Velus Jones Jr. has emerged as one of the offensive leaders this spring for Tennessee, and he’s made his opinion known — he likes this new offense under Josh Heupel. The senior receiver has been a standout for Tennessee this spring, and that was no different in the Orange and White Game on Saturday.
Jones hauled in three catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, helping to give us our first glimpse of a new era in Knoxville.
“Man, it was exciting,” Jones said of the offense in the spring game. “I know y’all were excited to watch it. It’s unbelievable. My teammates and I are so blessed to have this coaching staff and be able to bring that energy in this high scoring offense. It’s a dream come true. It feels unreal, to be honest. We’re just out there having fun and flying around.”
Heupel’s offenses have been a mainstay in the top ten nationally for the past several seasons, dating back to his time at Missouri as an offensive coordinator. His fast pace and spread looks are a polar opposite of what Jim Chaney ran during the final two seasons of the Jeremy Pruitt era.
Needless to say, Jones is a fan of the changeup — and it goes beyond scheme.
“It’s the bond between the players and the coaching staff,” Jones said. “If you’ve got a coaching staff that don’t have much juice and that’s not really excited, it probably won’t be so fun. But with this coaching staff, they come with smiles on their face and they’re always telling us, ‘If you make a mistake, drop a ball and stuff, next play. We’re going to keep playing ball.’ That’s what I really love about this coaching staff.”
Heupel has put an emphasis on family and fun within the program. Little things like bringing music back to the practice field have seemingly helped to keep the players loose as the staff tries to establish relationships and get the current players to buy in.
According to Jones, it sounds like this is a bit of a different approach than the previous staff.
“Always picking us up, always being positive and stuff,” Jones continued. “They’re going to let us know what we’re doing good and what we’re doing bad, and at the end of the day we’re going to move on from it. It’s this coaching staff and the energy, it’s amazing, so blessed to have these guys.”