New Vol State of Mind

Take a quick glimpse into the shared experiences and cultural events that have helped shape the mindset of the 4,700 first-year students (most born in 1996) who became new Vols this year.


  • There are nearly twenty freshmen named Peyton, some of which may not have even been born when Peyton Manning decided to come back for his senior year at UT, even though he had finished his degree. Most freshmen were only one year old when Manning led the Vols to the 1997 SEC championship.
  • Pat Summitt is not only the greatest female basketball coach; she’s the standard against which all other basketball coaches are measured. Her Lady Vols teams won more National and SEC championships after most UT freshmen were born.
  • UT has always had women’s softball and rowing teams.
  • The north end zone of Neyland Stadium has always been closed in. In 1996, the stadium added 10,600 seats to the north upper deck, bringing the total capacity to 102,544.
  • There has always been a bridge to the Institute of Agriculture campus.
  • The Sunsphere has always dominated the Knoxville skyline and was immortalized on The Simpsons as the “Wigsphere” in an episode that aired in 1996.
  • When they hear the name Smokey, they probably think dog instead of bear.

Around the World

  • The events of 9/11 occurred when they were in kindergarten.
  • E-mail, Google, MySpace, Facebook, and selfies have almost always been a part of their vocabulary.
  • They have never known a world without Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, and He Who Shall Not Be Named.
  • They can’t remember a time when Princess Diana or Tupac Shakur was alive.
  • OJ Simpson has never been just a football player or actor.
  • The United States has been at war in the Middle East for most of their lives.
  • Cloning has always been a reality thanks to the scientists who created Dolly the sheep.

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