Football is back, and whether it is on campus or through social media, Saturday's season opener for UT against Austin Peay is an unavoidable topic.
New UT head coach Butch Jones has turned heads in his nine months on the job, landing some highly-touted recruits that Volunteer fans could never imagine getting a year ago. UT students have taken notice, and excitement is high with kickoff just two days away.
Kevin McCreery, a senior finance major, has seen the ups and downs of the football program. Going into his fourth season as a student, Kevin is among those who were on campus for all of Derek Dooley's tenure, but that doesn't stop him from thinking UT could be bowl-eligible in 2013.
"I am feeling a bit optimistic about this season," McCreery said. "With the new coach and losing many of our offensive weapons, a 6-6 or 7-5 season is what seems reasonable."
For McCreery, Jones is a large factor in the optimism.
"He's our guy, he seems in touch with both the team and the fan base," McCreery said. "He has brought back the excitement that was once more prevalent than past years."
McCreery also spoke about his excitement for freshman wide receiver Marquez North and provided some analysis of the position.
"It seems he may have a huge impact this year because of the lack of depth at the receiver position," McCreery said.
Some may think that pregame rituals are only used by players, but fans have their own. McCreery said he usually tries to make it to the Vol Walk, a Tennessee tradition that allows fans to watch and interact with the entire football team as it makes its way to Neyland Stadium.
Claire Nelson, a junior majoring in journalism and electronic media, is also ready for the season to begin, especially SEC play.
"I can't wait until we play the likes of Florida, Alabama and South Carolina," Nelson said. "I will be going to Gainesville to watch the Vols stomp on the Gators."
She has also been encouraged by the new level of excitement Jones has brought to the Volunteer faithful.
"I really like him," Nelson said. "He brings a spark to us fans, unlike Dooley."
It is evident that Jones has already brought excitement to campus that many did not think possible when UT finished 2012 far below expectations.
The Vols are set to square off against Austin Peay at 6 p.m. in Neyland Stadium Saturday to officially begin the Jones era.