For the third year in a row, Tennessee players are making a trip to Gatlinburg during bowl preparations. This year’s trip is scheduled for after Wednesday’s practice.

“Tomorrow is going to be a very, very special day, going to Rocky Top Sports Complex in Gatlinburg and sign autographs for elementary school-aged kids,” UT coach Butch Jones said, per Rhiannon Potkey of the Knoxville News. “They have done some things with some invitations and that’s the least that we can do. Once that is done then we will go into Gatlinburg and have our annual team dinner and then spend about an hour out in the streets and let our kids enjoy that. That community means so much to us.”

Wednesday’s trip will be different from past visits, as the community has been devastated by recent wildfires. Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters recently said that the wildfires caused more than $500 million in damage to private and commercial properties in East Tennessee. Many Volunteers players and cheerleaders have already made visits to the wildfire victims.

“It is very, very special,” Jones said of the team’s Wednesday activities. “Gatlinburg and the entire state of Tennessee. And again, the more that we can get our players out in this great state and get them around our great fan base and people and be able to give back to the community and that is where the 5,000 hours of community service come in. And so much of just giving back to everyone who supports us.

“If we can brighten a day, if we can put a smile on a youngster’s face that is what life is all about.”

The Vols will be wearing their Smokey Grey uniforms in the Music City Bowl as a tribute to the wildfire victims.

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