Soon after being named coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, Derek Dooley created the multi-faceted “Vol for Life” program, led by former UT defensive back Andre Lott, that focuses on four areas of personal growth for players: character education, life skills, career development and spiritual growth.

“When we put in that tag-phrase ‘Vol for Life,’ it’s something that’s not a creation, it’s real,” Dooley told The Daily Beacon. “These guys, when they leave here, they consider themselves Vols. It’s the whole ‘Once a Vol, always a Vol.’”

So what does the term “Vol for Life” truly mean?

“I think it’s one: recognizing and appreciating the three-to-four year experience (players) had at Tennessee, and all that Tennessee gave to them,” Dooley said. “Then, when they leave, there’s a continual bond that the player has with the program and that the program has with the player. It’s so important not to ever feel a disconnect between program and former players because they are the ones that made this program the special program that it is and I’ll always remember that.”


It had been 10 years since Tennessee beat Alabama when the Volunteers and Crimson Tide met on Oct. 14, 1995.

The sixth-ranked Vols set the tone on the first play from scrimmage.

Joey Kent hauled in a pass from Peyton Manning and outran the Alabama defense 80 yards for a touchdown.

“It was one of those plays that we ran consistently every game and lucky Alabama’s defense was in the perfect defense for that particular play,” Kent said. “Peyton and I kind of looked at each other, we saw the potential of the play before it happened but obviously we didn’t know that it would go for 80 yards. Me being from Alabama, that holds a special place for me because for one, we hadn’t beaten those guys in so long, the history of the game and getting that monkey off our back during that time is just a special memory for me.”

Tennessee never looked back and defeated the Crimson Tide 41-14.

“Personally, I think we could’ve beaten anybody in the country that night,” Kent said. “It clicked on all three phases of the game.”

The two-time All-SEC wide-out helped UT’s offense click on many occasions during his playing career from 1993-96.

He sits atop the Vol record books in career receptions (183), career receiving yards (2,814) and career touchdown receptions (25). Honors he’s surprised he still holds.

“Through hard work and having the best quarterback in college during that time didn’t hurt either with Peyton, and obviously having some talented guys around me,” Kent said. “We had a great offensive line, we had some great running backs during that time. I had Peerless Price and Marcus Nash on the other side of me at receiver.

“With that combination, it was just the perfect storm that allowed me to get some of those records because without my teammates, without obviously Peyton and the team as a whole, I don’t think I would’ve had that success. It’s an amazing feeling because I know how many great receivers have come through that program.”

Despite having to play quarterback some his senior year in high school and safety on defense, Kent wanted to play receiver in college and Tennessee gave him that chance while the in-state Crimson Tide wanted him to play in the secondary.

“It was an easy decision,” Kent said. “Playing safety at Alabama or playing receiver at the University of Tennessee, Wide Receiver U.”

Following his time in Knoxville, Kent played four seasons in the NFL, three with the Tennessee Titans and his final year with the Minnesota Vikings. He caught 13 balls and scored one touchdown in his pro career.

“My NFL career didn’t go as I planned and as I wanted it to but I was blessed to have the opportunity to get drafted in the second round and I had the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl with the Titans,” he said. “There’s not a lot of regrets. I accomplished a lot in college and I got the opportunity to play in the NFL. It just didn’t work out the way I planned.”

Today, Kent is married with two children. He’s been involved in pharmaceutical sales for the past seven years and co-hosts “The Tennessee Tailgate,” a radio show on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone on Saturdays before UT games.

“I think I maximized everything I could’ve gotten out of football and now it’s time to look at it and enjoy it and pull for the Vols,” he said. “Hopefully we can get over this hump and transition of Tennessee not being what we're used to.”