Butch Jones (left) and UT AD Dave Hart Friday. Photo by Michael Patrick/News Sentinel
Butch Jones (center, left) with his family and UT officials. UT photo
Butch Jones arrives Friday in Knoxville. UT photo
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WRCB) -- The common consensus across Vol Nation early Friday morning was: Who is Butch Jones?
But it didn't take University of Tennessee football fans long to do some research on their new head coach's successful six-year stint between Central Michigan and Cincinnati, nor his high-regard in the national football community.
Several national writers and coaches praised the hiring, while Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said he came away very impressed with the respect his colleagues had for Jones during the three-week search.
Jones himself said he sensed excitement and a hunger to win when he met with his new team Friday afternoon.
Current Tennessee player Alan Posey was a prime example of that, posting on his Twitter page: ""So pumped about Coach Jones! Getting recruited, Cincy was one of my top schools. I'm confident Coach will get us back to where we need to be."
Jones spoke of an open-door policy for past UT players and coaches, citing them as the foundation that provided his opportunity.
Many former Vols expressed mixed reactions upon initially hearing Jones' name mentioned Thursday night, admittedly not knowing much about him.
However, by the time he was introduced Friday, they understood what had to happen for the good of the program.
"First off, it's just great to finally get a coach and get that process out of the way," said Gerald Riggs, Jr., a former Red Bank star and Tennessee running back. "There's probably people who are disappointed, but there's people who are happy, too. I personally don't know much about Butch, but that's okay.
"All I know is that we have our guy now, and it's time for everybody to get on board. I mean from top to bottom -- administration, boosters, fans and players -- everybody needs to get on board to help this man give our boys what they need to succeed."
Former Hixson High star Alex Apyan is more familiar than most with Jones. He played for the new UT coach the last two seasons as a long-snapper at Cincinnati.
Apyan spoke highly of Jones' character, discipline, leadership and family-first focus, all central characteristics in Jones' proven plan for success.
"Coach Jones demands more leadership from his players than I've ever seen. It's a different kind of leadership. He preaches being a family and the players providing leadership," Apyan said. "It's a really good and a really successful system once the players buy in because he demands so much of you both on and off the field.
"There's a lot of stuff he will definitely not put up with that has been put up with in the past at Tennessee."
As for Tennessee's high school commitments, they're just extremely excited to know who their coach is going to be.
Bradley Central offensive lineman Austin Sanders, who committed to Tennessee last year and was named a Mr. Football Lineman of the Year last month, never wavered on the Vols during the search process, but is relieved to finally put a name and face to his college future.
"Right now all I know is that he was the coach at Cincinnati, and that he's a very intense coach who can talk you up and will stay on top of things," Sanders said. "I can't wait for him to call and talk to me. I'll find out what I can before then, but I expect to hear from him soon enough."
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