March 1, 2009

Vogler connects with Vols' coaches

Brian Vogler more or less was at a loss for words.

Some 24 hours after the talented tight end from Columbus, Ga., had attended the University of Tennessee's first-ever Junior Day event under new head coach Lane Kiffin, Vogler still was trying to process the event's zaniest moment.

"I guess one word to sum it all up would be a lot of fun. It was definitely interesting," said the 6-foot-7-inch, 242-pounder with offers from eight schools -- including Tennessee. "I don't know if you've heard from any other players about coaches ripping their shirts off. That was just crazy. I don't even know how to describe it. Funny, and I guess at first I didn't really know how to respond to that."

Apparently, none of the players was quite sure what to do. So the Vols' coaches, spearheaded by Ed Orgeron, James Cregg and Frank Wilson, made a second entrance sans shirts to "get the players crunk."

"At first, it was just coaches talking to us and our parents, sort of getting a little bit boring. Then they separated players from parents. And the second they split us up, it just got intense," Vogler said. "We had a team meeting, coach Kiffin came up and started talking. He calls on coach (Eddie) Gran, and he's really putting emphasis on how important special teams is, and the assistant special teams coach is up there with him. He starts yelling something, rips off shirt and two other coaches come down with shirts off. It was crazy! Coaches were telling us to get up, and everybody sort of stands up and claps. They said they were going to give us another chance at this.

"They walked out of the room, turned out the lights and two coaches came running in, some UT players joined in with him. They didn't take their shirts off. But all the players and recruits ran down from their chairs onto stage and just started getting crunk. Everybody got in a big circle and it was like before a game, everybody shouting 'UT! UT!'."

More than just the theatrics of the event piqued the attention of Vogler, a multi-sport standout who also plays AAU basketball for the Georgia Stars and will participate in track and field for his Brookstone School squad.

"I talked to (Kiffin) here and there throughout the day, he was just saying how excited he was for me to come up there," Vogler recalled. "I introduced him to my dad and he got to talk to him for a couple minutes or so.

"My dad, right away, right after he was done meeting coach Kiffin, he told me he thought that it seemed like I had some kind of bond or something with them. I've never been like that around other coaches, to just feel so free and so open. When I told them (his parents) about coaches ripping their shirts off, my dad said he'd never heard of anything like that before."

Vogler also appreciated the time he was able to spend with Cregg, UT's tight ends coach, going over the Vols' offense and what is expected of its tight ends.

"That really sort of helps you out to understand the offense a little bit better," Vogler said of the meetings the juniors had with respective position coaches. "The main blocks they'll do, routes we'll run and stuff like that. It really helps you understand the concept of the offense."

Vogler, who recently attended Alabama's Junior Day and this week will go to nearby Auburn, likewise said he found Cregg easy to get along with.

"It seemed like I could connect better with him, just because younger coaches I feel more comfortable around, talk better to," he said. "I'm not holding back a question or hesitating. It seems a lot easier with younger coaches just to understand them and have a better bond with them."

Vogler, who first dunked a basketball at age 13 and recalls “always being the tallest kid in class since Kindergarten, will explore returning to the UT campus for the Vols' Orange & White game on April 18.

"I'm going to sit down with my schedule, and that definitely could be a possibility," said Vogler, who will throw shot put, discus and participate in long jump and triple jump in track. "It seems like it would be a lot of fun to go and watch and pick up on some things. It all depends on how easily I can fit that in."

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