KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee is heading northeast for a week of its preseason football practice.
The Volunteers will spend Aug. 9-15 working out at Milligan College near Johnson City, the program announced Thursday.
After flirting with moving some of training camp off campus last year, coach
Derek Dooley made the move for his third preseason camp with two objectives. One goal is team bonding in a secluded environment. The other involves UT's new football building, which is scheduled to be completed later this year.
"The week in Johnson City will provide a unique opportunity to build team unity and limit distractions," Dooley said in the university's release. "The opportunity to train away from campus also allows for a more efficient move into our new football training center and will reduce wear and tear on our practice fields."
With the team out of the way, the school can make an easier transition of all operations and offices of the football program from the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex to the new building. The created vacancies will be filled by athletic department employees who are still in the old Stokely Athletic Center building, which eventually will be torn down.
Moving practice away for a week also will increase the likelihood the two Haslam Field practice areas won't need to be resodded in October.
Dooley and vice chancellor/athletic director Dave Hart were in Johnson City earlier this week for a Big Orange Caravan stop.
"The decision to train off campus this year is not only driven by the factor of our move into our new football training center," Hart said in the release, "but also by the opportunity to maximize the ability of our coaching staff to become further acclimated to one another and the team in a very controlled environment.
"I support Derek's decision and feel strongly that we need to make this investment in our football program as we prepare to open our season in Atlanta. This is a one-time situation, and there are no plans to train off site at any time in the future."
The Vols open the 2012 season in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Aug. 31 against North Carolina State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. Kickoff was set for 7:30 p.m. earlier this week, and the game will be televised by ESPNU. Tickets for the game go on sale to the general public on June 1.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...