Vols boast new culture, progress under Jones

It's taken a while for the Vols to establish a culture of veteran leadership under Butch Jones.

Corey Vereen committed to the Vols in March 2012 to play for then-head coach Derek Dooley.

Dooley was fired Nov. 18, 2012. Less than one month later, Tennessee introduced Butch Jones as its new head coach. Vereen, a defensive end from Winter Garden, Florida, found himself on a rebuilding team in 2013 - a far cry from where he finds himself in 2016.

"It was a different time when I was here my freshman year," Vereen said. "It wasn't the same. Everybody wasn't patting you on the back like they are now. It makes me really appreciate Jalen [Reeves-Maybin, linebacker], guys like Cam [Sutton], [Josh] Dobbs. From the get-go in 2013, to what we've done, it's been crazy."

Jones entered his fourth season as Tennessee's head football coach Thursday, having compiled a 21-17 record in his tenure. He boasts Team 120 is "player-led" due to its veteran leadership.

It wasn't easy.

"The hardest thing when you take over a football program is you have to make sure that you lay down the standards of expectations day in and day out, and you do not compromise," Jones said. "The culture has to be set in place."

Vereen said it's taken a while to get to the culture Team 120 boasts in 2016.

"It just makes me appreciate what we have now so much more," Vereen said.

Some seniors said Jones showed a more light-hearted, positive side during fall camp. Jones, in turn, has said each team he's coached has different needs. 

This year, Jones has the luxury of letting players like Vereen - now a senior - take charge.

"Sometimes you're going to be a little bit different the first couple of years," Jones said. "Because you have to make sure there are some things that are non-negotiables."


(© 2016 WBIR)


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