Jimmy’s blog: Heupel polled players about morning workouts

By Jimmy Hyams

HOOVER,, Ala.– When Tennessee reports for its first summer practice Aug. 4, it won’t be in the afternoon.

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel confirmed our earlier report that the Vols will engage in morning practices with players arriving at the complex at 7:30 a.m.

Heupel said when he arrived at UT, he had casual dialogue with the team about “things that matter most.’’

Part of the discussion involved practice times.

“Having done it both in the afternoon and morning,’’ Heupel said, “our players were interested in it. We talked about my experiences and our staff’s experiences with it and some of the benefits that come with it.’’

Those benefits outweighed the negatives and led Heupel to schedule morning workouts.

UT hasn’t had consistent morning practices in nine years.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey mentioned Monday that only six of the 14 SEC schools have reached the 80% vaccination threshold the league desires.

“We’re just below the threshold,’’ Heupel said. “It’s attainable for our football team as we go forward.’’

What is Heupel’s message to the players about vaccination?

“It’s an individual decision for everybody, right?’’ Heupel said. “It’s personal health, right?  I think you need to educate players to the benefits, right? And have a real conversation … about what the reality is.’’

Regarding Name, Image and Likeness, Heupel tells his players ‘’don’t forget why you’re here. It’s true when you’re 18 to 22 years old. It’s true when you’re 43, like I am. Don’t ever lose sight of what your priorities are.’’

Heupel said he expects his four quarterbacks to engage in heated competition this summer with some quarterbacks earning more reps and some losing some reps.

Asked about bringing in Michigan transfer quarterback Joe Milton after spring ball ended, Heupel said: “Competition is the greatest friend of any coach.’’

Heupel said Milton has a strong arm, is an accurate passer, is bright, has caught on to the system and has the mobility to beat you with his feet.

But that doesn’t’ ensure he will beat out Harrison Bailey or Hendon Hooker or Brian Maurer.

Heupel’s message to the quarterbacks?

“Go out and earn it,’’ he said. “It’s really critical your quarterback earns the right to be the starter. I think it’s important for the 114 other guys on the roster that they see the guy has earned it.’’

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