Tony Vitello is not lacking for passion or energy. It might just be on display this weekend. The Vols’ sixth-year baseball coach is ready for the Florida Gators and this week’s top 20 football matchup.
Joining SEC This Morning, Vitello showcased his excitement for Saturday’s matchup in the way only he can.
“The moment I wake up my No. 1 goal this weekend is to not get arrested or do something crazy because I’ll be fired up just like all the students and all the fans will be,” Vitello said.
Vitello is never short on energy. Third base umpire Tony Macias ejected Vitello from the Vols’ series opening loss against Alabama this season.
That passion isn’t just on display when Vitello’s baseball team in on the field. Vitello sat court side at Tennessee basketball’s win over Auburn last February and trash talked Auburn star — and future No. 3 overall pick — Jabari Smith during the game.
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The Florida game is more than just an opportunity for Vitello to cheer on his football counterparts, but an opportunity for him to recruit.
“We’re taking full advantage of the environment that will take place inside that stadium,” Vitello said.
That includes campus and facility tours, team meals with recruits and even recruits watching Tennessee and Florida warm up from the sidelines.
The Florida game provides a fantastic atmosphere and buzz for non regional recruits to experience the importance of athletics on a SEC campus.
“It’s been insane on campus all weekend,” Vitello said. “I’ve been telling my friends, recruits, anyone who I bump into because it’s a conversation starter. It’s been unique. The chatter around campus — obviously it’s online with social media and what not — but in person as well. The vibe in the air has been phenomenal.”
Tennessee has been extremely successful against Florida since Tony Vitello took over as coach. The Gators were one of the top programs in the country when Vitello took over but Tennessee has won 10 of 14 meetings in the rivalry since.
Vitello and his team begin fall practice later this month but first, Tennessee and Florida kick off from Neyland Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday.