Tennessee's football program won't just host the ninth practice and second major scrimmage of Butch Jones' first spring at the helm of the Volunteers Saturday inside Neyland Stadium.
Aside from the midday scrimmage and bevy of highly sought prospects who are expected to be in attendance, Jones is having the Vols' football program host what essentially is a faculty appreciation breakfast prior to kickoff.
"Well, you know, it's something to say thank you. Obviously we're student-athletes and it's student first, before athletes," Jones told VolQuest.com. "We've had tremendous support from our faculty, all of our professors, our administration. This is kind of a way to welcome them and say thank you for all that they do and also that we respect the job that they do."
Each Tennessee player was charged with personally delivering invitations to his professors. The response? More than 100 faculty members have confirmed via rsvp for the breakfast at the stadium.
Members of the team couldn't merely send an electronic invite, either.
"Every player had to hand-deliver invitations," Jones said, who explained the benefits of the gathering can extend both ways. " ... It's also a chance for us to teach them the daily structure of a student-athlete in our football program and what they go through in their routine day-to-day, week-to-week and year-to-year. I'm really looking forward to it, and the response so far has really been overwhelming. It's been great."
Jones won't coach his first game as top Vol until late-August, and he's only been shepherding the program since the first week of December. So what's the significance of the event and the initial embrace of it?
"Well, we're one team. We're one Tennessee," Jones said. "Whether it's football, basketball, academics, English, math or science. I think it shows the support, and it's just a way to give back and it's just a way for us to say thank you. But it's also a way for us to continue to grow relationships. And that's what it's about, we're one family."
One family that will continue to have this opportunity to gather on an annual basis, Jones told VolQuest.com.
"You know, I don't really look at what's gone on in the past. This is part of our program, and it's all about relationships and building that family and trust," Jones said. "This is something that's always been a staple of our programs and yes, will be [moving forward]."