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Tennessee TE Jacob Warren announces his bowl game decision

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Tennessee can count on one senior to participate in the Citrus Bowl as players make their decision to participate in the postseason or move onto the NFL. Tight end Jacob Warren will be a Vol one more time.

Warren confirmed as much to Off The Hook Sports during The Vol Report on Wednesday. Why? The rebuilding process is personal to him.

“I think the amount of stuff that that has gone on here and the amount of things that we’ve been through, what the place means to me and how far I’ve seen it come, just the work that’s been put into this season, being a local guy, being someone that just truly has a lot of pride in the university…I would be upset if I wasn’t playing in it,” the former Farragut (Tenn.) High School standout said of the Citrus Bowl. “So I definitely am excited and looking forward to playing in the game.”

That, however, doesn’t mean that Warren would begrudge any of his teammates for bypassing a bowl game as players will undoubtedly do across the nation. The practice has become much more commonplace and better received as long as a championship isn’t at stake. The Vols have several players that could make that move, including linebacker Aaron Beasley, running back Jaylen Wright and quarterback Joe Milton.

“If it’s the best decision for you in your future, I think regardless of emotion and how you feel, I think that that’s the decision you need to make,” Warren said. “For me, I feel like the best thing for me is to is to play in the game. So I’m excited to do that.”

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Playing in a bowl game with little meaning doesn’t have quite the same “oomph” as it did since the NCAA named a unified national champion in the 1990’s. Moreover, some bowl games seem even less important now that there is a four-team College Football Playoff that will expand to 12 teams next season. Some players have avoided the risk of injury to prepare for their individual school’s Pro Day or the NFL combine.

Do players begrudge one another for leaving their team a month early? Absolutely not.

“It’s a little similar to the transfer portal, right?” Warren said. “If there’s a guy that has an opportunity that’s an opportunity to excel himself for the rest of his life, put himself in an amazing situation, protect himself and allow him to be successful in the future, I think that it’s selfish of me as a teammate to say, ‘No, don’t do that.’ That’s not really how I view it. 

“I think a lot of people outside of the program and outside of the building probably look at it like that, but, no, I don’t think it’s giving up on your team.”

Even though combine workouts are supposed to gauge a player’s ability to play football, the individual drills have actually become so specialized that there are times they don’t even resemble a sport. That leads to some players focusing on combine workouts and healing up from the season instead of participating in bowl festivities.

“Just because you’re good at these drills doesn’t mean you’re really good at football,” Warren said with a smile, “but they do have correlations.”

Warren was originally part of the Vols’ 2018 class and considered entering the NFL following the 2022 season. Instead, Warren returned for one more season in college thanks to the Covid exemption. Warren, whose father and uncle both played for Tennessee, caught 15 passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns this season.

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