The hype leading up to the season is reaching Code Orange status for Vol Nation, as some are predicting Tennessee to capture the East Division title this season. Whether that's realistic or not, you'd be hard pressed to find a knowledgeable college football fan that doesn't see the progress being made in Knoxville, as the team looks poised to continue their march up the SEC ranks.
One thing that could halt the momentum for Tennessee? Lack of effort, especially when everyone and their mother is telling you how great you are. Considering Butch Jones continues to preach not only being a year more experienced but being a year better, the news of freshman Joc Bruce's suspension, first reported by Jimmy Hyams, while surprising should be seen as a positive:
UT's Joc Bruce suspended from team activities for not applying self off the field, 2 sources said. Bruce is from South Doyle— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) July 21, 2015
Butch won't let this team fall into the same trap the 2012 team fell into after a tough loss and never recovered from. No, because Butch is building something significantly stronger than his predecessor and knows that lofty recruiting rankings and pats on the back won't be enough to bring a championship back to Tennessee. Only through the work and dedication the players are able to push themselves through in the summer months when all the coaches aren't there observing or motivating them will the Vols rise for good.
The news is most surprising because Bruce is a local kid that even blueshirted in order to make room on the Vols latest recruiting class for another player. The action(s) that got him suspended must have been pretty bad, but it's better all the players know the line now before fall camp begins and can perform up to the expectations of the coaching staff, on and off the field.
So while the news may seem bad in the moment, the action taken by the team should only result in positive results down the line. If Bruce can correct his actions in a timely manner, he may even return for fall camp. He certainly displayed the type of passion the coaching staff wants on this play, it's just a matter of if he can find himself to bring it on a more consistently basis during his college career: