wandered into Three Ridges Golf Course, he or she would quickly realize this was no normal afternoon on the links.

The first clue would be the prevalence of 4XL and/or XLT men climbing in and out of the carts.

Another would be shots spraying hither and yon, although Eric Berry claimed via Twitter to have “just pulled off a true birdie.’’

A formidable crew from Tennessee’s athletic past meshed with several of the hometown Allegiant Athletic Agency’s (a3) pro clients to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The vibe was upbeat, in spite of the turbulence that has roiled the waters since any of these guys last wore orange.

To hear the ex-Vols tell it, good things are on the horizon for football and basketball.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic on the basketball program:

“I think the team they have right now is a Final Four team,’’ said Harris, who would be pointing to his senior year had he not been a first-round draft pick in 2011 following his freshman season.

“I expect them to get to the Final Four. I don’t expect them to settle for anything less than that.’’

No pressure or anything, Cuonzo Martin, it’s just that the program’s rising NBA face expects to see you in Dallas next April instead of the NIT.

I didn’t hear anyone project the football Vols to be in the BCS championship game Jan. 6 in Pasadena.

“Everybody needs to realize it’s a process, you can’t just win championships overnight,’’ said the aforementioned Berry, the Pro Bowl safety with the Kansas City Chiefs.

At least the ex-Vols are comfortable with the man who is now in charge of that process, Butch Jones.

Since Jones was hired in December to replace Derek Dooley, we’ve heard a chorus of thanks from former players who feel welcome to be part of the program again. Friday was more of the same.

“He’s a man of his word, first of all,’’ said Von Reeves, the only tight end I’ve ever seen throw a touchdown pass (1990, to Carl Pickens against Florida).

“He has done everything he has told us that he wanted to do so far. I’m behind him 500 percent.’’

Reeves, a homegrown Knoxvillian, was among the many ex-Vols offended by Dooley’s call-first policy for visiting.

“In my opinion,’’ Reeves said, “that was a slap in the face.

“I played with Leroy Thompson (at Austin-East) and some other guys and when they go to Penn State and these other places, they get treated like family, like royalty. I never felt that.’’

Reggie Cobb, another Knoxville product and one of UT’s better tailbacks (1987-89), scouts the West Coast for the San Francisco 49ers. He’s a regular visitor on campuses and is glad UT will again have an open door.

“We’re a family,’’ said Cobb, “and it’s important for the kids to see guys that make it, and not just playing ... to see a guy come by in a suit and be able to tell his story of what he’s doing.’’

Recruiting is the lifeblood of the process. Two young Berry twins, Elliott and Evan, are prominent on UT’s wish list for 2014. Big brother said he’s staying on the sidelines in this one.

“I only get involved when they ask me questions,’’ Eric said. “When they do bring it up, I just tell ‘em how it is. I don’t sugarcoat nothing. I give ‘em the whole 100.

“Where they want to go, that’s up to them.’’

But if they were to ask him what he thought about Butch Jones?

“I feel like, right now, we’ve got a guy who’s gonna be here,’’ Berry said, “a guy that’s really dedicated to this team and the players who play on this team and the

university.

“All in all, I think he’s gonna turn it around.’’

Take that for what it’s worth. Presumably, a3 will throw another golf bash next summer. We’ll check back on the vibe.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at Strangemike44.

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Comments » 16

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

The article mentioned (a3) but what we really need is (B3), Berry, Bates, and Berry !!!!!

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

The article mentioned (a3) but what we really need is (B3), Berry, Bates, and Berry !!!!!

I'll drink to that!!

vol98champ writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

The article mentioned (a3) but what we really need is (B3), Berry, Bates, and Berry !!!!!

Ay least we are in the running. Last year we probably weren't even that. Be positive Vol fans and Orange cream will continue to rise.

mborokyvol writes:

Berry needs to get up off of it and get his brothers to come to UT! Can't be a Vol family if he doesn't help keep them in the famly. Come on Eric take one for the team, or how about two!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mborokyvol:

Berry needs to get up off of it and get his brothers to come to UT! Can't be a Vol family if he doesn't help keep them in the famly. Come on Eric take one for the team, or how about two!

Have you ever had any brothers you could push around like that? After the age of five? Have you ever even tried to talk a brother out of ANYTHING he had his mind set on? And on the side of this issue to be persuaded are two TWINS? If that has worked for you, you have a very unusual family(;-P)!

johnlg00 writes:

PS: I would LOVE for the Vols to acquire the entire matched set of Berry football players. I just put my trust in the twins' ability to arrive at the correct decision without fraternal coercion. After all, it's THEIR sweat that will be dropping on whichever field THEY designate, and THEY will more or less be stuck with the consequences if things don't work out wherever that turns out to be.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to johnlg00:

PS: I would LOVE for the Vols to acquire the entire matched set of Berry football players. I just put my trust in the twins' ability to arrive at the correct decision without fraternal coercion. After all, it's THEIR sweat that will be dropping on whichever field THEY designate, and THEY will more or less be stuck with the consequences if things don't work out wherever that turns out to be.

John, you are dead on with that insight. I ended up going to a school because my uncle was a legacy there. I was never happy being in his shadow and would have been much happier making my own decisions. They need to go where they feel the best vibe (hopefully it's UT), but where ever they go it should not anybody's decision but their own.

SevenT writes:

in response to mborokyvol:

Berry needs to get up off of it and get his brothers to come to UT! Can't be a Vol family if he doesn't help keep them in the famly. Come on Eric take one for the team, or how about two!

Berry should tell is brothers "anywhere but Tennessee" Berry had to endure watching his UT Head Coach get fired, followed by Kiffin then Doolost. Good thing he left early for the NFL another. Berry should tell them to go to a stable winning program like Georgia or Florida. Not an unstable train wreck like Tennessee.

Just Saying

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

Berry should tell is brothers "anywhere but Tennessee" Berry had to endure watching his UT Head Coach get fired, followed by Kiffin then Doolost. Good thing he left early for the NFL another. Berry should tell them to go to a stable winning program like Georgia or Florida. Not an unstable train wreck like Tennessee.

Just Saying

Where then, tucky?? Bwahahahahahahaha!!

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to mborokyvol:

Berry needs to get up off of it and get his brothers to come to UT! Can't be a Vol family if he doesn't help keep them in the famly. Come on Eric take one for the team, or how about two!

Put yourself in front of a high pressure sales person and think how you would react. If you knuckle under you'll have other people making decisions for you the rest of your life.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to SevenT:

Berry should tell is brothers "anywhere but Tennessee" Berry had to endure watching his UT Head Coach get fired, followed by Kiffin then Doolost. Good thing he left early for the NFL another. Berry should tell them to go to a stable winning program like Georgia or Florida. Not an unstable train wreck like Tennessee.

Just Saying

Note to seventeen, aka "Brett", aka about seventeen other screen names, the recruits AIN'T LISTENING Bozo. Your feeble attempts to hamper recruiting, and generally give UT a bad name, are falling on deaf ears. Even these KIDS can see through your juvenile rhetoric. UT maintaining a top 5 class, and CBJ continuously receiviing high praise from all directions, trumps your little pathetic agenda. You're just to dim to figure it out.

How does it feel to waste as much as your life as you do on here for nothing? I'm sure as he!! glad I'm not pathetic enough to know the answer to that.

voloffaith writes:

in response to SevenT:

Berry should tell is brothers "anywhere but Tennessee" Berry had to endure watching his UT Head Coach get fired, followed by Kiffin then Doolost. Good thing he left early for the NFL another. Berry should tell them to go to a stable winning program like Georgia or Florida. Not an unstable train wreck like Tennessee.

Just Saying

" Ain't too proud to beg darlin..." beg to differ with fan of kat-man-doo...kankatsy fan telling someone about football is like the president telling someone how to be conservative.........chill I kept the politics to a minimum to make my point to lil 7t......

CoverOrange writes:

in response to SevenT:

Berry should tell is brothers "anywhere but Tennessee" Berry had to endure watching his UT Head Coach get fired, followed by Kiffin then Doolost. Good thing he left early for the NFL another. Berry should tell them to go to a stable winning program like Georgia or Florida. Not an unstable train wreck like Tennessee.

Just Saying

First, Berry didn't play on a Dooley team.
Second, a lot of people thought Richt was done just two seasons ago.
Third, everybody thought Urban had a dynasty in the making after 2008. Two years later he was gone.
Muschamp swept into Gainesville with Charlie Weis and expectations of a high powered offense, a year later, no Weis.

I know you aren't listening to this, but for everyone else remember that things are always changing.

bUTch_please writes:

70 days.

BigBadVol writes:

Please don't respond to sevenT. It just feeds his immaturity. He thinks he's bright and witty. We all know better.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

Please don't respond to sevenT. It just feeds his immaturity. He thinks he's bright and witty. We all know better.

They won't listen. I've told them before to no avail. We know sevenT is borderline insane and it causes me to wonder about those who respond to him.

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