Tennessee Player Media Availability (Nov. 26)

Andrew Craig, R-Jr. TE

Credit: UT Athletics

On what he expects his emotions to be like while running through the T on Saturday for Senior Day:

“It will be bittersweet, of course. I think my family is going to be really excited for me and all that. I think, as a team, we’re going to be focused on Vanderbilt. We have some unfinished business to handle with them.”

On if he thinks the momentum going into this Vanderbilt matchup is better than that of last season:

“Definitely, I do. Everybody’s excited to go bowling, obviously. We’re still focused on the task at hand. We know Vanderbilt’s a good team. They’re an SEC team and there are no easy weeks in SEC play. We’ve got to show up and play our best game, which we still haven’t done yet. Once that happens, I think everybody will feel it.”

On when reaching a bowl game felt like a legitimate possibility this season:

“I think since day one. We knew it didn’t start off the way we wanted to and as Coach Pruitt’s alluded to, we had the team meeting after the Florida game, once we got back. We said, ‘Hey look guys, it hasn’t started the way we wanted this to and we know there’s only one way to get through this. We can either have fun this year and win games and go to a bowl game or we could just stay on the same path we’re doing and this year might not be so fun.’ So, I’m glad we got it turned around and we’re ready to go bowling now.”

 

Henry To’o To’o, Fr. LB

On when he felt that he would have an impact on the team, as a freshman:

“The first game. I kind of felt that I had to step up myself. I had to put more time in, in the film room, in the weight room – extra foot work, extra speed work and stuff like that.”

On the what the senior leadership was like on this year’s team:

“First of all, I just want to say I love each and every one of the seniors that are on this team right now. I’ve never been around a group of men that wanted to be the best that they could be. I’ve never been around men that expect the best out of everybody every single day, no matter what we’re doing, where we’re at. Even off the field, on the streets, or just doing something, the seniors would be watching out and making sure that we’re all on track, not that we’re doing something that we’re not supposed to do. I love those guys. They’re the heart and soul of our team, and another reason why everything’s turned around.”

On who has been a mentor to him this season:

“Every single senior. Every single senior. They kind of told me what they expected me to do when I got here and they took me under their wing. They didn’t really leave me as the freshman. They took me under and kind of showed me the ins and outs – how Tennessee is, how football is supposed to be, how we’re supposed to play on the field. It’s been great.”

On what reaching bowl eligibility meant to him:

“It meant a lot. It’s kind of just showed that all the hard work that we’ve been doing is paying off. It’s starting to turn around and kind of what we talked about earlier, we just want our seniors to leave with a happy ending. We’re doing everything we can so that they have the best season that they can.”

 

Daniel Bituli, Sr. LB

On the rivalry with Vanderbilt:

“It’s very critical. The Tennessee—Vanderbilt game is a very important game each and every year. It’s an important game that we want to win, so we’ve just got to go out there with the right mindset and go into practice today with the right mindset to do anything and everything to win this game.”

On his mindset going into his final home game:

“I definitely reflect. It’s going to be my last game in Neyland. My time here really has been amazing—the best fans in the nation. To be able to go out there for my last game and get a W for these guys, the seniors that I’ve played with during my time here, definitely would mean a lot. I plan on doing anything and everything in order to get this win. It definitely means a lot.”

On how he would describe this season:

“I would describe it as life. I’ve been preached to multiple times that football is life sped up. You’re going to go through bumps and bruises, but you’ve just got to go out there and persevere. No matter what’s thrown at you, you’ve got to let it go and just keep on working. This team has definitely done that throughout this season. I’m definitely proud of the guys in the locker room for doing that.”

On the senior class and what they’ve done to embrace the new coaching:

“I’d say buying in. These coaches, they are as consistent as any person I’ve ever seen. For all our guys that just finally bought into the program, bought into what these coaches were preaching from the time they got here, it’s really allowing us to win these games. These coaches obviously know what they’re talking about by looking at their track records. Being able to follow their lead and understand that what they’ve been saying all along is winning football. It really feels good to finally be in a position we’re in right now.”

 

Brandon Kennedy, R-Sr. OL

On progress of the offensive line:

“I think at the beginning of the season we had a lot of continuity. A lot of guys played, and I think later on in the season that’s come back and been good for us.”

On why he feels the running game has not been where they want it to be this season:

“I feel like at times we’ve been on the same page, and at other times we might not be on the same page, so I feel like that’s where it’s kind of lacking at sometimes.”

On the message the coaches gave him during the bye week:

“Just an opportunity to be a part of something special next year, and also being able to help better myself, because there are some things that I need to improve on.”

 

Darrell Taylor, R-Sr. LB

On the turnaround from the beginning to the end of the season:

“I’m really proud of our team. We’ve come a long way. The season didn’t start how we wanted it, and then we turned it around at the end of the year.”

On if it has hit him yet that he will be playing his last game in Neyland:

“Yeah it’s hitting me. It’s been hitting me all week. It hit me actually last week when we played our final away game flying on a plane to a college and being on somebody else’s field and winning a game. I think it hit me last week when we beat Missouri.”

On what he sees in Vanderbilt:

“I think Vandy is good. We’ve just got to make sure we do the little things right so we can be successful Saturday. As long as we do those things I think we’ll definitely come out with a W.”

 

Jauan Jennings, R-Sr. WR

On how it feels to be bowl eligible:

“Like I said, it’s been a long journey, a long fight, and I’m just excited. I’m thankful to be here right now and just give glory to God.”

On what the Vanderbilt game means for the seniors:

“It’s the most important game, because it’s the game at hand. It’s the next game we have here. Last home game for us seniors, so it’s going to be a lot of emotions flowing. This for us as seniors is the last game in Neyland, so we don’t want to disappoint the fans that come here each and every Saturday that we have a game here. We’re just ready to go out there and win for them.”

On going through the Vol Walk for the last time:

“It’s going to be the last Vol Walk here in Knoxville, Tennessee. A lot could be said, but it’s just a lot of gratitude to this city and to this program–everything that they’ve done for me everything that they’ve done for my brothers. It means a lot. The fans, there’s nothing like them anywhere else in this country, so I’m definitely going to miss it.”

 

Landon Knoll, R-Sr. LB

On what it has meant to him to be a part of this program:

“It’s meant the world to me. This is my fifth year, and it’s really taught me a lot about life and how you have to be humble, work hard, be disciplined, and things will work out for you as long as you stay true to the plan and what’s set in front of you.”

On how he would describe his experience through five years as a part of this program:

“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster. My freshman year we went to the Outback Bowl, and then my sophomore year we went to the Music City Bowl. That’s when we started not playing as well. I think it’s all been a wonderful experience. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of new people, a lot of new coaches who have been great influences on me whether or not they’re here now or they were here.”

On how important it is to get bragging rights back on Tennessee’s side:

“I think it’s very important. We’ve been waiting three years for this, and I think we’re going to come out swinging and play for each other, play for our coaches, and stick to the game plan.”

 

Marquez Callaway, Sr. WR

On if he thinks about all the receivers that came through Tennessee before and how the current receivers made history:

“It is pretty wild, but we try to go out and make history every day so being able to accomplish it finally is something that we can cherish.”

On how important it is to reverse the trend that has taken place with Vanderbilt the last few years:

“It’s never good to lose, especially to an in-state rival, so being able to go out and have another day to compete and another year to play them, that’s why you come to college—to play rivalry games. They’ve beat us the past three times, so we’re not looking back at it. We’re trying to look forward to it and it’s going to be another opportunity to go out and show.”

On what his thoughts will be while waiting to run through the T one final time:

“I know it’s been a lot of fun years here, it’s been four great years here, and having it be my final time at Neyland running through the T is going to be something that I cherish. I’m taking it all in, taking this week in, and the things leading up to it.”

 

Nigel Warrior, Sr. DB

On the turnaround of the team this season:

“It’s kind of speechless for me. We just came in and made a pact that we were going to all work together and try to make a turnaround. Us being able to do that as seniors, with the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors all working together it feels great.”

On what allows Marquez Callaway to be so effective on 50/50 balls:

“He wants the ball more than you. That shows. He wants the ball more than anybody else. I think that’s pretty much all our receivers, but Quez, he really wants that ball more than you and nothing’s going to stop him.”

On how close the senior class is:

“Real close. I got real close with these guys. We all became one and we all talked to each other about personal things, which made us closer—things that we would like to accomplish on the field, off the field, things like that.”

 

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