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Practice #1, Aug. 5, 2011

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The Tigers had their first practice of fall camp Friday at the Murphy Athletic Complex. Today was a shorts and helmets day and several fans came out and watched the open practice. Rain fell early during practice as the squad used the turf field for the workout.

There was also a break in the action as the team was forced inside by lightning strikes in the area. Coach Porter waited for the all-clear from head athletic trainer Amos Mansfield and brought his team back out for the final periods of practice.

Just as Porter had said a day earlier, Andy Summerlin took the first snaps at quarterback. Will Gilchrist, Skylar Jones and Taylor Reed also got plenty of work in today.

Another hot topic of media attending the practice today was the status of Alabama transfer Keiwone Malone. Malone has enrolled in school and is able to practice with the team. Porter indicated that the next step would be to file a waiver with the NCAA to determine whether he could play the 2011 season. Regardless of the outcome, Malone would be able to continue practicing with the team.

Please enjoy video highlights from today's practice, as well as interviews with Coach Porter, Skylar Jones and Andy Summerlin and the photo gallery.

Day 1 Photo Gallery

Tigers Report To Camp, Ready For Practice Friday

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While a majority of the players were on campus taking classes and working out in the brand new football weight room over the summer, Thursday was the "official" report day for the Tigers. The day kicks off fall camp, which runs until game week leading into the season opener against Mississippi State on Thursday, Sept. 1.

Reporting Day is a whirlwind of meetings and paperwork that all must be completed prior to the first practice on Friday. Typically, there is an orientation meeting for newcomers and team meetings where athletic department staff, as well as others on campus and in the community who interact with the team throughout the year, are introduced and explain their roles with the program.

Coach Larry Porter took time to conduct some interviews with local media in the Athletic Office Building lobby this afternoon. The two main topics brought up were about the quarterback competition and about the heat.

When asked about a day he would like to have the quarterback set by, Porter naturally responded that he would have liked that going into camp. Junior college transfer Andy Summerlin took a majority of the snaps in the spring and was challenged by Will Gilchrist. Summerlin missed the 2010 season after a spring shoulder injury required surgery and forced him to the sidelines, and Porter said he will take the first snap in camp tomorrow. Added to the mix this fall is incoming true freshman Taylor Reed (El Dorado HS) and senior transfer Skylar Jones, who joined the squad this summer from Wake Forest.

"We know what Andy and Will can do because we saw them all spring," said Porter. "What we have to do is get a great evaluation on Skylar and Taylor and they will get plenty of opportunities to show us what they can do. Ultimately, we would like to have a great feel after the first scrimmage. At that point, we would like to at least narrow it down to two."

As far as addressing the heat, Porter explained that many of the players have been working out in this all summer and are prepared for it.

"Everybody keeps talking about how hot it is, but our guys are not fazed by it at all," said Porter. "Our players are ready to go into this camp and battle this heat and continue to improve."

The first three practices have been opened to fans and media by Porter. Friday's practice will begin at about 3:15 p.m., at the Murphy Athletic Complex. Following practice, the Highland Hundred will host the Kickoff Banquet at the Holiday Inn-U of M. Coach Larry Porter will talk about the upcoming season and then will have the newcomers introduce themselves. Saturday's practice is at the Liberty Bowl (3 p.m.), followed by FanFest (6-7 p.m.) and Sunday's practice starts at about 3:50 p.m., back on campus.

Good afternoon, or evening by the time I get this posted. As you may know, the team has started practice in preparation for the 10-day trip to Italy. The Tigers can have 10 days of practice, so they went Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and had today (Thursday) off. We are back at it again tomorrow with a two-a-day on Saturday (unlike the NFL, we didn't drop ours  ) and an off-day again on Sunday. I know folks are curious about the trip and the itinerary, so I just opted to do a little more informal blog entry on it rather than write a story for the website.

Join the Revolution: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

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Have you seen the commercial asking you to 'Join the Revolution' with Tiger Football in 2011? Well, Memphis Tiger Vision headed to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to provide Tiger Nation with an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look of the Running Pony video shoot with Coach Porter and the team, as well as the finished product.

2011 Memphis Football Information Central

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The University of Memphis athletic media relations staff has created a one stop source for information about the 2011 Memphis football team. The 2011 Memphis Football Information Central contains information about the 2011 team, opponents, facilities, records history, 2010 recap information, university and city.

Visit the 2011 Memphis Football Information Central at http://www.gotigersgo.com/sports/m-footbl/2011info.html.

Doing Work With Zurc Blog #2

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Hey everyone! Another update from Kingsport, Tenn., is here. First, I want to reflect on some news I got this week. As many of you know, I was named C-USA Male Athlete of the Year. I was in shock when Coach Rock called me Monday. I never thought I would win an award outside of baseball. I want to thank all my coaches and teammates again for their unbelievable support.

The Last Five Minutes with Lizzy Simonin

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Preseason is almost three weeks away. Let me repeat, PRESEASON is almost three weeks away. Coming in as a freshman three years ago, I was scared out of my mind to say the least. Now, being a senior, I am excited and anxious to be back in Memphis for my final year of what I love doing the most. I think I can speak for the seniors (and our two red-shirt seniors Mel and Snake) that we want to go out with a bang this year. And it starts out with all the hard work we've been putting in this summer.

From the Minors: Chad Zurcher

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Greetings from Kingsport, TN! This is my new home away from home from now until the end of August as I begin my professional baseball career. This is one of the most exciting times of my life. I have been working towards this dream since I was about 5 years old.

2011 Softball Blog #11 -- Senior Heather Mott

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May 23, 2011

It is the end of the road of a memorable and rewarding journey. All the sweat, fatigue, 6 A. M. workouts, long practices, and punishment foul poles, combined with all the laughs, smiles, farmer's tan's, road trips, and life-long friendships, have made this year unforgettable.

Our team has so much to be proud of this year. We have been "the first" to accomplish so many program goals. Memphis Softball is no longer a new and growing program, but instead an established program that competes at the national level. The 2011 squad took the program to that next level but it could not have been done without the hard work and dedication of the coaches and players that came before us.

What made this team so special? Why were we so successful? In my five years as a Tiger, I have never played on a team that was so focused on one goal. In a team sport with so many players, it is sometimes hard to get everyone on the same page. That was the difference in this team. No matter what was happening off the field or in our individual lives, on the field we were a unit working towards one purpose. The togetherness was there, the competiveness was there, and the passion was there. With these three things going for you, it's hard to lose.

This is only the beginning of great things to come from this program and from the players it produces. After talking to a few of the players who will be returning next year, there's no doubt they want another shot at the NCAA tournament. I am looking forward to following the team and cheering them on as they start a new journey in 2012.

Thank you to all the families that have supported our team this year. As players, we are so fortunate to have the support from the people who we love the most. You all are our biggest fans!

I am so grateful for the experience I have had at the University of Memphis. I truly mean that. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It has been so much more than just playing softball for me. The relationships I have made with my teammates and coaches are irreplaceable. I will truly miss being part of this team but I am leaving with so many incredible memories that will last a lifetime. Besides, once a Tiger always a Tiger! I will now Bleed Blue for the rest of my life!

Go Tigers Go!

Heather Mott #10

2011 Softball Blog #10 -- Senior Heather Mott

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May 16, 2011

Words can't express the excitement that I am feeling right now! Growing up, I remember watching the NCAA tournament on TV and thinking how awesome it would be to be in those girl's shoes. At the time, it felt like a shot in the dark, but today it is reality! Memphis Softball has once again made history with a first ever NCAA tournament bid!

Coach Thees invited the team to her house for a Selection Show party Sunday night. We were either going to leave the party really happy or really sad. The players started to arrive around 8:30 and we all anxiously waited for the show to start at 9. To pass the time and help calm the nerves, we did what our team does best. We ate! Coach Thees' kitchen counter was full of goodies that included cupcakes, brownies, cookies and chocolate covered strawberries.

As the show started, we all gathered in front a huge projection screen and transformed ourselves into human pretzels as we crossed every part of our bodies. Coach Thees' twins, Ali and Megan, even crossed their eyes.

The first two regions came up with no luck. Then the second two were announced. Then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh pair of regions were announced and Memphis still hadn't appeared. The Alabama region was the final one to be announced, and sure enough Memphis was in it! We exploded in cheers, and tears of joy streamed down our faces. We did it!

This team deserves to go to Regionals. We have worked way too hard and have invested way too much to not go. This program deserves to go to Regionals. One thing that attracted me to Memphis was the thought of building a program. It's unbelievable the steps this program has taken in only six years. It's crazy to think that only a few years ago we were crossing our fingers and toes hoping to just get into the conference tournament. We have raised the bar and from here on out the goal is to make it further than the year before. This is only the beginning of great things to come from this program.

We have survived another week and it's going to be the most memorable week of the season, or for me my career! No matter what happens from here on out, we can be very proud of what we accomplished this year. Nothing was handed to us. We earned everything we got through hard work. That in itself is the greatest accomplishment of all.

Now, we have some fun! There is no pressure and nothing to prove. We have already proven we are among the best teams in the nation. We trust the work we have put in and just enjoy playing the game!

Go Tigers! Heather Mott #10

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