Randy Smith: Are Vols Really That Soft?

Friday, August 11, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

According to a report by Mike Griffith on SEC Country this week, an anonymous NFL scout said that Tennessee's upper-classmen, the ones who will be draft eligible next spring, are "soft." That's quite an observation and it's obvious why that particular NFL scout wants to remain anonymous. Calling college football players "soft" is perhaps the worst thing you could say about them. It's hard to believe any Division One player at any school could be "soft" especially the way they train these days. Year around workouts, always under direct supervision by specialized trainers and strength coaches make it virtually impossible to have a player who is not in really good physical condition.

There are other ways to describe soft when you're talking about college football.

Perhaps lack of toughness would be better in describing these players, which include a couple of Tennessee offensive linemen. If the comments from the NFL scout aren't enough to make Vols' fans a bit uneasy as the season is almost here, take a look at the All-SEC pre-season teams. No Tennessee player is listed as a first or second team selection. 

It's hard to believe that the Vols are tabbed to finish third in the SEC East with no real stars. However, there are several players who could develop into top echelon SEC stand outs. One is wide receiver JuJuan Jennings. Running back John Kelly has that potential as does quarterback Quinton Dormady. The Volunteers have recruited very well under Butch Jones and even though they are not represented on the pre-season  all-star teams, they have as much talent as any team in the SEC, not coached by Nick Saban. 

There are so many question marks regarding this Tennessee football team, they may not all be answered between now and the end of the season. Some of the same college football writers who chose to name the pre-season glitter squads without Tennessee representation have also written that unless Coach Jones puts up nine or ten wins, he'll be asked to leave Rocky Top. I have written before, I don't believe that theory for one minute. Overall, the Ternnessee program is in better shape now than it's been in for more than a decade. The only thing missing is an SEC East title. You know, the one they were supposed to win last year and the one they could have won in 2015. Maybe the reason the Vols fell short is they were "soft." Even mentally soft or a mental lack of toughness led to those losses last year to Vandy and South Carolina; losses that cost them that title they were picked to win a year ago. 
 
So, there may be something to this "soft" accusation. It could be more than just out of shape or under achieving players. It could be a culture within the Vols' program. If that is truly the case, Coach Jones could very well be gone at the end of this campaign. I prefer to believe it's a combination of youth, inexperience, multiple injuries and just plain bad luck. Calling some of the players "soft" is a bit of a stretch however. If I were Butch Jones, I would post that article all over Big Orange country. I would use it as motivation to encourage my players to never give any scout or writer any reason to call them soft ever again. I would have that article in the back of my mind each time I hit the practice field or playing field. Being soft should be totally unacceptable for any young man who wears the orange jersey. 

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.

He can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com



#6 Roadrunners Fall To #9 Running Eagles

In a battle of top ranked teams, #6 Dalton State fell to #9 Life (Ga.) 72-71 in overtime at the Eagles Nest in Marietta, Ga.  on Tuesday  night. It would be a back and forth battle early with both teams trading the lead. The Roadrunners would take command at the  15:31  mark on a three from  Deshawn Ruffin  to go up 11-10. Dalton ... (click for more)

Lee Men Win 90-78 At Tusculum

The Lee University men’s basketball passed its first road test of the season with a 90-78 defeat of Tusculum College. It was the Flames’ second win over the Pioneers in seven days. Lee beat Tusculum 83-67 in Cleveland on Nov. 15. The Flames (4-0) trailed Tusculum (1-4) 37-36 after the opening 20 minutes before outscoring their hosts 54-41 in the second half to secure the victory. ... (click for more)

City Council Votes On 1st Reading To Lower Rain Retention Requirement In South Chickamauga Creek Basin

The City Council on Tuesday voted to lower the requirement for rainwater retention in the South Chickamauga Creek basin. The move from holding the first 1.6 inches to one inch had been requested by the Home Builders Association and the Berke administration. Sandy Kurtz, longtime leader of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance, said the resolution was "not yet ready ... (click for more)

Former Pilot Regional Account Specialist Says Former President Mark Hazelwood Approved Of Fraud

When well-known attorney Rusty Hardin on Tuesday asked a former Pilot regional account specialist if she believed that former president Mark Hazelwood knew of a plan to cheat trucking firms he didn't get the answer he expected. Holly Radford told a jury in Chattanooga, "I know he had knowledge of the rebate schemes that were going on. "I had conversations with him about it ... (click for more)

Thankful For Tennessee

While Christmas reigns supreme as a holiday marking the birth of our Lord, I have always felt a special connection with Thanksgiving. These days Christmas unfortunately includes ubiquitous commercialism which can distract us from the true meaning of the day. Thanksgiving stands apart from all that. This day gives us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our many blessings.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t know who was the first to do the Famous Pregnant Turkey prank but I’ll bet you a handful of giblets there will be a lot of copycats who try it today. The trick is finding a Cornish hen that is small enough to stuff inside the larger turkey. Then you skillfully pack the bird with some of that sausage-sage dressing and put your Thanksgiving dinner in the oven. When all ... (click for more)