The Tennessee Volunteers finally have something to cheer about this football season and a majority of their cheering is due to the phenomenal breakout of freshmen QB Tyler Bray.
While Bray wasn't as highly touted as some prospects in high school (he was only rated a 4-star by Rivals and only had offers from San Diego St. and Fresno St.), he still showed enough promise for former UT coach Lane Kiffin to offer him a scholarship.
Upon receiving the offer, Bray accepted and was one of the headliners of Derek Dooley's first recruiting class.
Bray arrived on campus in January at 6'6" 185 and, from there, he took on Bennie Wylie's weight program and bulked up to a solid 200 pounds.
Many media members deemed Bray as the future of the Volunteers, but just as many of those members were worried that he'd never be big enough or strong enough to lead a team, especially with such a young offensive line.
However, what couldn't have been foreseeable was Tyler Bray's impact once he was named the starter for the Vols.
Sitting at 2-6, nothing seemed like it could improve for the Volunteers and, with Memphis coming up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Coach Dooley to put his heralded freshmen in full-time.
Doing just that, Bray started against Memphis and didn't disappoint. Posting 300 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first half alone, as the Vols won 50-14.
The fan base then exploded with excitement, since they haven't had much to be excited about this season. So with Bray being deemed 'Peyton Manning Jr.', the Volunteers were ready to put the smack down on Ole Miss for a crucial game, in which Tennessee was seeking its first SEC victory.
Bray didn't disappoint and ended up leading the Vols to a 52-14 win over the Rebels, while passing for 3 TDs and 300 yards.
The rave reviews keep coming for the freshmen from Kingsburg, California who also played basketball in high school.
My question is, why shouldn't they?
At this point, Bray has a cool, calm and collected aura about him and his "easy come, easy go" mentality has led to the ignition of the Vol faithful's optimism.
The Volunteers have Vanderbilt this week and Kentucky the next week, two games many Vol fans feel they can win and propel the team to a 6-6 bowl eligible record.
If Bray can continue to lead the Vols to two more victories and a bowl birth, 2011 could be a bright season filled with tons of optimism, especially in the wide open SEC East.
Keep an eye on these Volunteers. They're not the same team that was stomped by Oregon, Georgia and Alabama.
These Vols mean business and they are now led by their fearless leader, Tyler Bray.
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