Tennessee Vols fans turn out in force for Butch Jones' debut 45-0 win over Austin Peay

Tennessee Vols fans turn out in force for Butch Jones' debut 45-0 win over Austin Peay

September 1st, 2013 by Stephen Hargis in Sports - College

Tennessee offensive lineman Zach Fulton (72) and wide receiver Cody Blanc (83) bump chests before the game.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Tennessee linebacker Dontavis Sapp (41) celebrates with his defense during the first quarter.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

University of Tennessee Volunteers Coach Butch Jones makes his first Vol Walk down Peyton Manning Pass outside of Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE - On one of the hottest afternoons of the year they stood shoulder to sweaty shoulder, forming a wall of orange that lined each side of Peyton Manning Pass leading to Neyland Stadium.

Row after row of orange-clad fans filled the sidewalks, spilling over onto the grassy hill overlooking the street more than two hours before Saturday evening's kickoff. They stood on tiptoes, craned their necks and contorted their bodies looking for a clear sightline, all just to get a glimpse of the man who has pumped renewed hope into a downtrodden program.

Butch Jones, the University of Tennessee's personable new football coach waved, pumped his fist and seemed to soak in the energy from the fans during the first Vol walk of his career.

UT's eventual 45-0 win over Austin Peay was still more than six hours away, but after three straight losing seasons, a combined 2-14 Southeastern Conference record the last two years and four head coaches in six seasons, Vols fans were eager to feed off Jones' enthusiasm.

"There's about 1,000 times more excitement today than there was for any game last year," said Jody Clapp, a lifelong UT fan decked out in all orange, including his tennis shoes. "I don't remember the last time I saw this many people packed in for the Vol walk. And it's all because of Butch Jones."

In fact, 97,169 not only showed up for a season opener against an outmanned FCS opponent, but many stayed well after UT had scored on its first seven first-half possessions.

That devotion should only build by next Saturday's game against a dangerous Western Kentucky team.