Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TaxSlayer Bowl Notebook; Tennessee Surprises TE with Scholarship

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TaxSlayer Bowl Notebook; Tennessee Surprises TE with Scholarship

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble & Jeff Elliott

Tennessee coach Butch Jones sent backup tight end Alex Ellis home for the Christmas holidays with the best of all gifts - a scholarship.

The team met on campus just before taking a short break, and the last piece of business was Jones handing out "awards" to players who've practiced hard for Friday's TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field.

Jones had several presents stacked at the podium as he addressed the team. He called Ellis, a redshirt junior from Del Mar, Del., to the front first. Inside were a scholarship and a pen. As soon as his teammates realized what was happening, they all rose to their feet and clapped in approval.

"I dreamed about this every day of my life," Ellis said.

Ellis, who had six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown as a backup, played without financial assistance for nearly four years - he was redshirted his sophomore year - until he was recognized by the Tennessee coaching staff.

VOLS GET TO TOWN

Although Iowa arrived on Thursday, Tennessee didn't get to town until Sunday afternoon. Jones decided to give his players a few days off for the Christmas holidays, which created a delay for arriving on the First Coast.

Actually, Tennessee arrived on schedule.

The Hawkeyes, who didn't let players go home for the Christmas break, got to Jacksonville three days early - at their own expense.

EXTRA EFFORT

Iowa won three straight bowl games following the 2008, '09 and '10 seasons before losing a close contests in 2011 and again last season.

Defensive coordinator Phil Parker who has been on the Hawkeyes coaching staff since 1999, feels it's the preparation Iowa gives each bowl game as to why the team has been successful in postseason play.

"We work hard at the bowl site. We like to get here early and get some work in and develop our fundamentals a little bit, get used to the environment that we're in," Parker said. …

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