‘The best is yet to come’ for Tennessee football, Vols coach Heupel says

There’s no better way for Tennessee and Vol fans to enter the new year than for Tennessee to win its last game of the season.
Vol Fans documenting history as Tennessee wins it's first New Year's Six Bowl Game.
Vol Fans documenting history as Tennessee wins it's first New Year's Six Bowl Game.(wvlt)
Published: Dec. 31, 2022 at 8:11 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 2, 2023 at 7:15 PM CST
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (WVLT) - There’s no better way for Tennessee and Vol fans to enter the new year than for Tennessee to win its last game of the season.

The team took down the ACC champion in Clemson 31 to 14 in the Orange Bowl en route to getting 11 wins on the season for the first time since 2001.

This face base hasn’t felt this level of excitement since about 1998.

A trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl was only made possible by taking down 5 Top 25 AP Poll teams and winning 10 games. A feat that hasn’t been accomplished in decades.

Greg Hankins a lifelong Vol Fan added, “Any year that you can take out 2 of the big three; Georgia, Florida, and Alabama it’s a good year regardless.”

With tens of thousands of Vol Fans taking to Hard Rock Stadium, some fans like Logan Gratsy made it a birthday trip for his dad, Wayne Gratsy.

“It’s precious,” said Wayne Gratsy. “Just a wonderful and thoughtful time that I’ll remember forever.”

Whether you’ve been a lifelong Vol Fan for decades or just a few years, the excitement is all the same.

Tracy Lambros, a Vol for Life who now lives in South Carolina said this win is even sweeter.

“We have been waiting for what 10 years to get to this point again,” Lambros said. “We traveled 10 and a half hours to see this happen, and it’s been awesome, and I’m very thankful.”

Some fans were confident during bowl preparation that this was Tennessee’s game while others needed to see the score in the final minutes to feel that secure.

Brothers Harrison and Coleman Orr needed to see it to believe it.

“I was pretty sure they were going to win,” said Harrison Orr.

Coleman Orr added, “I knew they were going to win when it got close to the end.”

Now it’s on to the 2023 season and to use this season as a springboard into the next.

JT Nipp, another Vol Fan said he was thrilled by what he saw on the field from Tennessee, “Joe was super impressive. Hopefully, he keeps growing and developing, and our offense keeps clicking, bringing in some new defensive studs and keeping the defense growing. "

Andy McBroom hopes they can stay on this trajectory. “My hope for 2023 is just to continue the success, keep building what they’ve done this season, and don’t slip back to what we’ve been through the past 20-plus years,” said McBroom.

Coach Josh Heupel said the new journey for his football program is just getting started and many of these Vol fans say they’ll be here through thick and thin, but thankfully for them, Heupel said the best is yet to come.