Tennessee football: Spring game stadium atmosphere stands out to targets

A Tennessee fan cheers from the stands at the Orange & White spring game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, April 24, 2021.Kns Vols Spring Game
A Tennessee fan cheers from the stands at the Orange & White spring game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, April 24, 2021.Kns Vols Spring Game /

If there’s one advantage Tennessee football can always find on the recruiting trail, it’s always going to be the atmosphere at Neyland Stadium. With things reopening now, particularly in the state, that advantage could be magnified now.

Numerous recruiting targets were on hand for the Vols’ Orange and White game this past Saturday, and the energy and atmosphere of the fans in the stadium was a consistent takeaway for all of them. That’s a good sign for Josh Heupel going forward.

Many of the prospects taken in by the atmosphere were three-stars from Georgia, including three key players. Two of them are offensive linemen, and two of them are ironically from Alpharetta, Ga., where Josh Dobbs is from.

Maurice Clipper fits both profiles. The graduate of Milton High School was taken in by the high-scoring affair, which could play a role in luring him to Rocky Top down the road. Here’s a bit of what he said about the setting despite the rainy weather, according to Matthew Ray of SI.com.

"“I liked the atmosphere of everything,”…“Even with the rainy day and stuff, I really liked the environment the crowd brought to the game.”"

One of the guys Clipper’s blocks for at Milton High, his teammate Jordan McDonald, was also at the game. The running back touted the energy of the stadium and the fans. Here’s a bit of what he said, according to Austin Price of VolQuest.com.

"“When we get here, it was high energy all the way through. The fans were excited, the student section was extremely live, and it was all hyped up.”"

Elijah Zollicoffer out of Newton High School in Covington, Ga. is another offensive lineman.Here’s what he said about the atmosphere and the play of the offensive line in the game, which obviously stood out to a lot of people, according to Ray.

"“I liked the whole vibe and the energy the game gave off. For a spring game, it was great. I liked how the whole offensive line was doing a great job. I liked the whole offensive system and the defensive. I loved it for the first time. It was an excellent atmosphere. I kept getting a great vibe throughout the game, so it was a great atmosphere.”"

Offensive linemen didn’t just come from Georgia either. They also came from within the state. Three-star Grayson Morgan out of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn. made the trip up the road. The stadium size stood out to him as much as anything. Here’s some of what he said, according to Ben McKee of VolQuest.

"“It was great. I loved it. That stadium is massive and the fans are going to cheer you on. I really want to see a game atmosphere because I know it’s loud in there. The culture there is good. You could tell by how many fans were in the stands.”"

Beyond Tennessee and Georgia and beyond offensive linemen, three-star tight end Brody Foley came down from Cincinnati, Ohio to see the game as well. The play of the tight ends and the tempo stood out in a positive way to him, but once again, the atmosphere was a big talking point. Here’s what he said, according to McKee.

"“It was awesome. Weird being in a football stadium with fans and it was awesome to have that feeling. I know it’s nothing like a gameday during the fall in Neyland, but it was entertaining.”"

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Taking a look at all of these quotes, Tennessee football is clearly standing out to future recruits with their atmosphere, and that gives off the vibe, no pun intended, that they are returning to their glory days in recruiting. It’s a consistent theme with prospects.

Even Texas Longhorns transfer linebacker Juwan Mitchell, who is still in the market as a transfer portal entry and attended the game, specifically described the stadium as “beautiful” and the fans as “loyal,” according to Trey Wallace of Rocky Top Insider. Coming from Texas, that’s a big statement to make.

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This is all a great sign for Tennessee football. To even sense energy among the fans given everything they have dealt with is worthy of celebrating. If that momentum continues, bigger things could be on the horizon when it comes to recruiting.