Henry To’o To’o was one of three Vols to speak with the media on Tuesday afternoon. Eric Gray and Brandon Kennedy joined the second-year linebacker, and there wasn’t a lot of nervousness from the group.
Brandon Kennedy spoke about his relationship with quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and the expectations for the offensive line.
“Me and Jarrett have a great relationship. Were always trying to watch film, especially in the off-season, and trying to get better. “Our expectations for the first game is to be physical upfront.”
Brandon Kennedy knows this offensive line unit can build off something special, with players returning and potentially Cade Mays.
“I think we’ve been really good at building chemistry. It has allowed us to get different guys at different positions this year, so I think it’s been great. Our expectations going into the first game is we want to be physical upfront, and make a name for ourselves with our physicality, so that’s what we pride ourselves on with the offensive line.”
Kennedy was also asked why he thinks this group has such good chemistry. ” Think we have better chemistry now because throughout this whole fall camp we’ve relied on some guys that may not usually get certain opportunities. They’ve been able to learn and grow and also some of the young guys have been able to get more opportunities. This whole pandemic has allowed them to come along, and we feel great going into the first game at who we will have out there.”
Kennedy knows how good this offensive line can be, now it will be about putting it all together Saturday night.
Henry To’o To’o knows how much the freshmen have put into practice and knowing the playbook.
“Our entire freshman group has done a tremendous job and guys like Morven Joseph and Tyler Baron on the defensive side have been doing a (great) job of getting the playbook down. They try to come to me, try to ask me for advice, asking me how I adapted and how did I do things when I got here. I just told them to work hard. Those guys, every single person on the offensive side and defensive side is doing a great job of coming in, putting in the work, focusing on the playbook, and trying to hone in on knowing what we are going to do this week. Those guys are going to contribute big this week.”
Henry also realizes that this football team has to be prepared to come out Saturday night on fire. They cannot afford to have a massive setback that happened to open the 2019 season.
“Yes, we know, as an entire team, we know what to expect and how good we can be. When we play to our full potential, we can do great things on the field. Things will change and it’s up to us. The coaches lay out a game plan for us to execute and it’s up to us now.”
Having barbecue’s with Quavaris Crouch and Jeremy Banks seems to have built up a strong relationship between the three linebackers, something Henry isn’t taking for granted.
“We have a close, tight-knit relationship. Those are my brothers right there, those two. It’s not only just those two, but it’s guys like Aaron Beasley, Solon Page (III), Martavius French, we’ve all done a great job of coming together as one. We held barbecues. We had our mask on and everything, but we had a barbecue. Every Sunday we had it and we shared Scripture verses and talking about the Heavenly Father’s plan for us. That relationship is going to take us a long way. I feel that we’re tight. We’re close. As long as we’re one, we’ll be able to excel on the field.”
To’o To’o said he was ready to go up against someone else, hitting your teammates every day has gotten old I imagine, so Henry didn’t mince words.
“I’m ready. I’m ready. I’m not going to lie. I’m ready to hit somebody that’s not wearing orange. It’s going to be fun.”
Eric Gray knows he has to start faster this season and sounds prepared for it.
“I would say last season, for me, it was just getting to learn how to be a college back. It took me a couple of games (to learn) how to be a college back, get a feel for the offense, get a feel for playing in the SEC. I feel like I had to get a feel for that at first. Now that I feel like I have that experience, I definitely feel like I’m going to start fast.”
Gray is ready to run behind this highly touted offensive line, giving high praise to the group today.
“That group has really shown me a lot throughout camp they are a great group. They learn fast and we have so much depth in that group. Those guys are really playing hard at practice. You can see at practice everyone is going hard and everyone’s ready, and I’m excited to get to run behind them on Saturday.”
This is lining up to be a very big year for Chandler and Gray, time will tell just how big.
Continue following FOX Sports Knoxville for coverage of the 2020 season.
Images courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications