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Talking Points: Players now entrusted with the Tennessee football program

The players are now in charge of the football program, with only some modest supervision. Here are their plans.


With the hay in the barn, so to speak, the Tennessee Football program is now in the hands of the players for the summer. This must always be the most ulcer-inducing period for head coaches, but UT's Butch Jones has done all that he can to set the thing spinning in the right direction before the rules banish him to supervise from the nosebleeds. He beat the Leadership drum into the earholes of his players all spring. He had his team elect a 14-man "player staff" for the summer. He asked them to make a list of three goals, and they turned out to be fairly good ones: (1) Become a tougher team; (2) Build chemistry; and (3) Every individual takes personal responsibility for his own improvement.

The NCAA does allow Jones a carrier pigeon of sorts in the form of strength and conditioning coach Dave Lawson, who's the surrogate of all things during the summer. Lawson, no doubt armed with instructions from Jones, is all over the players, harping on guys like Ja'Wuan James to become the leaders they need to be for the team.

Jones, of course, doesn't just sleep in the sun all summer. He's out selling the Tennessee program, assembling what is currently the SEC's (2nd -- oops!) best recruiting class and 247's biggest surprise of the recruiting season. Part of that success is no doubt due to Jones' leveraging of his numbers advantage: According to GVX, Tennessee apparently has up to 30 scholarships to offer this season, thanks to the ability to backcount 5 of them for early enrollees due to a small class last year.

Etceteras. GVX has a great feature on former Vol Michael Cofer and his battle with amyloidosis. . . . Tennessee has released Travon Landry from his basketball letter of intent. . . . 3-star shooting guard Jordan Cornish has committed to the basketball team for the 2014 season. . . . Mark Pancratz and Marco Harris are the in-house candidates for the position of director of basketball operations. . . . There is still discussion and support for a 9-game conference schedule in football.