Randy Smith: Are Vols Really That Soft?

Friday, August 11, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

According to a report by Mike Griffith on SEC Country this week, an anonymous NFL scout said that Tennessee's upper-classmen, the ones who will be draft eligible next spring, are "soft." That's quite an observation and it's obvious why that particular NFL scout wants to remain anonymous. Calling college football players "soft" is perhaps the worst thing you could say about them. It's hard to believe any Division One player at any school could be "soft" especially the way they train these days. Year around workouts, always under direct supervision by specialized trainers and strength coaches make it virtually impossible to have a player who is not in really good physical condition.

There are other ways to describe soft when you're talking about college football.

Perhaps lack of toughness would be better in describing these players, which include a couple of Tennessee offensive linemen. If the comments from the NFL scout aren't enough to make Vols' fans a bit uneasy as the season is almost here, take a look at the All-SEC pre-season teams. No Tennessee player is listed as a first or second team selection. 

It's hard to believe that the Vols are tabbed to finish third in the SEC East with no real stars. However, there are several players who could develop into top echelon SEC stand outs. One is wide receiver JuJuan Jennings. Running back John Kelly has that potential as does quarterback Quinton Dormady. The Volunteers have recruited very well under Butch Jones and even though they are not represented on the pre-season  all-star teams, they have as much talent as any team in the SEC, not coached by Nick Saban. 

There are so many question marks regarding this Tennessee football team, they may not all be answered between now and the end of the season. Some of the same college football writers who chose to name the pre-season glitter squads without Tennessee representation have also written that unless Coach Jones puts up nine or ten wins, he'll be asked to leave Rocky Top. I have written before, I don't believe that theory for one minute. Overall, the Ternnessee program is in better shape now than it's been in for more than a decade. The only thing missing is an SEC East title. You know, the one they were supposed to win last year and the one they could have won in 2015. Maybe the reason the Vols fell short is they were "soft." Even mentally soft or a mental lack of toughness led to those losses last year to Vandy and South Carolina; losses that cost them that title they were picked to win a year ago. 
 
So, there may be something to this "soft" accusation. It could be more than just out of shape or under achieving players. It could be a culture within the Vols' program. If that is truly the case, Coach Jones could very well be gone at the end of this campaign. I prefer to believe it's a combination of youth, inexperience, multiple injuries and just plain bad luck. Calling some of the players "soft" is a bit of a stretch however. If I were Butch Jones, I would post that article all over Big Orange country. I would use it as motivation to encourage my players to never give any scout or writer any reason to call them soft ever again. I would have that article in the back of my mind each time I hit the practice field or playing field. Being soft should be totally unacceptable for any young man who wears the orange jersey. 

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.

He can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com



Moc Hoopsters Fall At Tennessee Tech 82-76

Makinde London’s 21 points led four in double figures in the Chattanooga Mocs 82-76 loss at Tennessee Tech Sunday afternoon. The loss dropped the Mocs to 5-6, while the Golden Eagles improved to 8-4. Nat Dixon added 19 points for UTC as James Lewis, Jr., tallied his first career double-double with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Makale Foreman chipped in 14. Aleksa Jugovic ... (click for more)

#13 Roadrunners Fall To Red Hawks

#13-ranked Dalton State came up short in their third conference game of the season against Martin Methodist (Tn.) with the final score of 65-64 at Curry Christian Life Center in Pulaski, Tn.  on Saturday . To start the game, the Roadrunners jumped out a quick lead on the back of a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the game. The run was quickly halted by Red Hawks ... (click for more)

1 Killed, Another Injured In Shooting On The Southside Early Sunday Morning; Delivery Driver Carjacked On Southside Earlier

One person was killed and a second person injured in a shooting on the Southside early Sunday morning. The victims are Sharone Porter, 22, who was killed, and Torrie Porter, 24, who had non-life threatening injuries.  At 2:47 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 1400 Cowart St.  on a person shot. Upon arrival, Chattanooga Police found two victims suffering ... (click for more)

Bradley County Deputy Shoots And Kills Stabbing Suspect At Charleston

A Bradley County deputy shot and killed a man who was a suspect in a stabbing early Sunday morning. The Sheriff's Office said, "At approximately 11:54 p.m. on Saturday, a call was received at the Cleveland/Bradley County 911 Center to report a stabbing at a residence on Leyland Drive in Charleston. "The caller indicated a male had been stabbed and another male had fled from ... (click for more)

The Growing Monopoly

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Last Day Of School

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared in the Chattanooga News-Free Press in the late 1970s and every year about this time I am asked repeatedly about it. It is far and away the most famous story I have ever written – copies have been sent to me from numerous foreign countries, it’s included in teaching manuals and people I haven’t seen in years get in touch when they read it ... (click for more)