1998 Vol Championship Celebration Starts 22 Minutes Before Kick For Florida Game
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Fans are encouraged to arrive early for Tennessee's game against Florida on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Neyland Stadium as members of the 1998 National Championship team will be honored as "Legends of the Game" approximately 22 minutes before kickoff.
Tennessee is honoring the 1998 team all weekend on the 20th anniversary of its historic undefeated season.
In addition to pregame recognition for several players, the entire 1998 team and staff will be recognized on the field at the end of the first quarter.
Vols Excited to Play Gators
Tennessee welcomes Florida to Neyland Stadium for the 48th meeting all-time between the SEC East Division rivals.
The Gators' last trip to Shield-Watkins Field ended with the Vols erasing a 21-0 deficit en route to an exciting 38-28 victory in 2016.
Florida answered back last season, however, defeating the Vols, 26-20, on a Hail Mary touchdown with no time remaining.
The last four games in the series have come down to the final minutes.
"It means a lot," redshirt junior linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. said. "It has been a long rivalry. It has been here long before I got here, longer than our whole team has been here. Looking forward to this rivalry is fun, especially for our fans. We are looking forward to a big, electric game on Saturday."
The Tennessee-Florida rivalry often times decided the SEC East Division champions and typically had national championship implications throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
For players who didn't grow up in the Volunteer State or Sunshine State, the game still resonates as a premier national rivalry between two of college football's brand-name schools.
Junior tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson said he remembers watching the game on Saturdays in California.
"This is a huge game," Wood-Anderson said. "Not just for us, but for the fan base as well. We are all amped up. Not just because it is Florida, but because it is the first SEC game at home. Our fans will get to watch us go to battle."
While neither team is ranked in the Top 25 heading into Saturday's clash, the game still holds great significance as both teams enter with a 2-1 mark. The Vols want to jump out to great start in SEC play in their conference opener under first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Pruitt, who grew up deep in SEC Country in Rainsville, Ala., knows the rivalry well. He said playing in games of this magnitude is a major part of the reason he took the Tennessee job.
"When I was growing up, it was always the first big SEC game of the year," Pruitt said. "I always loved to watch it – always a lot of passion with both fan bases, a lot of tradition. I'm thankful to have the chance to be a part of it."