Phillip Fulmer has not been to Haslam Field since 2008, his last year as head coach of the Tennessee football team.
However, Fulmer returned to the practice field Tuesday, this time as a spectator wearing a dress shirt and tie alongside some of his former players.
Head coach Butch Jones allowed Fulmer to speak to his UT squad, where he talked about the history of the program and what it means to play for Tennessee.
Jones was thrilled to have the former national championship coach at practice preaching to his team.
"It was great to have coach Fulmer at practice today," Jones said. "He also spoke with the team and had a great message for them. It's a pride of who we are. We are one Tennessee, 800-plus program wins. So to have him back, I think meant a lot to everyone."
Jones has formed a pleasant relationship with Fulmer, which he uses to improve his knowledge of the game.
"Any time you have a resource like Coach Fulmer, we talk football," Jones said. "We talk a lot of football, just like with Coach Majors, as well. I want to get as much information as I can, on football, on the University of Tennessee (and) their great teams."
Jones emphasizes unity among the past Tennessee players and coaches, and values what they can provide for the program.
"It is those relationships with these type of individuals (that) really mean everything to me," Jones said. "Because people make a place and we have great people here."
Vols lacking "splash" plays
After only five plays of more than 20 yards in UT's losses to Oregon and Florida, Jones is emphasizing the importance of "splash" plays in the offense.
"You need big chunk plays, we need somebody to turn a 5-yard hitch into a 35-yard gain and that helps the quarterbacks as well," Jones said Monday.
One player who fits that description is sophomore wide receiver Pig Howard.
After missing the Oregon game with an injury, he accounted for two plays of more than 20 yards against Florida, as well as an 18-yard touchdown catch.
In addition to being a dangerous receiver, the UT staff is learning on the sophomore to make plays as a runner.
Against Western Kentucky, Howard picked up 20 yards on an end-around play.
Junior quarterback Justin Worley rates him as one of the offense's most important players.
"He's a great asset to our offense," Worley said. "He brings an explosive player, a guy that can turn a bubble screen into a 60-yard touchdown. So having him in the slot, it just provides a sure hand for us out wide."
Worley added that his comfort level with Howard is "very strong."
Senior offensive lineman Zach Fulton also understands the importance of explosive plays for the offense.
"It's hard being an offense without any momentum, period," Fulton said. "We've got to get some of the momentum going. We're going to need explosive plays to get that momentum going and get everybody riled up and the offense moving on."