Butch Jones at the Big Orange Tipoff Club
Tennessee football coach Butch Jones thought he had a good handle on the distractions facing his players until a guest speaker this week pointed out that many college students shower with their cellphones.
Jones, himself permanently attached to a cellphone, found it “mind boggling.”
The speaker, leadership guru Tim Elmore, told players to view life as a river, confined by banks and flowing in one direction.
“So many of our players don’t have a river; they have a flood,” Jones said Wednesday during an appearance at the Big Orange Tipoff Club at Calhoun’s on the River.
Tennessee will open its second spring season under Jones on March 7, but much of the offseason transformation has already taken place.
Players have spent the last two months in the weight room and more recently on the practice field in “standards” workouts.
Jones, unhappy about one workout a few days ago, said he declared a “sudden change” — one of his favorite tactics — and then instituted an overtime period for the session.
“Then when that was done we had a double overtime,” Jones said.
Jones also mentioned the gains in the weight room he has touted several times in recent media appearances. The number of players able to squat 600 pounds? Up from zero to nine players in the last year.
He also said the influx of newcomers this spring and summer will provide a boost for the team’s overall speed, which he deemed “below, below average” in 2013.
In response to questions from the audience, Jones identified two returning redshirt players who had stood out to him during the offseason.
Jones called junior linebacker Curt Maggitt “hands down, the heart and soul of our football team.”
Jones also praised redshirt freshman defensive end Kendal Vickers and said the Vols need him to have a big spring.
As for redshirt freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson, “he’s still frail and skinny, but he’s done a good job of putting weight on,” Jones said.
Asked about the nine current players who were arrested or cited after authorities broke up a loud party earlier this month, Jones defended the “character” of his team but said in this case young people made “poor choices.”
He said discipline would be handled internally but it would be “swift and fair.”
Jones emphasized that he wanted to continue to have a “good working relationship” with local law enforcement agencies.
“I grew up in the house of the police chief,” Jones said. “My dad was my hero and I wanted to be a police officer.”
On the recruiting front, Jones said the Vols would probably sign 18-22 players in the 2015 class, far less than the 32 announced in February.
“But that’s always in flux,” Jones said.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.