Tennessee Vols morning report: Bowl practices continue

Preparations for the Gator Bowl against the Indiana Hoosiers by the Tennessee Vols football team leads our Volunteers news for Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.

The Winter Solstice is one day away. Christmas is five days away. We are into the heart of the holiday season and drawing towards the end of the decade, and with this day being the official end of the early signing period, the Tennessee Vols are gearing up for their bowl game now.

Those bowl preparations are what lead our early morning update on Rocky Top. We’re back to covering the football team and looking ahead to what’s in store for them as lead stories. Men’s and women’s basketball are still in full swing as well, but football takes the news for today and in reality for the whole week.

In addition to practice coverage, we’ve got a player being a finalist for a great award to cover. And we also have to cover the closing out of a diving event. So there is plenty of stuff to coverage. Let’s start with the football news.

Football Vols continue bowl practice – Wes Rucker, GoVols247

After a strong early signing period, it was back to work for Jeremy Pruitt and this Tennessee Vols football team. They have less than two weeks now before they face the Indiana Hoosiers in the Gator Bowl, so another practice was held on Thursday. Junior defensive lineman Matthew Butler spoke with the media that day about the value of these extra practices.

“As crazy as it sounds, it can only take one day to really take, you know, that big stride that you might need — like, kind of realizing just how to play ball and kind of realizing your niche, whatever it is you need to do to progress and move forward,” Butler said after Thursday’s practice at Haslam Field. “You can definitely get better during this time, or any time.”

Trey Smith a finalist for Jason Witten award – jasonwitten82.com

An award named after a former Tennessee Vols football player has a current UT player as a finalist to win it this year. Junior offensive lineman Trey Smith was named as one of three finalists along with Air Force Falcons running back Isaiah Sanders and USC Trojans running back Michael Pittman.

Selected from a group of 20 semifinalists by a subset of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Board of Directors, the three finalists have all demonstrated an outstanding record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship. All three will be invited to the award ceremony on February 19, 2020, at The Star in Frisco, Texas, where the winner will be announced.

Diving team completes Auburn Invitational – UTSports

Thursday was the fourth and final day of the Auburn Invitational for the Tennessee Vols diving team. It was the final event for the swimming and diving program until January.

The Tennessee diving team wrapped up the Auburn Invitational Thursday with a solid showing on men’s platform at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center. Junior Keegan Richardson performed well on tower, finishing fourth with a score of 308.55, qualifying him for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships.