After Meeting Jones, New UT Coach, Bears' Sanders Sure Of His Commitment

Monday, December 17, 2012 - by Larry Fleming

On Dec. 7, Bradley Central’s Austin Sanders, the TSSAA Class 3A Mr. Football Offensive Lineman of the Year, spoke briefly on the phone with Butch Jones only hours after he was introduced as Tennessee’s new football coach.

This past weekend Sanders, a 6-foot-6-inch, 300-pound senior tackle, and several other players got to meet Jones in a 2 ½-hour dinner gathering in the press box at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

“The whole coaching staff was there,” Sanders said Monday. “They’re all really nice and really glad to be at Tennessee.”

Sanders committed to Tennessee prior to his junior season at Bradley Central and never wavered in his decision to play for the Vols, even when Derek Dooley was fired on Nov. 18.

Jones and his assistants – defensive coordinator John Jancek, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, Mark Elder (tight ends), Don Mahoney (offensive line), Steve Stripling (defensive line), Jay Graham (running backs), Willie Martinez (safeties), Tommy Thigpen (corner backs) and Zach Azzanni (receivers) – used Saturday’s event to meet invited players and their relatives and friends.

Sanders took full advantage of the opportunity.

“My parents (Jennifer Baker and Mark Sanders), stepmom (Diane Sanders), girlfriend (Lauren Lawson) and her mother (Stephanie Culberson) went with me,” Sanders said. “They had the same thoughts I had – they were excited to be up there and finally meet coach Jones. There was nothing negative at all about the meeting. We had a good time and it turned out really good.

“My parents were more excited than I was. They really enjoyed it all.”

Sanders also said the players committed to the Vols at the meet-and-greet were also enthused about Jones and his new staff.

Sanders left Knoxville reassured about his intentions to play at Tennessee.

“I’m for sure really excited to get up there,” he said. “I’ll be going up there in late June or early July.”

Sanders’ earlier phone conversation, which lasted 5 or 6 minutes, came on Friday night after Jones was announced as the Vols’ 24th head coach earlier in the day in the Peyton Manning Locker Room at Neyland Stadium.

On the following day, Sanders was in Cookeville, Tenn., at 6 a.m. to take the college entrance ACT and then played for the East in the East-West All-Star game at Tennessee Tech University. The East won, 41-20.

“I didn’t get much out of the phone call with coach Jones,” Sanders said. “Saturday was a fun day. I didn’t ask him any questions, really. We just chit-chatted and I listened a lot to what he had to say. He said he was really excited to get started.”

Sanders twice previously scored 17 on the ACT and will get the results of his latest test in a few weeks.

“If I get an 18 on this one I’ll probably take it one more time,” he said.

Sanders will sign with the Vols on Feb. 6, National Signing Day.

A couple of players have de-committed from the Vols since Dooley’s ouster.

“Honestly, I don’t have much to say about that,” Sanders said. “If you don’t want to play for Tennessee, then don’t. It’s kind of sad, really.”

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 

 

 


Lookouts Playoff Hopes Dim With 6-3 Loss Wednesday To Mississippi

The Chattanooga Lookouts dropped their regular season home finale to the Mississippi Braves, 6-2, Wednesday afternoon. Chattanooga is now 3 1/2 games back of the Montgomery Biscuits for the top spot in the North Division with five games left to play. The loss was the Lookouts 64th of the season and the team finishes the regular season with a home record of 39-31. The M-Braves ... (click for more)

Lee Cross-Country Team Ranked 24th In National Poll

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its preseason poll and for the first time in the program’s history the Lee University men’s cross country team was ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA Division II poll. The Flames collected 21 points to land at the No. 24 spot after finishing the 2015 season at 26th. Defending champion Colorado ... (click for more)

Avocet Hospitality Group Acquires The Read House; Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation Planned For The Historic Chattanooga Property

Historic Read House Associates, LLC, a subsidiary of Avocet Hospitality Group (AHG), on Wednesday announced the acquisition of The Read House in downtown Chattanooga. The seller, Read House Investors, LP , has owned the property since 1994 and entered a sale agreement with AHG in May. Hodges Ward Elliott represented and advised the seller in the transaction. The 242-room ... (click for more)

Judge Says Dyer, Brennan Can Obtain Loans From Friends And Families After Affidavits Are Filed

Federal Judge Travis McDonough ruled Wednesday that two Chattanooga men who were charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding a large number of investors can obtain loans from friends and family to pay attorneys and for living expenses. However, he said details of the loans must be spelled out in affidavits that he and the SEC must approve. The loans to Doug ... (click for more)

Colin Kaepernick Is The Epitome Of American Patriotism - And Response (2)

As the mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, and former wife of present active duty and veterans several times over, it isn't the patriotism of NFL player Colin Kaepernick I question, but the patriotism of those who are attacking him. Kaepernick is the epitome of all things this country is suppose to stand for and challenge. If he's attacked for taking a stand then everything this ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My September Garden

I am told it takes a mighty oak tree somewhere between 20 and 35 years before it produces acorns, this based on the species of the oak. But as I walk through my September Garden in my monthly custom, I do indeed believe that a mature oak can rain down as many as 90,000 acorns a year. I’ve already got enough for every squirrel between here and the Mississippi River. My friends ... (click for more)