User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Vols frosh class features familiar names

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee is counting on family connections to help the program return to prominence.

Advertisement
Five players from Butch Jones' highly touted freshman class have family members who also played football for the Volunteers. A sixth freshman - wide receiver Vic Wharton - is the nephew of former Tennessee basketball player Brandon Wharton.

These newcomers want to help Tennessee end a string of four straight losing seasons and regain the stature this program enjoyed when their relatives were here.

''Especially since all of us are legacy guys, Tennessee's always been close to our hearts,'' said defensive back Elliott Berry, the younger brother of 2009 Jim Thorpe Award winner Eric Berry and the son of former Tennessee running back James Berry. ''Just the fact we're in this position and have the opportunity to put Tennessee back at the top, it's a big deal to me.''

Berry has arrived at Tennessee with his twin brother, Evan, also a defensive back. Linebacker Dillon Bates is the son of Bill Bates, who helped Tennessee earn three bowl bids from 1979-82 before beginning a 15-year NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Defensive back Todd Kelly Jr.'s father was part of Tennessee's 1989 and 1990 SEC championship teams. Linebacker Neiko Creamer is the son of Andre Creamer, who helped the Vols win an SEC title in 1985.

These freshmen say they aren't facing any extra pressure just because of their familiar names.

''My dad told me that I'm the only person that can put pressure on myself,'' Evan Berry said. ''It's just playing football, doing what I love. The last name doesn't really put pressure on me. It's just football.''

Even so, much is expected of this group, which was ranked among the nation's top five recruiting classes by multiple services. Jones believes having so many relatives of former Vols on his team should have an impact.

Tennessee's continuing to get a recruiting edge from its family connections. Last week, Tennessee received a verbal commitment from high school defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, the son of Oakland Raiders general manager and former Vols outside linebacker Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie is rated by Scout as the nation's No. 1 overall prospect in the 2015 recruiting class.

''We want individuals that have grown up understanding the rivalry with Alabama, with Florida, understanding the traditions that we have at the University of Tennessee,'' Jones said. ''So the legacy players have helped.''

The legacy players in this freshman class certainly have that understanding.

Creamer says as soon as he started getting into sports, he began to appreciate Tennessee because he'd seen pictures of his father wearing the ''Power T'' on his helmet. Elliott Berry remembers spending spring break in Knoxville as a sixth-grader and attending some of his older brother's classes and practices.

Bates, who grew up in Florida, recalls traveling to Tennessee during a hurricane evacuation as a child, attending his first game at Neyland Stadium and imagining his future.

''Just walking around the stadium and campus and seeing my dad's name everywhere, it kind of stuck in my mind this is something that I want to do, and this is somewhere that I kind of fell in love with,'' Bates said.

Now he's savoring the opportunity to play in a stadium that already has produced so many wonderful memories for his family. Bates has a handful of classmates experiencing similar emotions.

''I loved Tennessee football when I was a kid,'' Kelly said. ''I came to all the home games, got to see Eric Berry play, Jerod Mayo, Inky Johnson. I can name them all. Robert Meachem. It's pretty cool just to think I'm finally here.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
Marshall: 2017 College Hot Seat
BetOnline.ag: Tide made 2017 favorite
Manning, Haslam help in Vols AD search
Teen due in court for player slaying
Vols promote Scott, hire Canales
Off campus practices shut down
NC State hires former Wisconsin DB
SDSU's Long gets 5-year extension
Colorado brings in D.J. Eliot as DC
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2016 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 2051
Joe Williams + 1909
Pat Hawkins + 1752
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Greg Smith + 400
Joe Nelson + 385
Scott Rickenbach + 380
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Pritchard 60 %
Scott Rickenbach 59 %
Kyle Hunter 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 1239
Scott Rickenbach + 1082
Kyle Hunter + 1023
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2485
Kyle Hunter + 2166
NeiltheGreek + 2076
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Vince Akins + 805
Scott Rickenbach + 657
Pat Hawkins + 595
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership