AP College Football Poll Drops With Tennessee Sitting At No. 12

Neyland Stadium. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

College football season is less than three weeks away, and the Associated Press (AP) has dropped its first Top 25 Poll of the 2023-2024 season with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville landing at No. 12.

The University of Georgia occupies the No. 1 spot as back-to-back National Champions. The University of Michigan and Ohio State University follow at No. 2 and No. 3 with the University of Alabama at No. 4 and Louisiana State University at No. 5 as they head into their second season with Head Coach Brian Kelly.

Other SEC teams include the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at No. 22 and Texas A&M University at No. 23, with the University of South Carolina receiving 73 votes.

The Volunteers will face Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M and South Carolina this upcoming season. Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel is set to lead the team for the third straight year after their 11-2 season in 2022. The Volunteers had their best season in over a decade, beating Alabama for the first time since 2006. They also went on to win the Orange Bowl against No. 7 Clemson.

The Vols were tied for No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll in Week 9 before losing to Georgia. The team hurt their College Football Playoff chances further when they lost to South Carolina in their second to last game of the season. They finished the year at No. 6 in the Poll.

Tennessee will kicks off the season at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 2, where they will face the University of Virginia.

Vanderbilt Announces Updates To Stadium Ahead Of Football Season

FirstBank Stadium construction rendering. Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Fans attending Vanderbilt Athletics sporting events this fall should be prepared for road closures, and new routes to pedestrian walkways, entrances and exits of facilities as part of the construction that is underway.

Both the South and North end zones are under construction to make way for a renovated FirstBank Stadium, a new basketball practice facility, student-athlete dining hall, and a variety of premium seating options.

“I appreciate Commodore Nation’s patience this fall as we reimagine FirstBank Stadium and the future of Vanderbilt Athletics, together,” says Candice Storey Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. “We are forging ahead with the progress that we all deserve, in spite of the temporary inconveniences that accompany such a huge undertaking. By sacrificing together this fall, we can ensure Coach Lea’s team enjoys the home-field advantage it deserves.”

“As Team 3 builds on the foundation put in place on the field, we continue building on the foundation you make possible by supporting Vandy United. We’re in this together.”

Fans should be prepared for road closures. Those traveling to campus will experience detours and road closures at Natchez Trace between Jess Neely Drive and Kensington Place. Jess Neely Drive between Natchez Trace and 25 Avenue South will be closed, and 25th Avenue South between Jess Neely Drive and Blakemore Avenue will be closed. There will be no through traffic on Children’s Way between 24th Avenue and Natchez Trace. For more information on best routes, visit here.

There will be changes to fans’ walking routes to the stadium and paths to reserved seats. The specific entrance to use based on seating location(s) will be printed on the digital ticket, along with way-finding signage throughout the FirstBank Stadium footprint, Vandyville areas and parking lots that will indicate how to enter and exit the stadium, find seats, and directions to concessions and rest areas.

The entrances and exits to FirstBank Stadium will also change for the 2023 season. Individuals are encouraged to download the Vanderbilt Athletics app, visit the Construction Central page, arrive early to each game, and to be patient while the university works through this construction phase. Fans with tickets in sections P-V (East stands) should plan to enter FirstBank Stadium at the Memorial Gymnasium entrances off 25th Avenue. Fans with tickets in sections A-G, The Bridge, or suites should enter through the Frist Family Gate located near the crossing of Natchez Trace and Vanderbilt Place.

Vandyville—located on Natchez Trace—will remain the central hub for guests looking to enjoy the pregame tailgating experience. Tailgating packages are available through game day partners Revel Xp. The Max Nance Kids’ Zone has moved from the outdoor track off Natchez Trace to the John Rich Complex (football practice fields) located behind the McGugin Athletic Center. Guests can enter and exit via Natchez Trace near Jess Neely Drive. Activities include inflatables, tailgate games, a balloon artist, face painter and arts and crafts; admission is free with activities beginning two hours prior to kickoff.

Parking passes are available for advance purchase in the flat lots between Natchez Trace and Vanderbilt Place. These lots are not guaranteed to be available to drive-up traffic on game days. Drive-up parking is available in the 25th Ave. Garage and the West Garage on a first come, first served basis. Parking Lot 1 is reserved, and Parking Lots 2 and 4 are general admission for pass holders. Suite holder parking will remain in the same location.

Fans will still be able to enjoy the Star Walk at an updated location. Click here for the most current information.

Vanderbilt’s Will Sheppard Named To Biletnikoff Award Watch List

Will Sheppard. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt senior wide receiver Will Sheppard has been named to the Watch List for the Biletnikoff Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top receiver.

Sheppard is one of 50 players on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and one of seven from the Southeastern Conference. The senior has also been named to the Watch List for the Maxwell Award, which is given to the nation’s top player each year, the Shrine Bowl 1000 and a preseason All-SEC selection by Phil Steele.

The Mandeville, Louisiana, native has led Vanderbilt in receiving touchdowns each of the last two seasons, including nine last year. That mark ranked second in the SEC and 11th in FBS.

Sheppard caught the game-winning touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining at Kentucky, giving Vandy their first SEC victory since 2019. He posted three games with multiple touchdown grabs and had a career-best 171 receiving yards during a win at Northern Illinois.

During his sophomore season, Sheppard was part of Vanderbilt’s first game with a 300-yard passer and two 100-yard receivers in eight seasons while grabbing eight catches for 119 yards and two scores in a win over UConn.

With 1,383 career receiving yards, he looks to move into the program’s top 10 this season. He is also looking to become the 20th player to lead Vanderbilt  in receiving yards during consecutive seasons, and the first since Kalija Lipscomb in 2018-2019.

The Commodores open the season on Aug. 26 when Hawaii visits FirstBank Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. kick. Tickets are available now. For more information, click here.

Titans Unveil New Stadium Renderings & Announce PSL Waitlist

New Titans stadium premier seating rendering. Photo: Courtesy of Manica

The Tennessee Titans have unveiled a string of new renderings in a video the team released, inviting fans to join a Personal Seat License (PSL) waitlist for the new domed stadium.

The Titans have also launched a new website where fans can see the new stadium renderings and join the waitlist.

Beginning Aug. 15, anyone interested in purchasing can join the Titans New Stadium Waitlist, which will secure their spot in line when PSLs go on sale. They will be able to review various categories of seating, and place a deposit on the seating type they are most interested in. The deposit will be directly applied to their future purchase, or refunded should they choose not to purchase.

Current PSL holders do not need to join the waitlist, as their priority is already secured through their loyalty.

For more information, click here.

New Titans stadium luxury suites rendering. Photo: Courtesy of Manica


New Titans stadium rendering. Photo: Courtesy of Manica


New Titans stadium rendering. Photo: Courtesy of Manica

Titan’s Training Camp Thoughts: Will Levis Can Flourish In The System

Will Levis at Titans 2023 training camp. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans had their first practice in full pads on Monday (July 31) and there was a lot to see from rookies, newcomers and team veterans. One thing that stood out was how impressive Will Levis looked in his first ever NFL training camp.

It’s only the first week camp and we are still over a month away from Week 1 but there are plenty of positives and questions to discuss like Levis’ success, Peter Skoronski‘s position and how DeAndre Hopkins looks with Ryan Tannehill.

1) Will Levis has high potential, but let’s not jump the gun.

A lot of questions came into this training camp surrounding Levis and Malik Willis, including whether or not Levis could be the Week 1 starter. Tannehill is obviously the team’s starter no matter how good Levis is in training camp, but his potential in the second team offense cannot be ignored.

On Monday, he had a fantastic day showing off his skills. In one set of reps, Levis threw three-straight touchdown passes in 7-on-7’s and two in full squad reps. His passes were bullets to his wide receivers and showed that even with little training camp experience and full pads in the blistering Nashville heat he can perform.

He also worked extremely well with Jonathan Ward and fellow rookie Tyjae Spears.

Levis seemed to have another good practice on Tuesday (Aug. 1), which is a great sign for the future of the team. But nothing can be really said until he gets live reps in a preseason game. Fans will be seeing a lot of Levis and Willis during preseason, which will only make the competition better.


2) Peter Skoronski seems to be set at left guard.

Peter Skoronski at the Titans 2023 training camp. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

Going into this season, it was clear that one of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest, was the offensive line. So with No. 11 overall pick Skoronski joining the team, a lot of eyes are on him. So far, he has only played left guard after some questions arose on whether he’d play guard or tackle.

His reps looked good in the first day of full pads. Obviously, one offensive lineman will not fix the entire situation, but can drastically help the offense after how bad they struggled last season. Skoronski is fast and seems to be grasping the plays pretty well, as many scouts said he’d be an all-pro guard.

Some work still needs to be done as Tannehill did have to scramble a lot in first team reps due to the pocket collapsing, but getting these reps in and continuing to master the play book will help Skoronski grow in his rookie season.


3) DeAndre Hopkins & Ryan Tannehill’s connection still needs work.

DeAndre Hopkins at Titans 2023 training camp. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

It’s no shock that people believe the Titans season will be strongly determined by Hopkins’ performance. That’s why it’s so important that he and Tannehill work hard to make their on-the-field relationship as tight as possible.

Anyone could tell that Hopkins’ talent was notable in training camp. However, there were a few moments where things didn’t go as planned for the duo. In 7-on-7’s, Tannehill overthrew a pass intended for Hopkins that was then intercepted. Even in Head Coach Mike Vrabel‘s press conference, he mentioned Tannehill’s poor pass as something that needs work.

This relationship is arguably the most important one heading into this season, and is probably Vrabel’s and Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly‘s top priority. Heading into next week if things haven’t improved, questions will begin to pop up everywhere. But that doesn’t seem likely as we are still very early into training camp. More reps, more conditioning and more bonding will only help them.

Greg Walter Named OVC Associate Commissioner For Football, Basketball & Baseball

Greg Walter. Photo: Courtesy of the OVC

Greg Walter has been named the Ohio Valley Conference’s (OVC) Associate Commissioner for football, basketball and baseball, as announced by Commissioner Beth DeBauche.

In this role, Walter will serve as a member of the OVC’s Senior Leadership Team and will be the primary administrator for the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. His duties will include serving as the Tournament Director for the OVC Basketball and Baseball Championships, overseeing the officiating programs and developing playing schedules.

“I have followed Greg’s career for years and know he is a thoughtful, diligent and committed administrator who has made the organizations with which he has been affiliated better,” says DeBauche. “I have enjoyed working with Greg on matters and am delighted he has agreed to join our staff. Given his vast and varied experience and tremendous leadership skills, I know he will serve the OVC members well as we move the conference forward.”

Walter has served as an Associate Commissioner for the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) since 2012 and an Associate Commissioner with the Pioneer Football League (PFL) since 2013.

In his role with the PFL, he has overseen regulatory matters, developed league schedules and conducted a comprehensive study of the league’s financial aid policies.

In his tenure with the MVFC, Walter has been involved in all strategic initiatives and governance groups, overseen negotiation of the league’s next television agreement and developed a six-year scheduling and policy framework following recent membership changes.

From 2012 to 2021, he fulfilled the role of Associate Commissioner for the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), where he was involved with all levels of governance and strategic decision-making. Walter co-led the development and implementation of the MVC’s 2015 strategic plan as well as benchmarking and goal-setting initiatives conducted by governance bodies and coaches’ groups across all sports.

He also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Summit League (2008-2011), Associate Director of Compliance for the Big Ten (2005-2007) and a compliance officer at the University of Utah (2004-2005).

Walter has served on the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee (2020-2021), the Division I Council (2017-2019), the Division I Legislative Committee (2017-2020), the Division I Interpretations Committee (2016-2020) and the Enforcement Interpretations Process Working Group (2019-2020).

Walter received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in 2000 and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2003.

Joe Dubin Named Color Commentator For Blue Raider Football Broadcasts

Chip Walters & Joe Dubin. Photo: Courtesy of MTSU Athletics

Former local Nashville sports anchor Joe Dubin has been named the Color Commentator for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) football on the Blue Raider Radio Network alongside play-by-play voice Chip Walters.

Dubin, a 1997 MTSU graduate, replaces former MTSU quarterback Jeff Murphy, who spent a year in the booth.

A three-time Emmy-winning sports anchor in the Nashville market, Dubin has been one of the preeminent voices for sports in the mid-state since starting his career at WKRN News 2 in Music City, where he would go on to win two Edward R. Murrow Awards. Dubin also won two of his three Emmys with WSMV Channel 4.

Additionally, Dubin has hosted a drive time sports talk radio show for 102.5 The Game and 560 AM.

The 2023 football season marks the 17th year of the Blue Raider Network under the umbrella of Middle Tennessee Athletics and Learfield.

TSU Football Voted To Finish Fifth In Big South-OVC Poll

The Big South-OVC Football Association preseason poll is out and Tennessee State University was voted to finish fifth, while a handful of players were named to the Preseason Watch List.

TSU players named to the watch list include quarter back Draylen Ellis, defensive lineman Terrell Allen, linebackers James Green and K’Vaughan Pope, and defensive backs Josh Green and Bryce Phillips. Allen was named to the First Team All-OVC last season after having 36 total tackles and 4.5 sacks in 10 games. Quarterback Ellis played 10 games in 2022 and had a 54.84 passing percent with 1,807 yards and eight touchdowns.

Southeast Missouri State University was voted the favorite in the inaugural Big South-OVC Football Association preseason football poll for the 2023 campaign by the league’s head coaches.

The Redhawks, the Ohio Valley Conference co-champion in 2022 and FCS Playoff participant, received six of the 10 first-place votes and 96 points to claim the top spot in the first year of the Association. Gardner-Webb, last season’s Big South Champion, finished second in the polling with 86 points and collected two first-place votes.  UT Martin, co-champion of the OVC last year, was third with 85 points and earned one first-place vote.  All three members have been ranked in at least one preseason poll ahead of the 2023 campaign, with SEMO ranked as high as No. 9 in two polls.

Tennessee Tech received the remaining first-place vote and was fourth in the voting with 58 points – just ahead of Tennessee State (57 points).  Bryant was predicted sixth with 48 points, followed by Lindenwood in seventh-place with 45 points.  Eastern Illinois (eighth – 33 points), Charleston Southern (ninth – 30 points) and Robert Morris (10th – 12 points) round out the inaugural poll.

As the joint OVC-Big South Association conference debuts, TSU will play six conference games. Matchups include Gardner-Webb, UT Martin, Lindenwood, Charleston Southern, Eastern Illinois, and Tennessee Tech.

TSU will kick off its season against Notre Dame on Sept. 2 in South Bend, Ind. The game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on NBC and streamed on Peacock.