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Insider Mailing: Almost Football Time Edition

Von Pearson-1Von Pearson, what the hell is going on? Did he hide John Gotti’s body?  @jlhill16

Where does Von currently stand with the team and what roles can we expect the Berry boys to play? – Nate Smith

Daniel: We need to make the Pearson question a weekly lock. Nothing new there – still away from the team, and entering almost his third month without being charged or publicly cleared from being a suspect in the investigation of an alleged rape in April. Not a great sign for his immediate return that Butch Jones has mentioned Malik Foreman getting some snaps at WR, but we’ll see, nobody has told us that he definitively won’t be back either.

As for Nate’s question: I think Evan Berry will have a very big role in 2015 – probably not a starter per se, but think he’ll be in some defensive packages and should be the starting kickoff returner as well. I see him starting at safety in 2016 if all goes according to plan. Elliott Berry will probably be mostly a special teams contributor in 2015, with an eye on 2016 and ’17 for more defensive playing time, though he could be in the conversation for some work in nickel and dime situations when they need to get some more speed on the field.

Houston: Man, this one has drug on much longer than I think anyone on The Hill anticipated. Pearson seems to be optimistic – albeit impatient – about his return to the team if his tweets are any indication. There has been some growing optimism within the program that his return was imminent, but the waiting game hasn’t been good for anybody. Not the team, not Pearson, not the alleged victim…etc. This is such a confusing and mysterious situation that absolutely nothing could surprise me at this point.

Evan Berry will be a beast in the return game. He is just such a natural fit there with his vision, speed, explosiveness and cutting ability. We saw it in flashes last year, but teams are going to have to be careful with how they choose to kick to him because he can make you pay. I’ll set the over/under at returns over 50 yards on the season at 7.5. He’ll also get some reps at safety, where he was one of the most improved players during the spring. He truly started to look a bit like #14 (no, not Justin Worley) out there at times. Elliott, in my opinion, will be a special teams tackling machine as he continues to grow and mature into his role at linebacker.

Would you rather attend a Tennessee-Alabama football win in Tuscaloosa or a TN-Kentucky basketball win in Rupp? – Nathan Odom

Houston: Football win in Tuscaloosa, no doubt. That game would mean so much more for the football program than a win over Kentucky would in basketball. There’s also just something about a football road win that is hard to put into words. The “us against the world” mentality and then the awesome release of emotion after a road football victory is unmatched in the world of sports. It makes the drive home that much sweeter, as well.

Kevin: The football win in Tuscaloosa, without question. I was there in 09′ for the Terrence Cody field goal block and promised myself that I would return to see Tennessee win a football game in that stadium. With the current situation in Tuscaloosa and my lifestyle I’m giving myself reasonable odds on still being alive at that point. Regular season games just mean more in football, I’d rather see UT beat UK hoops in a Final Four, but anything else doesn’t have the same impact.

How are the two freshmen D tackles doing? – @WCDT1340

Daniel: I don’t like overhyping guys before I see them on Saturdays, or at least in fall camp, but I think there’s a real chance that Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie both live up to expectations. I liked what I saw from Tuttle in the spring in spurts. He has to get in better shape and show more consistency, but when he was on, he looked like a guy who can contribute from Day 1. Haven’t seen McKenzie play yet, but everything we’ve heard about his has been positive from a strength, conditioning and a work ethic perspective. I think both, at minimum, are rotational players at defensive tackle as freshmen and can grown into All-SEC-type players in the next couple years.

Houston: Tuttle surprised me with how physically ready he was from a strength/size standpoint. The guy is just massive. Getting him here in the spring will prove to be huge for this team, as it gave him an opportunity to learn the scheme and technique from Steve Stripling, who, in my opinion, is a vastly underrated teacher of all things regarding the defensive line.

McKenzie is literally as game-ready as any freshman defensive tackle can be from a physical standpoint, having worked out with the Raiders for the last year. He’s a man-child who will play a lot of football this year. I wan’t to see him in fall camp before I go out on a limb, but I could absolutely see him being a starter sooner rather than later.

With BJ Emmons’ commitment to Bama, what RB would you most want to see be a Vol? – Brett Allen Bassham

Daniel: Kareem Walker is at the top of my evaluation list, though UT needs to get him on campus at least once to be considered serious contenders. If not him, then Eli Holyfield, though, if I had to guess, I think UT might be third behind Georgia and Auburn in that one at this point. I’m beginning to wonder a little bit if they’re going to be able to sign a top-flight guy in this class, still a lot of time though. Tavien Feaster and Carlin Fils-Aime are a couple other names to keep an eye on.

Houston:  From a talent standpoint it’s Kareem Walker, but I just don’t know if the New Jersey connection with Jarrett Guarantano is going to be enough to overcome the long-standing relationship/commitment with Ohio State. Holyfield is in there too, but like Daniel said, the Vols are trailing a couple schools at this point.

What’s a movie that is generally loved by the public but that you hate? – Doug Brooks

Kevin: Remember the Titans. The film that somehow turned two very serious things, integration in southern school and football, into a Disney musical. Denzel was great, and there were a few powerful scenes but the football played in the movie is awful if you line it up next to Friday Night Lights. When we hit  a point where a defensive coordinator is having to honestly figure out whether to start Donald Faison or Ryan Gosling in his secondary unit, I’m out.  

Why doesn’t UT host a bowl game? – Joey Hampton

Daniel: It doesn’t strike me as an ideal place, but I’d rather go to Knoxville than Montgomery, Birmingham, Shreveport and possibly other current bowl sites. Yes, it’d likely be cold, but that can be true for pretty much any bowl not held in a more tropical area (Music City, Liberty, Pinstripe, Famous Idaho Potato, Pinstripe, Belk, etc.). No, it’s not a huge city, but the same can be said of Montgomery, Mobile and Shreveport. And no, Knoxville itself isn’t a major tourist destination, but with the mountains and Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg/Sevierville so close, that could be a draw. The stadium is obviously in place, I feel like it’s a city that appreciates college football overall and I don’t think it’s an awful idea. Don’t see it happening soon, if ever, but don’t want to dismiss it either.

Houston: The stadium is too big for the type of bowl games they could attract, in my opinion. And while I love Knoxville and east Tennessee, late-December and early-January aren’t exactly prime times to go hiking through the mountains, tubing down a river or boating on a lake.

Kevin: It’s a great question, and my guess is that is has something to do with that pesky entertainment tax that Dave Hart keeps trying to get rid of. Knoxville would certainly be a lower tier bowl destination, similar to Shreveport or Birmingham, but colder. If Knoxville were smart it would pitch the Smoky’s and Gatlinburg as nearby tourism opportunities, and try to land a bowl. Bored people in Knoxville would wander over to a game between Cincinnati and N.C. State, if for nothing else to tailgate. Neyland Stadium has a tendency to make a crowd of 60,000 look pretty grim, which might also be a detractor.

Has the “real UT” debate ever been settled in Insider Mailing? –  Carter Lawrence

Daniel: This is so contentious because both Tennesseans and Texans are both very prideful. But it is Tennessee. You can’t just come in almost 100 years later and claim that you’re the real or original something. I’m fine with Texans referring to the University of Texas as UT among themselves, but, honestly, they have to concede on being the “real” one.

Houston: I got into it with a Texas friend a few years ago and did some research on the subject. Here were my findings:

“The University of Tennessee was founded in 1794.

Texas entered into statehood in 1845.

The University of Texas (Austin) was founded in 1883.

As you can see, The University of Tennessee existed for 51 years before Texas was a state, and 89 years before the University of Texas even existed. So…unless you are attending the University of Tennessee, you ARE NOT attending the “Real UT”.

p.s. Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State. Why? Because of the thousands of Tennesseans that volunteered to fight against the Mexicans in what is now Texas so that what was then Mexico could become the state you live in today.”

Kevin: History is on our side Carter, but the fact of the matter is that both schools are UT. I spent a summer in Texas, and trolled those people to the max. They get furious when anyone insinuates that their precious state isn’t the right hand to God. For that reason, I am glad this argument exists.

Ford or Chevy? – Treigh Patterson

Houston: American.

Kevin: If i’m not mistaken, every single member of RTI drives either a Ford or Chevy. We love American muscle and Toby Keith probably wants to write a song about us. I drive an 06′ Ford Explorer, God Bless America.

Daniel: Tell Toby to stand down, I drive a Toyota, though my first vehicle was a Ford.

“Is there a worse ownership group in NFL history than the Titans? Jim Irsay is a crack head and we can’t even beat his team.” – @HippieH8er

Daniel: Bud wasn’t an awful owner overall, but it’s been a pretty massive mess since his very late days and after his death. There’s no clear face of the organization from a leadership/ownership perspective and no clear direction right now. I’ve been hopeful that the Adams’ family trust family would sell, and think they may eventually once they fully realize that they can get over a billion for the franchise. I’m not even remotely worried about the Colts right now – have to start beating teams like the Jaguars with consistency before anything else.

What’s the best single seat in Neyland Stadium? – @itsmasonbrown

Houston: First row of the Tennessee Terrace, IMO. You are outside with the fans, but have quick access to food and drink. What more could you possibly want?

Kevin: I like the seats towards the bottom of the top level (if that makes sense) on the 50 yard line, it’s a great view of the game. Typically if I can avoid fans of other teams or tremendously intoxicated individuals I’m happy wherever.

Overrated or underrated?: UGA playing Bama 1 week before UT and also UT having an open date AND Bama @ aTm before BAMA-UT. – Mike Fenner

Houston: Underrated. SEC teams are something like 1-15 over the last two years after playing Alabama. (That is not the exact stat, but you get the point.) This bodes well for the Vols against UGA.

And Tennessee catches Alabama in their eighth straight game to start the season…That coupled ith a bye week for the Vols is a HUGE advantage.

Daniel: Georgia playing Bama a week before Tennessee is overrated. The Vols have Arkansas the week before that game and the Razorbacks will be equally, if not more, physical than Alabama this year. Probably underrated that Alabama has not only A&M, but Arkansas and Georgia the previous weeks before Tennessee with no bye, while the Vols will be coming off a bye before heading to Tuscaloosa.

Who would win a dance off between Seth Stokes and Houston Kress? – @QDawgVolsFan

Daniel: I haven’t scouted the competition yet, but Houston has some good moves behind the mic, so he’s my early favorite. We might have to make this happen on Periscope.

Houston: Kevin is wrong. Daniel is right.

Kevin: There’s not enough liquor in the state of Tennessee to persuade Houston Kress into a public dance-off, so I’ll go with Stokes.

Who’s better? LeBron or MJ?  – Bronson Warren

Houston: Better is a vague term….Michael Jordan.

Kevin: Tim Duncan

Daniel: LeBron is a once-in-a-generation talent, but MJ is still the GOAT.

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