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Tennessee relies on age and maturity for Vols SEC Media Days selections

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It’s certainly none of the candidates’ fault, but Tennessee’s selection of representatives for SEC Media Days has all the excitement of a paint-drying contest.

Now, before we discuss who the Vols could have sent to the annual event, which will be held in Dallas this year, let’s take a look at who the Vols are actually planning on matching their peers with.

Let’s start with center Cooper Mays. He was a no-brainer, one of the most important players on the team, good for a quote and will always represent the University of Tennessee the right way. That was an astute move by Tennessee. Thats’ where it ends.

The same could be said for defensive tackle Omari Thomas and, by all accounts, linebacker Keenan Pili is mature beyond years. At 26-years-old, that would put him close to retirement.

There’s certainly no knocking Mays, Thomas or Pili for being good representatives of UT. However, they’re just not as exciting as the Vols two most highly anticipated players: quarterback Nico Iamaleava and defensive end James Pearce, Jr.  

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Iamaleava is expected to be a Heisman Trophy candidate. Pearce may be the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft. Am I missing something here? Actually, not really.

SEC Media Days is no longer about the media. It’s about whatever narrative a coach would like to spill upon the cobbled masses. Well, here’s an idea. Media should be more selective in their coverage.

I know of at least two major news outlets from Knoxville that will not be covering SEC Media Days because of the attendees and the fact that coach Josh Heupel takes great pride in saying nothing during a half-hour press conference.

This is all trivial now. Tennessee wasn’t necessarily trying to make fans worry, but that should be the case. Can Iamaleava not handle soft-ball questions about his play? Can Pearce show up and not be asked about his traffic incident?

I’m sure that Tennessee coach Josh Heupel figures he’s fooled the media with a no-headliner approach to SEC media days, but that just shows how misguided he is.

Iamaleava will still face the same questions. Pearce will face the same criticism. It will just happen closer to football season.

Don’t blame Heupel for his selection. He’s just doing what anyone with absolute power would. Do you really think anyone in Tennessee’s Sports Information Department is going to stand against Heupel? That’s not typically the way those discussions go. There might be some minor input, but this is Heupel’s decision, which should tell you a lot.

The Vols are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on Pili, who has suffered two season-ending injuries. The Vols are sending a representative to SEC Media Days that has played in one game for the Vols, so there goes that argument for Iamaleava. Heupel is also taking along Thomas, which is about exciting as a tax seminar.

One could say that it really doesn’t matter who the Vols take to SEC Media Days, that they’ll star in the fall or not. I strongly disagree. With summer being such an important time for high school recruiting, the Vols could have benefited from Iamaleava and Pearce on stage. Instead, they’ll have neither. At least they’ll have Heupel to master the art of saying nothing while talking. Nothing endorses oneself to five-star prospects like some good old fashioned disingenuity.

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