Day two at SEC Media Days has Tennessee feel thanks to Heupel and Kiffin


Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala.  — Day two of SEC Media Days brought with it the debut of one of the league’s newest coaches and the return of one of its most charismatic ones.

Vols first year head coach Josh Heupel arriving in Hoover Tuesday and getting his first taste of SEC Media Days.

Heupel knows he has his work cut out for him on Rocky Top, with the cloud of NCAA sanctions hanging over the program. A Tennessee program that has only had one winning season since 2016 and hasn’t played in the SEC Championship Game since way back in 2007.

But Heupel and the Vols are up for the challenge.

“You come to Tennessee, I came to Tennessee because you want to be a part of an iconic program, where the fan base is passionate.  Loves it.  Breathes it 365 days out of the year,” said Tennessee coach Josh Heupel.  “Our challenge as coaches and players is to celebrate the great traditions there but put a new age approach on it and get us back to where we need to be.”

“We all we got at the end of the day.  When it comes to workouts, waking up early, running.  Spring ball, fall camp.  It’s only us so we’re going to stick to that,” said Tennessee receiver Velus Jones Jr.  “Gonna grind together and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure this season is a successful one.”

In what was one of the more anticipated portions of this year’s SEC Media Days, Lane Kiffin making his return to Hoover, this time as the Rebels second year head coach.

The last time he was at this event, Kiffin was the head man on Rocky Top at Tennessee back in 2009.

A lot has changed around the SEC in the past decade plus.

“It’s, it’s totally changed,” said Kiffin. “Twelve years ago, coming in here as head coach at Tennessee, and you play Alabama and it’s 12 to 10.  There’s one touchdown combined between the two.  Then, eleven years later last season, play Alabama and, I don’t know, however many it was.  Most points and most yards in the history of an SEC game between the same two head coaches.  So I just think that’s how things have evolved.”

Kiffin also talking up his talented quarterback Matt Corral.

The SEC’s top returning passer, Corral also led the country in total offense a year ago when he threw for over 33-hundred yards and 29 touchdowns leading to some preseason Heisman hype not to mention preseason accolades.

On Tuesday, Corral was named to the watch list for the Davey O’Brien award which goes to the nation’s best QB. Corral, a much different quarterback than what he was at his last SEC Media Days back in 2019.

“The attention, definitely.  It’s something I’m not use to.  But slowly but surely I’m learning.  Getting use to it.  Really just trying to fill this role that I know I can be,” said Rebels quarterback Matt Corral.  “Winning.  I’m not really focused on myself.  I’m focused about worrying about the team.  As long as I take care of the team’s needs, my wants, everybody’s else’s wants, will fall into place.”

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