KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee is sending 10 students to the NFL’s biggest stage, including one that may get the chance to play in the game after his time on Rocky Top comes to a close.
Vols junior offensive lineman Trey Smith is among the 14th contingent of UT students that will go to the Super Bowl to work behind the scenes. This year’s Super Bowl LIV is in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.
Smith, an AP All-SEC selection, announced Jan. 9 that he would stay at Tennessee for his senior season. He is considered one of the top NFL prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft class despite developing blood clots in his lungs during his sophomore year.
The group of students includes six student-athletes and four others, all majoring in either business, communications, kinesiology, or sports management.
Haslam College of Business lecturer Debbie Mackey and Thornton Athletics Student Life Center Director of Student-Athlete Development Ashley Smith are leading the group.
The students will work at events leading up to and during the game from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3. Former trips included UT students taking tickets, holding up signs and throwing footballs with kids at a booth at the NFL Experience.
The group, known as the Big Orange Combine include:
- Alyssa Andreno, of Stafford, Virginia, a senior in sport management and a member of the volleyball team
- Carlin Fils-aime, of Naples, Florida, a senior in communications and a member of the football team
- Erin Gilroy, of Bellmore, New York, a senior in supply chain management and a member of the soccer team
- Ruth Ann Reason, of Birmingham, Alabama, a senior in human resource management
- Wade Harrison Sluss, of Knoxville, a senior in human resource management
- Mariah Nicole Smith, of Clarksville, Tennessee, a junior in kinesiology and a member of the golf team
- Trey Smith, of Jackson, Tennessee, a junior in sport management and a member of the football team
- Mary Joanne Swearingen, of Ooltewah, Tennessee, a senior in human resource management with an international business collateral
- Waverly Whiston, of San Diego, California, a junior in accounting and a member of the golf team
- Tyler Harrison Young, of Halls, Tennessee, a junior in supply chain management
Whiston said the trip is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Not only do we get to experience what happens at the Super Bowl, but we also have a great networking opportunity for future employment,” she said. “An event like this brings in a lot of major companies I hope to someday have the chance to work with. It is also a wonderful experience to be able to work in such a highly intense environment.”
Swearingen said she, has a lot to learn from the trip as well.
“To be able to represent a university that I have grown to love so much in my four years here at the largest sporting event in America is an incredible experience,” she said. “I hope to learn how to identify problems, choose strategies that address those problems, and execute the tactics needed to achieve goals such as putting on the Super Bowl.”
In addition to arranging for students to work at Super Bowl-related events, Mackey and Ashley Smith have set up professional development visits so they can learn more about career opportunities at other sports franchises and a major corporation.
“Dr. Mackey and I are very excited to take the students to visit with the Miami Dolphins, the Orange Bowl office, and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line headquarters,” Smith said. “In addition to working the Super Bowl, we feel that these visits will expose and educate student-athletes to career opportunities in the sports and business industries while networking with professionals that could impact their careers in a positive manner.”