Nobody understands the phrase "Vol for Life" as well as Peyton Manning.
In front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 students and alumni on Friday afternoon, Manning and the chairs of three different senior gift committees dedicated Peyton Manning Pass and its new look.
Senior gift committees from 2007, 2008 and 2009 all worked together to add two orange and white checkerboard end zones on either end of the street, with a large Power-T in the middle.
The Vol Walk, a cherished game day tradition, calls Peyton Manning Pass home.
"This street's meant so much to me," Manning said. "I took a lot of pride in making this walk for Saturday games and the fact that four different groups of seniors have given money, given funds back to paint it just like the end zone ... it really says a lot about what UT is about: giving back to the community and embracing our university."
The spirit of embracing the university was largely present on Friday, as many alumni turned out to see UT football's most famous quarterback.
"My son is a big Peyton fan and he's number 18 on his tackle football team. He picked 18 because of Peyton," said Ashley Hamilton, an alumna who graduated the same year as Manning. "The whole new generation loves him. (My son) and all his friends are Peyton Manning fans."
Chancellor Jimmy Cheek was on hand to share the history of the street. Originally called Yale Avenue, the university decided to rename it in Manning's honor the year after he graduated. The first plans dictated that it would be known as Peyton Manning Drive, but an architecture student at UT suggested the city call it Peyton Manning Pass instead as a tribute to Manning's status as UT's leading passer on the field.
"And therefore we have Peyton Manning Pass as a result of one of our strong students saying 'this isn't right, we need to do it differently.' That's the kind of students we have at the University of Tennessee," Cheek said.
After Cheek's introduction, Manning stepped to the podium amidst raucous cheering from a crowd that took up most of the street and the nearby parking lot. He shared memories of the Vol Walk when he was a player.
"It really was special to me. I remember we started from the practice facility, I always stopped to hug my dad and give my mom a kiss right up there on the north side of this street and then started the walk down here, and the band would be down here, the cheerleaders would be cheering. ... I got more pumped up for the walk, just as much as I did for the opening kickoff," Manning said. "The fact that they renamed the street in my name, and the fact that these seniors have made it look just like the end zones, it really is special. It's a very humbling honor for me."
Manning joined Nathan and Katie Zipper, Adam Brown, Alex Hanson and Taylor Reynolds, the chairs of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 senior gift committees, to cut the ribbon. Mary Holtman-Reed, director of alumni programs, along with UT System President Joe DiPietro and Athletic Director Dave Hart joined Manning. Afterwards, he ventured into the crowd to sign autographs and speak with fans.
Hannah Price, freshman in nursing and self-proclaimed diehard Manning fan, managed to get his autograph on her hat.
"I felt like people were pushing, I literally was like shoving my hat in his face, I felt bad but ... I got the hat signed," she laughed.