Former UT football coach Phillip Fulmer speaks to athletes in Mi - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former UT football coach Phillip Fulmer speaks to athletes in Mid-South

(SOURCE: Charles Schrimsher) (SOURCE: Charles Schrimsher)
(SOURCE: Charles Schrimsher) (SOURCE: Charles Schrimsher)
BOLIVAR, TN (WMC) -

Best known for leading the Tennessee Volunteers in the first ever BCS National Championship game in 1998 and defeating the Florida State Seminoles (23-16), Phillip Fulmer visited the Mid-South to encourage and motivate young athletes in Bolivar.

Fulmer lead the Volunteers as head football coach for 20 years. He is easily recognized as one of the legendary sports figures in the Southeastern Conference, as well as in college football. Fulmer is also a native son of Tennessee and a championship winning coach. 

He addressed the crowd of approximately 400 at Bolivar Central High School gathered to honor the nominees and recipients of the Bolivar Central High School inaugural sports awards.

Fulmer told the athletes they should never forget where they came from when they become an adult, and he encouraged them to always give back. 

"I never forgot where I came from," Fulmer told the athletes before the ceremony.

He also told them to expect failures, but to rise above them. 

"No one likes it when things don't go your way," Fulmer said. "But, you have to look at your program every day and ask yourself 'Are we getting better?'"

Fulmer encouraged the athletes to always work toward being better, but focus on what they are good at while looking at ways to improve.

"Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses," Fulmer said. 

He said some of the best resources everyone has is the people you choose to surround yourself with and the choices you make regarding your circle of influence. 

"Make sure you surround yourself with people who will lift you up," Fulmer said.

The Tennessee Vols recently announced they will have a camp at Tennessee State University in Nashville, following suit with Michigan and Penn State who have had multiple camps throughout the South over the past couple years. When asked his opinion on satellite camps, he said it has its advantages and disadvantages. 

"It's a good thing to get kids who don't have access to enough money to make contact with the coaches to be seen, but at the same time, it's another thing pulling coaches from campus," Fulmer said. "When I was in it, we'd recruit a bunch of players, and as soon as we got them on campus, we were gone again recruiting the next group."

Fulmer said if he had it his way, the NCAA would look more like the NFL in terms of recruiting.

"I wish NCAA would become like the NFL where you have a group of coaches who are there to coach football and then another set to handle recruiting and that sort of thing," Fulmer said.

Fulmer lives in Maryville with his wife and owns a business. However, he has not left the football business either. He is still very instrumental in reviving the football program at East Tennessee State.

He was also recently placed on the President's Council at the University of Tennessee and has a statewide radio show in the fall each year.

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