When Lane Kiffin convinced the No. 1 recruit in the country to sign on at Tennessee, many fans, including myself, were beside themselves with sheer amazement.
On Thursday of this past week, that recruit, Bryce Brown, found out just exactly what he signed up for.
The first hit came from linebacker Herman Lathers. Brown was carrying the ball when Lathers hit him from the blind side. The star recruit flew through the air, as did the ball—it was Brown's third fumble in three days of practice.
The fumble was the least of Brown's worries, however. He didn't take that long to get up either. Reports say that Brown got right up and went back to the huddle. Talk about making an impression. He earned some more respect by not complaining about the multiple hits he received all day.
Coach Lane Kiffin told the Knoxville News Sentinel, "I doubt he’s been hit like that before ever. Some guys get hit like that and they stay down for a while.
"That’s what we need to do," Kiffin went on to say. "This conference is going to hit him like that. They’re not going to take it easy on him."
Lathers, the hit-deliverer, told the KNS, "It’s just, 'Welcome to SEC ball.'"
Welcome to SEC ball is correct. There were two other big-time hits on Brown Thursday as well.
Friday came, and we heard that Brown would be kept out of contact drills due to a slight concussion. Welcome to the SEC, kid.
Coach Kiffin has received some hushed criticism over the level of physicality from day one of fall camp. Kiffin told the KNS, "No, actually I believe we had two people not practice that had come into camp practicing, so that’s pretty good for 104 guys."
He went on to say, "We’re going to scrimmage. We’re going to tackle and see who can really tackle, see who can play off cut blocks and play real football when everything else is going on."
The first two days were no-pad days. Yet the reports out of camp said that there was plenty of contact. Then Brown gets a concussion on the first day in shoulder pads.
Today starts the first day of full pads.
The Vols will participate in the first full scrimmage of the fall Saturday at 3 pm. Expect plenty of hits and potential injury news coming out of Knoxville tomorrow.
Already out of action after just four days of practice are Brown, CB Brent Vinson, and LB Rico McCoy. Vinson was reportedly on crutches yesterday, and McCoy is having problems with his knee.
The Vols are not quite used to hitting this hard, this early. Kiffin has definitely instilled a new level of physical play. Hopefully this will pay off on Sept. 5 and throughout the season.
For years the Vols have had trouble keeping up with the level of their opponents' toughness. Regardless of what you may think about key players being injured, it's not really a bad thing. If this translates into wins during the fall, it's a very good thing.
Toughness on the O-line and at running back can only help this team regain its reputation in the rough-and-tumble SEC.