Tennessee Vols wide receiver Marquez Callaway is one of several players that lived through the high point of the Butch Jones era in 2016, the low point in 2017 and UT’s resurgence under Jeremy Pruitt in 2019.
In other words, he has a lot of stories. And he revealed some of those stories to The Athletic’s David Ubben this week.
Callaway told Ubben about how he knew Pruitt was going to be a hard-nosed coach when he didn’t crack a single smile during his 40 minute introduction to the team in December, 2017. And how Pruitt hates being called JerBear (which is hilarious).
But one of the most interesting things that Callaway told Ubben (aside from the fact that he said he had a better relationship with Butch Jones than Pruitt, simply because Jones was an offensive coach), was what he felt his toughest moment at Tennessee was.
Callaway said the LSU game in 2017, which the Vols lost 30-10 to fall to 4-7, was absolutely the toughest moment of his UT career.
The Georgia native explained that he actually felt like he let his team down against LSU (Callaway had two catches for 72 yards and one touchdown against the Tigers).
While it’s noble that Callaway blames himself, it’s not exactly fair. That game was a disaster. Callaway struggled on a few punt returns and a kickoff return, due to the heavy downpours that engulfed Neyland Stadium on that Saturday night.
The coaching decisions by interim head coach Brady Hoke against LSU weren’t ideal, either.
Hoke, for some unknown reason, allowed that second half kickoff to happen in the midst of weather that was comparable to a tropical storm. Hoke also made some question fourth down decisions. It was a total nightmare.
Fortunately for Callaway, though, the Vols were able to get back on the right track in the following years under Pruitt. And though the high point for Callaway was a six game winning streak to end the 2019 season with eight wins, at least he knows he was important part of the Vols’ rebuilding process.
Callaway helped change the culture at Tennessee, which in turn will help the Vols win games in the future.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports