(WBIR - Knoxville) 469 former members of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band returned to march with current band members for the university's homecoming game.
Brion Randolph, former UT drum major, said, "It's so exciting and such a thrill." The pride is an ambassador for the whole state of Tennessee. I'm not biased, but this is definitely the greatest band in the land."
Former band member Rob Clark, a trumpet player, said, "It's great to be home. It's indescribable. There just a great sense of pride. It's a great homecoming."
The group of alumni band members is the largest reunion in the Pride's history. The musicians came from all over to march on the field inside Neyland Stadium.
Former band member Robert Cobb, a baritone player, said, "I used to march alumni every year after I graduated and just kind of got out of the habit. This is my first time back in several years."
This was an interesting year for the former Pride members to return. In recent weeks, the university placed long-time band director, Dr. Gary Sousa, on administrative leave. It's a move that prompted many former band members to participate.
Former band member John Myers, a trumpet player, said, "I'm sure that stirred some interest, but mainly what it stirred up was, 'I really do care about that organization so I really want to support them'."
At halftime, Randolph proved he's still got and showed off the signature UT drum major kick. The alumni band joined current band members on the field, for a total of more than 800 musicians, to salute veterans and current military personnel.