In the past decade of UT football there have been many talented players that have accomplished great things on the gridiron, especially at the tight end position, with names such as Jason Witten and Luke Stocker. Another name to keep note of at the position and one who is currently wearing the orange and white is redshirt junior Mychal Rivera.
    
After putting up a solid sophomore campaign in his first year on campus after transferring from a junior college, Rivera has gotten off to a hot start this year. Having already matched his total in receptions (11) from last year in just three games, Rivera has also surpassed his receiving yardage totals from last year with 125. Not to mention, Rivera was named to the College Football Performance Awards weekly honor roll for his five catch, 71-yard performance in a 33-23 loss to the Florida Gators back on Sept. 17, in which he scored one of UT’s three touchdowns.
   
 “What has impressed me the most about Mychal this year is that he plays with good physicality but also has the athleticism and ball skills to make plays down the field,” UT coach Derek Dooley said. “He is a very good competitor and he has stepped right in and we haven’t missed a beat at tight end.”
    
Rivera had this to say about living up to names such as Witten and Stocker.
    
“It’s really exciting because I know I can’t slack off and I’ve got to work my butt off when I’m in there and make plays.”
    
n 2008, Rivera had originally committed to play football for the University of Oregon until a coaching change was made, but the 6-foot-3, 254-pound Los Angeles, Calif. native believes it has all been for the best.
    
“I’ve really wanted to prove all the people wrong that didn’t believe in me at Oregon and all the schools that didn’t believe in me after high school,” Rivera said. “Since I’ve gotten to Tennessee I’ve gotten a lot better. I came here for the tradition and the coaching staff. I really believe in coach Dooley and what coach Russell and Chaney are doing on the offensive side of the ball.”
     
However, there is much more to the Hollywood native than just what he does on the football field, as he is majoring in communications and his sister Naya Rivera is a celebrity. She plays the character Santana Lopez on the hit TV show Glee.
    
“It’s cool and really fun,” Rivera said about his sister being a TV star. “I’m really glad to see that she’s very successful and I’m really proud of her. When I get the time I like to sit down and watch the show.”
   
 Being over 2,000 miles away from his home, Rivera said he misses it sometimes.
    
“I’m a really laid back guy and like to have a good time,” Rivera said. “I loved growing up in California. I’m a California kid and think it’s the best place on the earth. My family has always played a big role in my life. When I have my ups and my downs they are always there to support me and give me words of encouragement and advice.”
   
 The young man whom Dooley refers to as “always smiling” also enjoys hanging out with his cousin, a rapper, off the field and going to the studio with him.