Titans’ Kevin Byard Given MTSU Student-Athletic Center Naming Rights

MTSU Head Coach Rick Stockstill and Kevin Byard. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Cole and MTSU Athletics

They don’t call Kevin Byard the “Mayor of Murfreesboro” for nothing. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)’s Blue Raider Athletic Association announced that the current Tennessee Titans star and former Blue Raider student-athlete has given a significant gift to the Build Blue Campaign.

The gift, along with his accomplishments on and off the field, will give Byard naming rights to the strength and conditioning space in the new Student-Athlete Performance Center.

“I am super excited about the future of MTSU athletics and the impact that this new facility will have for not only recruiting, but the development of the student-athletes,” says Byard. “I am proud to be an alumnus of this great institution.”

The Build Blue Campaign has now secured over $18 million in donor cash, donor pledges and additional funds towards the over $100 million in transformational changes coming to the athletic facility landscape at MTSU. More than 300 individuals and families have contributed to the Build Blue campaign so far.

“During his time at MTSU, Kevin embodied what a student-athlete is all about in the leadership and high character he displayed in all facets of his life,” says Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. “This generous gift is another demonstration of his leadership, and we are extremely grateful for all that Kevin has done and continues to do for his university. KB was one of the hardest working student-athletes we have ever had, and we are proud to carry that legacy for generations to come. We are honored to put his name on the strength and conditioning center.”

Byard, a four-year starter for the Blue Raiders from 2012-2015, ended his career as the program’s all-time leader in interceptions (19), interception return yards (377), interception return touchdowns (4) and is one of just nine players in school history with 300 or more tackles. A team captain, Byard forced or gained 25 turnovers (19 INT, 5 FF, 1 FR) in 49 career games played.

The Lithonia, Georgia native was a First Team All-Conference selection as well as a FWAA Freshman All-American, while leading the team in interceptions all four years. MTSU retired his number 20 on Sept. 30, 2022, making it only the second football number to be retired in school history.

“I can’t thank Kevin enough for what he has done and is doing for Middle Tennessee football,” says Head Coach Rick Stockstill. “Kevin will always have a special place in my heart because of the respect, love and appreciation I have for him.”

MTSU’s goal for the Build Blue Campaign was increased to $20 million in September and construction on the $66-million Student-Athlete Performance Center is expected to begin next month.

The three-story, 85,500-square-foot performance center will provide all MTSU student-athletes with new facilities for weight training, nutrition and sports medicine. It will also be the new home for Blue Raider Football, allowing MTSU to relocate their football operations from Murphy Center to Floyd Stadium.

Tickets On Sale Now For Tennessee Vs. Virginia Kickoff Game At Nissan Stadium

Tickets for the highly anticipated 2023 college football season opener between the Tennessee Volunteers and Virginia Cavaliers on Sept. 2 are available now.

“We look forward to having the Vols and Cavaliers kick off the opening weekend of college football here in Nashville,” says Nashville Sports Council President & CEO Scott Ramsey. “We know their loyal fanbases will converge [in] Music City and help showcase what makes this one of the best atmospheres for college football in the country.”

This will be the third time Tennessee has played in a regular season, non-conference game at Nissan Stadium since taking on Bowling Green in 2015 and Wyoming in 2002. The Vols, who are coming off of 11-2 season, last played at Nissan Stadium in December during the 2021 TransPerfect Music City Bowl.

Virginia returns to Nissan Stadium for the first time since 2005, when they took on Minnesota in the then- Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl presented by Bridgestone. The Cavaliers won that game 34-31 on a late field goal, and quarterback Marques Hagans, who now serves as Virginia’s Associate Head Coach and wide receivers coach, was named MVP.

A kickoff time for the opener will be announced at a later date. Fans can purchase tickets through Ticketmaster.

Keith Bulluck Named 2023 Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame Inductee

Keith Bulluck. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck has been named a member of the 2023 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class. Bulluck was surprised with the news Thursday night at a Titans ticket holder event at Nissan Stadium featuring Tennessee Sports Hall of Famer Mike Keith and new Titans General Manager Ran Carthon.

“Keith Bulluck was the heart and soul of the Tennessee Titans defense for many years. His leadership on and off the field was instrumental in the Titans success of the early 2000’s,” says Brad Willis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. “Keith has made his home in Tennessee for over 20 years, and we’re excited to have him as part of our 2023 Hall of Fame Class.”

Bulluck was born in New York, and played collegiately at Syracuse, playing safety and linebacker for the Orange from 1996-1999. As a senior, he led the Big East in tackles with 138, and was presented with the Bill Horr Award, given annually to Syracuse’s Most Valuable Player. The Tennessee Titans drafted Bulluck with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Bulluck played 10 seasons for the Titans, before signing with the New York Giants for his final season. Nicknamed “Mr. Monday Night” for his ability to shine on the Primetime stage, Bulluck was a three-time All Pro and 2003 Pro Bowl. He officially retired from football in 2012.

Bulluck joins former Predators Captain Mike Fisher, Memphis Football linebacker Tim Harris, MTSU baseball legend Steve Smith, golfer Loren Roberts, Bristol Motor Speedway Co-Founder Carl R. Moore, ETSU Basketball Coach and Athletics Director Les Robinson, and Lady Vol Track star and Olympic Gold Medalist Tianna Madison as 2023 Inductees. The full 2023 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class will be released over the coming weeks.

The induction ceremony, presented by the Tennessee Titans, will be held Saturday, July 22nd at the Omni Nashville Downtown. Ticket information will be announced at a later date.

Report: Titans To Release Veteran Center Ben Jones As Roster Shake-Up Continues

Ben Jones. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans continue to make drastic roster moves this offseason as they’re now releasing veteran center Ben Jones, according to a report by Buck Reising.

The 6’3, 308-pounder was originally selected by the Houston Texans in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. Jones has been an anchor for the Titans and for his past teams. From 2012 through 2021, Jones appeared in 160 of 161 possible regular season games, including starts in all but one game during his first six seasons in Tennessee.

From 2016-2021, the Titans averaged 137.7 rushing yards per game, posting the second-highest average in the NFL behind the Baltimore Ravens (150.6). Jones joined the Titans as a free agent in 2016, and was elected to his first career Pro Bowl in 2022 despite missing five games with concussions.

He becomes the fifth player released by the Titans this year following left tackle Taylor Lewan, receiver Robert Woods, linebacker Zach Cunningham, kicker Randy Bullock and outside linebacker Bud Dupree.

The Titans will free up $3.708 on their salary cap, with Jones counting $4.87 million in dead money.

Tennessee Titans Announce Football Development Grant Opportunity

The Tennessee Titans have announced the opening of a statewide Football Development Grant Application. This opportunity is provided for youth and high school football programs, NFL Flag Football and nonprofit organizations working in football development.

“Youth and high school football programs play a deeply important role in our community inspiring young athletes to develop skills on the field, but most importantly character off the field,” says Josh Corey, Titans Director of Marketing, Youth & Community Engagement. “Supporting efforts in football development is a top priority for the Titans organization. We hope these grants offer teams and programs the needed support to keep championing their mission.”

Grants will be awarded in the amount of $2,500 – $5,000 to selected applicants. Organizations that support opportunities for non-traditional football participation will be given priority consideration.

The Titans Football Development Grant is one of many programs and initiatives under the Tennessee Titans Football Outreach and Development Initiative, which is committed to addressing the needs of youth and high school football organizations across Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama.

The application deadline is Monday, March 20. For more information about the Titans Football Development Grant or to apply, click here.

Titans’ Coaches Mike Vrabel & Lori Locust To Speak At NFL Women’s Forum

Mike Vrabel. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel and newly hired Defensive Quality Control Coach Lori Locust are set to speak at the National Football League’s seventh annual NFL Women’s Forum on Feb. 28 and March 1 in Indianapolis as part of its ongoing, league-wide commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The program will connect 41 women, 60 percent being women of color, with leaders in professional football to provide insight and networking opportunities for their careers in the areas of scouting, coaching and football operations.

There have been 26 NFL clubs that have hired past Forum participants and over 225 opportunities have emerged for women in all levels of football since its inception in 2017. Last summer, the NFL had 15 women in coaching roles during training camp – a record for any male professional sports league in the world.

Locust, who was hired by the Titans this past month, is an NFL Women’s Forum alum and is the first female positional coach in the NFL and Titans history.

For the first time since February 2020, the program will return to an in-person format during the NFL Combine. The two days of programming will include panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking activities with owners, executives, coaches, industry experts and hiring managers representing all 32 NFL clubs. The NFL partners with Women Leaders in College Sports to assist with the program and to create a development curriculum for the participants.

Featured speakers for this year’s virtual forum include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Co-Owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz as well as several NFL club owners, head coaches and general managers.

The first two panels on day one of the Forum (Tuesday, Feb. 28) will be open for media attendance (the agenda for those two panels is outlined below). There will be additional interactive learning sessions for participants that evening as well. Day two (Wednesday, March 1), consists of more intimate breakout and development sessions between club and league coaches, executives and football operations staff with this year’s Forum participants, which will be closed to media and outside viewers.

Speakers for the 7th Annual NFL Women’s Forum:

  • Jane Skinner Goodell, Executive Producer, Earnin’ It: The NFL’s Forward Progress
  • Brandon Beane, Buffalo Bills General Manager
  • Andrew Berry, Cleveland Browns General Manager
  • Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Owner/President, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation/President, Glazer Vision Foundation
  • Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner
  • Brian Daboll, New York Giants Head Coach
  • Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans Head Coach
  • Dasha Smith, NFL Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer
  • Angela Baker, New York Giants Offensive Quality Control Coach
  • Callie Brownson, Cleveland Browns Assistant Wide Receivers Coach
  • Maral Javadifar, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Director of Rehabilitation & Performance
  • Jennifer King, Washington Commanders Assistant Running Backs Coach
  • Autumn Lockwood, Philadelphia Eagles Strength & Conditioning Seasonal Associate
  • Lori Locust, Tennessee Titans Defensive Quality Control Coach

The Titans Release Taylor Lewan, Robert Woods & Randy Bullock

Offensive lineman Taylor Lewan and head coach Mike Vrabel. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans have released veteran offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, wide receiver Robert Woods and kicker Randy Bullock in what are the first of many roster moves this offseason.

Lewan, the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, was released with a ‘failed physical’ designation.

During his time in Tennessee, Lewan made 106 career starts, including playoffs, and he made it to three Pro Bowls. Lewan has had two ACL surgeries in three years, however, and he’s only played in 20 games over the past three seasons.

“I hope I did enough to create something all the titan fans can be proud of, I love you all,” Lewan posted on Twitter.

The Titans acquired Woods in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams last offseason. Woods had a disappointing season where he caught 53 passes for 527 yards in 2022, with two touchdowns.

Bullock, meanwhile, joined the Titans prior to the 2021 season and kicked for the team the past two seasons. Bullock made 17-of-20 field goals for the Titans in 2022, and 28-of-28 extra points.

2023 Vanderbilt Football Season Tickets On Sale Now

Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

After a solid 2022 season, Vanderbilt football season tickets are on now available for the upcoming season, the third under Head Coach Clark Lea.

Fans who had tickets last season have until March 30 to renew their seats for 2023. In addition, new season tickets are on sale starting at $225.

The season opens on Aug. 26 when Hawaii visits FirstBank Stadium. The Commodores will also host Alabama A&M, Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia and Auburn this fall.

Season Ticket Renewals:
· Fans have until March 30 to renew.
· Fans should renew prior to the deadline to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in the online seat upgrade process later in April.
· After the deadline, seats will be released from non-renewed accounts, first becoming available to other season ticket holders, then to the general public.

New Season Ticket Purchases:
· Fans purchasing for the first time can click here.
· Season ticket holders save an average of 25 percent over purchasing single-game tickets.
· Prices start at $225 for the season.

Season Parking Passes:
· Season ticket holders have access to purchase a season parking pass.
· Spaces are available in the surface lots off of Natchez Trace for $125 for the season.
· Each season ticket account can purchase up to three parking spots. Fans are not permitted to take more than one space without purchasing the appropriate number of parking passes.

Chair Back Seat Cushions:
· Season ticket holders can purchase season-long chair backs for their seats.
· The new chairs for 2023 are weatherproof and made from a breathable, instant-drying fabric which is tear and stain resistant.

Payment Plans:
· Only season ticket holders can take advantage of payment plans.
· The plans provide the flexibility to pay in as many as five monthly installments from the day of purchase through July.

Additional Season Ticket Holder Benefits:
· Dedicated sales representative from the Vanderbilt ticket office
· Access to the best available inventory
· Same seat every game
· Opportunity to purchase away game tickets
· Priority access to any postseason games
· National Commodore Club membership benefits
· Special pricing on additional single-game tickets
· Exclusive season ticket holder discount at Vanderbilt’s official online store
· Early access to mini-plans and single-game ticket sales
· Special offers for other Vanderbilt athletics events
· Exclusive season ticket holder events
· Ability to request one videoboard message per season (while supplies last)