More than a game: Vols helping Gators recover after Hurricane Irma

Sept. 13, 2017: As the Vols and Gators get ready for a big rivalry match-up, the teams are focused on more than football as Florida recovers from Hurricane Irma.

KNOXVILLE - Sometimes, there are things more important than football during Florida rivalry week. Just ask University of Tennessee sophomore wide receiver Brandon Johnson. 

"I know there's a lot going on back home. My mind and my heart is always with my people back home," Johnson said. "People went through a lot, people are still going through a lot."

Johnson's family evacuated from their Fort Lauderdale home before Hurricane Irma hit. While their home was undamaged, not everyone in Florida was so lucky. 

"I know that Florida is going to need all of the help they can get, and to get it from the University of Tennessee is a blessing," Johnson said. 

Even as the teams prepare for one of the biggest rivalry games of the season, the Vols are committed to helping the Gators recover from the storm. 


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"It's more than a sport," said Kayla Smith, a UT assistant athletics director. "It's about teaching our students the value of relationships and helping each other."

UT has started an online fundraiser to raise money for University of Florida students who have been affected by the hurricane. 

The UT Police Department will also send 24 officers to Gainesville this weekend to help officers with the UF Department of Public Safety who have been busy rebuilding after the storm. 

"We all are very much interested in the same thing they are, which is to ensure that we provide a safe venue for people to come and watch a football game," UTPD Chief Troy Lane said. "It's really just about helping out another agency that really needs our help right now." 

This week, sportsmanship might just be more important than the actual game. 

"At the same time though, it's still the University of Florida," said Johnson. "We're going to strap up and go out there and give it our all."

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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