In an unusual move Friday afternoon, UT athletics allowed its freshmen football players to speak to the media. Typically, freshmen are not allowed to speak to the media, per SEC and NCAA rules.
However, these are not your typical freshmen.
The six freshmen that met the media at the Anderson Training Center on Friday are members of the "legacy class" in the 2014 recruiting class.
These six players are called "legacies" because they have family ties to the Vols. Three players, Todd Kelly Jr., Dillon Bates and Neiko Creamer, had fathers who played football at Tennessee. Vic Wharton III had an uncle who played on the basketball team, and twins Evan and Elliot Berry, had both their father and older brother play football in Neyland Stadium.
All six players grew up knowing about their Big Orange heritage, but their family made sure to never pressure them into following their footsteps.
"My dad never pressured me into anything with Tennessee football," Dillon Bates said about his father and UT legend Bill Bates. "He did a great job of giving me a chance to look around and explore my options to make my own decision."
When asked if they feel any pressure living up to their esteemed brother, Eric Berry, both Berry twins echoed the same sentiment.
"That's not really on my mind. I feel like I already have my own name," Elliot Berry said. "I mean, my name's not Eric. I feel like I already make my own path."
Evan Berry agreed with his brother.
"My last name doesn't really put pressure on me," he said. "My dad always told me I'm the only person who can put pressure on myself. It's just football."
If it is the goal of every current player to make the Vols once again successful, the legacy players have an extra passion to see the image of the Vols restored to its former glory. They have taken it upon themselves to be the catalysts in Tennessee's resurgence.
"I feel like Tennessee has always been close to all of our hearts," Elliot Berry said. "The fact that we're in the position to have the opportunity to put Tennessee back at the top is a big deal."
Bates agreed with Elliot Berry and has confidence in himself and his new teammates to make the future much brighter on Rocky Top.
"It's everybody's goal to bring back Tennessee to where it's supposed to be. It will happen," Bates said. "It's just a matter of time of us getting together and doing everything we can to help us this season.
"It's all about looking at what we can do right now to bring us back to where we're supposed to be."
For Todd Kelly Jr., the state of the program hits home more than most. He grew up in Knoxville and played at Webb High School. He's experienced the downfall of the Vols firsthand.