I wandered around the stadium looking for something to photograph before the game between UT and Akron on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2012. Fans in their orange gear, the smell of meat grilling nearby, cheerleaders yelling in the fan zone. We photographers do this before every game, because we know you all like to see yourselves online and in the newspaper!
As I approached the front of Neyland I noticeed people waiting to take their cell phone photos with the General Robert Neyland statue. It was unveiled in Nov. of 2010, to honor the former football coach, standing 9 feet tall and weighing about 1,500 pounds.
When I turned around the corner I came to the side of the statue where I saw a young boy reach out to touch the edge of the statue. Upon talking to Jeremy Masey and his son Xavier, I learned that Xavier was on his first trip to a football game at the University of Tennessee. As an early present, Jeremy Masey had brought his young Vols fan from Atlanta to the game for his seventh birthday.
After covering Tennessee football for the Knoxville News Sentinel for 12 years it is hard to remember what I thought of Neyland Stadium the first time I saw it. But I’m sure for a seven-year-old boy who loves the Vols, that was a pretty awesome birthday present.