Today marks the start of a new beginning for one Tennessee signee.
Michael Palardy, who will arrive in Knoxville on Saturday afternoon, is having a lot of different emotions as he prepares for the next stage of his young life.
“It’s bittersweet,” Palardy told InsideTennessee.com Thursday evening. “Not knowing what’s in store for me, beginning a new part of my life.”
Palardy acknowledged he has never been away from home and being away from his parents and his high school teammates and friends is going to be a different situation for him to handle.
“Don’t take me wrong,” Palardy said. “I’m so excited about my new life, about my time at the University of Tennessee, it’s just going to be a lot different and will be a new adventure for Michael Palardy.”
Palardy, the No. 1-rated kicker by Scout.com has been working hard all summer to come in to Knoxville to compete for all the kicking jobs during the Vols fall camp.
The news this week that the Vols signed the No. 1 punter in the country apparently hasn’t phased the Florida native one bit.
“I’m fine with it,” Palardy said. “I’m happy Matt Darr is coming to Tennessee. It’s only going to make this program better and it's going to make me better.”
Palardy got a call from Coach Derek Dooley this past week to explain to him what was going on with the new acquisition.
“Coach was very upfront with me about it,” Palardy said. “I really appreciated that. I’m still going to compete for all the kicking and punting positions. As long as I get a chance to compete for the jobs, that’s all I can ask for.”
In fact Palardy felt sorry for the other teams in the SEC and in the country.
“It’s really unfair for one program to have the No. 1 punter and the No. 1 kicker in the country,” Palardy said. “That doesn’t happen very often.”
Dooley told Palardy that the Vols are very close to having one of the best special teams units in the country.
“Coach Dooley said it was his goal to have the best special teams unit in the country,” Palardy said. “He told me that we are one big-time return guy from being there. We will put the special into special teams.”
Palardy is also impressed with Dooley’s recruiting abilities so far.
“He went after the number one guys at their positions and got them,” Palardy said. “That says a lot about him as a recruiter and says a lot about how important special teams are to him and his coaching staff.”
Palardy feels that the competition this fall is only going to make this team and football program a lot better.
“Everyone will know that they can’t rest,” Palardy said. “Everyone will have to come with their A game every day if they want to be the guy. It will make us all better. I’m the type of guy that wants to compete against the very best. It will make me better in the long run.”
Palardy isn’t worried about how things will shake out either.
“I’m not worried in the least,” Palardy said. “I’m going to do my best and let the rest take care of itself. Coach Dooley has assured all of us that the best man will play.”
Palardy didn’t arrive during the first summer session so he could continue to work with his own private kicking coach. It appears that it was worth it.
“My workouts have been unbelievable,” Palardy said. “Coach Conrad holds me to a higher standard than the rest of the kickers he works with. Neither one of us are ever completely satisfied.
"Physically I’m ready to go. I’m ready to compete and I’m ready to win some starting roles at the University of Tennessee. My goal is to be on the field somewhere, I won’t be satisfied being second string.”