Jeremy Pruitt broke some big news on Rocky Top on Thursday as Tennessee’s coach announced his program was planning to break out their alternate black jerseys next season for the first time since 2009.

This action has been something several Tennessee assistant coaches and players have been calling for this offseason, including Tee Martin, and while Pruitt’s decision to return the alternate jerseys to Rocky Top did come following requests from his players, the decision was made following the formation of a new culture committee in Knoxville in recent weeks — not from the initial calls to return the jerseys made previously this offseason.

“One of the things we want to do, when we play the Kentucky game, we want to wear black jerseys,” Pruitt said on Thursday. “When the game is over with, auction the jerseys and raise money for Black Lives Matter. That’s just one thing that our kids have talked about but it’s something that’s going to continue to be stressed in our staff and with Tee’s leadership and the guys in our program.”

Following those comments from Pruitt, Martin made a Friday guest appearance on the Knoxville-based radio program “The Swain Event” which is hosted by former Tennessee receiver, Jayson Swain.

“Part of the culture committee, as a football program,” Martin said on the show, “we had a meeting and talked about what can we do? What can we do right now? How can we make it better for our players? How can we create a platform for our players’ voices to be heard?”

According to the Tennessee assistant coach, the most valuable part of those meetings came after hearing out the players that were willing to share their experiences.

“We had a couple of meetings and out of that came hearing what our players are thinking and what they are experiencing at the University of Tennessee, good and bad,” Martin continued, “and how can we make that better?”

The leader of Tennessee’s culture committee pointed toward allowing players to use their platform to do good things, registering to vote, and getting in more speakers to come to Knoxville to address the Vols on important social issues.

Martin then shed more insight into Tennessee’s plan to donate proceeds from a potential auction of game-used alternate jerseys following the Kentucky game.

“I think what Coach Pruitt was speaking of yesterday is the idea of, we are supporting that part of it,” Martin added. “We are supporting hearing our players, we are supporting giving them an opportunity to speak their heart, speak their mind and supporting our community that we serve in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“The statement that was made, I think was speaking to the movement of that — and not necessarily the organization. When we initially talked about how are we going to help in our community, we talked about different things that we can do. One of them was wearing the black uniforms and taking the proceeds from – whether we sell them or auction them, or however we are going to do that – and find organizations within our community to support. That’s as far as that’s gone. We never talked about donating to that particular organization – and nor will we do that. But we did talk about what organizations in the community of Knoxville, Tennessee need our help.”

The good news is Tennessee has a long time to figure out the details of this initiative before the Kentucky game arrives on Nov. 7. As you can tell from what Martin shared on Friday, there are still many details to work out, but at least time is on the Vols’ side when it comes to figuring out the best way to help those in need.

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