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FHS-connected Vols enjoy game action under Neyland lights
Hargrave first UT JV opponent since 1992

It wasn’t Georgia on the field with 106,000 screaming fans and a CBS national television audience in witness. But it was Neyland Stadium under the lights against a real opponent — special well beyond the stature of the Tennessee’s annual Orange and White Game to close spring practice.

That was the thought of two Volunteers, both ex-Farragut High School graduates and former standout Admirals, after competing in the Vols’ first junior varsity scrimmage since 1992.

“I haven’t played with this much intensity since ’05,” sophomore Court Courtney said in comparing UT’s 37-20 win against Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) to his senior season at FHS. “And the Orange and White Game, it’s still the same team. [Here] I’m hitting guys I don’t even know.”

Courtney, a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder listed as a fullback, played extensively on special teams coverage units and as a middle linebacker. At LB, Courtney ended with four tackles, including three solo.

He was one of five ex-Admiral standouts — all of whom are non-scholarship “Volunteer Squad” members — to play in the Thursday, Sept. 27 game: junior linebacker Brett Barnes, senior defensive tackle Adam Gillem, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dylan Dickey and redshirt freshman wide receiver/holder Geoff Courtney.

Looking toward playing a key role in UT varsity special teams in 2008, Court said, “There’s definitely a hope, it’s a goal of mine to get out there and show the coaches I can get down there and make plays. This year I probably won’t be able to, but next year it’s a goal of mine to show ’em in spring that I can make some plays.”

Gillem (6-foot-1, 260) said this game’s atmosphere, as opposed to the Orange and White Game, was “a totally different experience — under the lights, you can’t beat that, as well as coming out here going against another team,” he said. “Not beating up on your own guys. You get that look in your eye that you’re going out there to play somebody.”

“Under the lights takes me back to high school days, glory days,” Gillem added. “It happened so quick out here tonight, it was like zap and it was done. You’re just thankful for it.”

Although Geoff Courtney said he “had a couple of plays in the Orange and White game” he added, “ this is the first time I’ve had extensive playing time out there. “It was good to get that experience.”

Barnes, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound starting middle linebacker for the Vol JVs, had four tackles, two of them solo. “I thought I did pretty good,” he said. “I’m trying to get myself in position to help out on special teams for next year. It’s something I’m going to have to work hard at.”


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