Memory Vol-T: Summers flashes back to Vol career
The year was 1992 and the company included former high school teammate Jerry Colquitt and Tennessee running backs James "Little Man" Stewart and Aaron Hayden. The three were in Oak Ridge to see a young talented athlete named Shawn Summers.
"It was big," former Vol, Summers said looking back at his recruitment. "Both Aaron and Little Man were big names. To have them come over and hang out was big for me."
And that trip to Oak Ridge left Hayden both in awe and with a little brother for life.
"Jerry was probably my best friend from my playing days," Hayden said. "I just remember him saying how good Shawn was. We would go out and see the better high school teams play. Jerry wanted us to go see Shawn play. We went over there and ended up hanging out. I was impressed with him because he could do everything. You expected him to be the best player on the field and he was.
"I ended up hosting him as a recruit and he was almost like a younger brother from day one. He was just always at my house. I just took on that big brother role for him."
That relationship building helped Tennessee land the versatile athlete from nearby Oak Ridge. Even then, years later it's easy for Summers to admit that Tennessee was actually his second choice at the time.
"Tennessee wasn't my first choice," Summers said. "I wanted to play at Miami, but my father said it would be to far for me to go down there. Tennessee was my second choice and the rest is history. Coach Cut (Cutcliffe) was recruiting me and it helped out a lot that while they were still recruiting me, Aaron Hayden, Little Man Stewart came out with Jerry and we just sat around and cut up. It made that transition a lot easier."
And while a younger Summers may have had a dream of playing for the U, he is so very proud of his time in orange.
"Not many people can say they have played in front of 100,000 people," Summers said. "It's a crazy feeling running through that T. It gets you hyped."
Playing in the secondary, Summers worked hard in practice. He loved to compete and loved one more thing.
"Like I tell everyone, I loved contact," Summers said. "I wasn't scared to hit anyone. Tight ends, linemen, it didn't matter. If you go back, we had a physical defense back then and it helped me out a lot. I think that's what made us really good. We weren't afraid to hit anyone. Lovie Smith mainly had us focus on making the tackle."
Summers made some moments that will forever be engrained with him including a couple of touchdowns that he scored while returning punts. Occasionally it's fun to look back at old tapes and go down memory lane and when he does there is one game he pinpoints.
"When I watch the old films, I like to watch the Virginia Tech game in the Gator Bowl," Summers said. "I didn't return one for a touchdown, but that's the same game that Nilo Silvan went down and I went back and started returning punts. I had several tackles on defense and it was a great moment for me."
Looking back at his career, Summers recalls a moment where his high school and college careers collided.
"For me, my moment would be having the opportunity to play against Antonio London at Alabama," Summers said. "He was a player in high school for my head coach in high school, Joe Gaddis. He used to come to Oak Ridge when he was still playing at Alabama. When I went to Tennessee, I got to play one game against him. He hit me on the sideline and got up and talked trash against me. It was pretty sweet to get to play against him since he had come and worked out with us at Oak Ridge."
Summers still checks in with his former teammates like DeRon Jenkins, Jason Parker, Al Wilson and Dustin Moore. He doesn't get to many games with a busy family life.
"I have a senior that is playing volleyball that's a monster," Summers said. "I've been ripping and running following her around. I've been chasing my freshman that runs cross country. I'm all over the place. They are all at the same time as football season."