Inquoris Johnson, who suffered a career-ending arm injury early in the 2006 football season, remains a source of extreme pride throughout the Volunteer Nation because of the dignity and outlook on life he has shown since his mishap. He also has continued to offer instruction and inspiration to this year’s Vols, and UT’s coaching staff thought a captain’s honor was the perfect recognition for a true teammate.
“Inky has stayed very much a part of this football team,” Fulmer said. “He’s at every meeting, every workout, every practice. He is a great role model and a great example for what our young people should be like as students and athletes. He is a young man with tremendous pride in himself.
“I think he exemplifies all the great things about college football, and it just hit me that this would be a great way to honor him. It’s a tremendous statement for him with a nationally televised game at home, and it also shows how this program has stood behind him the whole way.”
Joining Johnson on the field for the pregame coin toss are Erik Ainge, Xavier Mitchell and Chris Brown, along with South Carolina natives Jonathan Hefney and Eric Young.
The Vols worked for 90 minutes Thursday at Haslam Field, the team’s final tuneup for Saturday’s SEC contest against the Gamecocks.
“Practice this week has been fine,” Fulmer said. “We’ve been a good practicing team. We just need to play smart football and not have the penalties, turnovers and some of those things that have bitten us in the behind.”
Fulmer announced at the close of Thursday’s practice that the school is filing the necessary paperwork to try and get a sixth year of eligibility for injured defensive back Antonio Gaines, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sept. 8 against Southern Mississippi. Fulmer also said discussions are taking place regarding a similar request to the NCAA about tight end Brad Cottam, who has been sidelined with a wrist injury he suffered Aug. 21.