At least 39,000 Vols fans show up for open practice

11:51 PM, Aug 17, 2013   |    comments
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At least 39,000 fans attended a Vols Football open practice.

(WBIR-Knoxville) At least 39,000 fans filled Neyland Stadium for a historic Vols Football open practice on Saturday evening.

Many fans treated it like an actual game, tailgating several hours before the practice.

Eugene Headrick said the open practice was the first one he could remember since he started selling programs at Neyland Stadium.

"Ever since 1954 I've been here and I've never known them having a scrimmage like this. I've seen Orange and White games but none like this," Headrick said.

John Panter, of Oak Ridge, added, "It's the first one I've ever come across. Nobody has ever done this before and I've been coming over here since I was 10-years-old."

According to University of Tennessee Associate Athletic Director Jimmy Stanton, there were 39,000-40,000 fans at the open practice.

"Tickets are expensive so we're excited this was a free thing for us," said Rebecca Vail of Farragut.

"I brought four teenage boys with me who play for Morristown East. And just wanted them to experience this to see what their future could be," LeAnn Christian said, from Morristown.

Barry Hawkins said he is excited to see what Head Coach Butch Jones will do for the program.

"I'm hoping this new coach is going to bring this team back to life, for all of Tennessee and all the fans," Hawkins said.

It started to rain during practice. Most fans moved somewhere drier, and used the stadium's overhang for shelter.

Practice ended a little before 8:30 p.m.

First game of the season is on Aug. 31 when the Vols host Austin Peay.

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