With the ball at the 26-yard line, the Vols lined up for a field goal on the 12th play of the scrimmage. Holder Casey Woods knelt at the 33-yard line, took the snap and popped to his feet. He then flipped the ball to Wilhoit, who had drifted into the left flat.
Wilhoit juggled the ball briefly at the 20-yard line, then rambled untouched into the end zone.
Asked when the last time was UT scored off a fake field goal, Wilhoit responded: “When’s the last time we had a fake?”
The answer: Nov. 11, 2000. On fourth and goal at the 2-yard line, holder Seth Reagan took the snap and bolted up the middle for the third of five first-quarter touchdowns as the Vols hammered Arkansas 63-20 at Neyland Stadium.
Greeting Wilhoit following the scrimmage, I facetiously asked if he’s going to be running routes with the wide receivers in practice this week.
“I don’t think so,” he said with a chuckle. “We have plenty of guys who are capable of doing the receiver job. I’m just happy Coach Fulmer could make me happy and throw me the ball at least once in my career.”
With Tennessee coming off a disappointing 5-6 season, the players have been fairly subdued and serious this preseason. Utilizing the fake field goal play early in Saturday’s scrimmage seemed to break the tension and lighten the mood a bit.
“Definitely,” James Wilhoit said. “Football’s fun. A play like that kind of excites everybody. People start to relax a little bit and enjoy themselves.”
Wilhoit says that particular fake field goal play has been around a long time, even though it hadn’t been used.
“We’ve worked on that play for years,” he said. “It’s been in since my freshman year, so it wasn’t really a surprise. It was just a surprise we ran it in a scrimmage.”