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Tennessee players react to the hiring of Josh Heupel

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Chattanooga at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now the work begins for new Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel. The rebuild in Knoxville won’t be easy, and the program still has some unknowns lingering out there following the recruiting investigation.

With several players still in the transfer portal, the work begins on pitching those guys to return to school. For the players left on this roster, the learning of a new system and culture begins today.

The reception of Heupel by the players was extremely positive by those that addressed it, much different than the reception from VolTwitter. Remember, Danny White interviewed these guys last week and asked them for specific traits that they’d like to see in their next coach. White mentioned that meeting again today, saying that several of the players mentioned a different offensive direction. That was reflected in some of the comments from the former players today.

Kaidon Salter, now Tennessee’s highest remaining commitment in the class of 2021, voiced his support for the hire. Heupel has plenty of examples of helping to develop top-flight college football quarterbacks.

Alontae Taylor, one of those now veteran voices, says Heupel is “what we needed.”

Quarterback Hendon Hooker, who will be battling for the starting spot this spring in Knoxville, also approves. His fit in Heupel’s system offers a direct contrast to Harrison Bailey.

And here’s your response from Bailey.

All attention now turns to Heupel’s coordinator hires. Will he keep Kevin Steele? Can he lure Jeff Lebby away from Lane Kiffin? Jeremy Pruitt was certainly green-lighted to spend a ton of money on his assistants, now let’s see what Heupel’s next move it.