By Frank Gale
I can’t believe the Orange-White Game has arrived already. Tomorrow, Neyland Stadium will be the site for what has been an annual rite of spring for the Vol Nation. Fans will get their first glimpse of the new coaching staff and the players that will give their all for Tennessee in the fall.
The day will start officially at 11:30 a.m. when fans can enter Neyland Stadium through Gate 7 at 11 a.m. for Fan Appreciation Day on the field. The coaches and Vol players will be available for an autograph session from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Lines will start forming at 7 a.m. for admission.
For those fans that are just attending, the game the gates will open at 12:30 p.m. All times are EDT.
The actual game format will be one that we have seen before when depth issues prevented drafting opposing teams.
The offense will go against the defense with a predetermined method of scoring points. My advice, enjoy watching next year’s potential playmakers on both sides of the ball display their talents.
Alden Hill will be moving up the depth chart as running back with Marlin Lane’s future with the team in question. Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman also have one last time this spring to impress and move closer to the starting quarterback job.
With a revamped receiving corps, the offense will most likely be a work in progress going into the fall.
The defense is where most fans want to see improvement. That shouldn’t be real hard given last year’s debacle on that side of the ball. This year the defense will go back to the more conventional 4-3 alignment and be more aggressive. That will be more than a welcome change.
By all accounts, Coach Jones has started building the football program back in all the right ways. His staff is committed; he has embraced former players and is off to a great start in recruiting for the 2014 class.
Brick by Brick is what Coach Jones has named the process to returning the Vols to their former status in the SEC and nationally. This could be a long and sometimes painful process, but at least in the early stages, there is reason throughout Big Orange Country for optimism.
Speaking of painful, Vandy’s football coach, James Franklin, was named the Tennessean of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. For Vol fans this is a hard one to swallow.
Only about 228 days until Coach Jones’ Vols put an end to Franklin’s one-game winning streak over UT and in the process end Jim Butler’s year of celebration.
Speaking of my fellow columnist, I guess we would have heard a lot from him this week if a certain former Commodore golfer had won the Masters.
Coach Cuonzo Martin added some more depth with a commitment from JuCo center Rawane Ndiaye. He is the fifth commitment for Martin, who only had three scholarships to give this year. Stay tuned. There is obviously more to come.
Tomorrow is all about Team 117. Free parking and admission, plus a beautiful spring day all add up to a large crowd for the Orange-White Game. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and besides, it will be the last time to hear "Rocky Top" live at Neyland until the end of August. Go Vols!
(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)