If you haven’t noticed, the national media doesn’t have high hopes for the Vols for the 2017 season. The media at SEC Media Days voted the Vols to finish closer to fourth and fifth place than second place in the SEC East, and no Vols were voted to the All-SEC First-Team along with no Vol defenders being voted to any of the All-SEC teams.
Not only that, but head coach Butch Jones has been a lightning rod for the media this offseason. Jones has appeared on just about every coaching hot seat list, and some analysts have even said Jones will be let go by the end of the 2017 season.
But Jones’ players are saying they aren’t listening to the negative reactions from the media.
During media availability on Thursday afternoon, junior offensive lineman Jack Jones and senior tight end Ethan Wolf both claimed they haven’t been paying attention to the negativity surrounding the team and their coach.
“We don’t pay attention to all that, we just come in here and work hard every day,” Jones said. “We got a lot of guys who have been grinding in this program for a couple years now, and it’s their year to kind of come out. I think it’s been a really, really great offseason in the approach that we’ve had all offseason of just coming in here and working every day because that’s really all you can do.
“You can’t worry about this and that.”
For Wolf, the hype of last season and the negativity of this season are both irrelevant in his eyes.
“We don’t really look into the preseason hype and stuff like that,” Wolf stated. “We hear about it, but truthfully who’s to say that we were the 7th, 8th, 9th team in the country last year as opposed to whatever we are right now before we’ve played a game. I don’t even know. I just look at it as kind of irrelevant and go out and play my game.
“Of course, we don’t like hearing negative things about our team, but we’re going to come out and play as hard as we possibly can come Week 1, and we’ll go from there.”
Some football analysts voted the Vols to finish fourth in the SEC East behind South Carolina or Kentucky at SEC Media Days. One writer even picked the Vols to finish sixth in the division, only finishing ahead of Vanderbilt. The perception around the Vols is much more negative this season than it was this time last year.
Last year at this time, the Vols were picked as favorites at SEC Media Days to win the SEC East. Tennessee had nine players on the All-SEC teams, and Butch Jones was viewed as a coach with a potentially solid future.
My, how things can change in a year.
But according to two of the older players on Tennessee’s roster, the Vols aren’t paying attention to what the media is saying about their team this year. They just want to get out on the field and take matters into their own hands.