KNOXVILLE – Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning returned to Knoxville to give the keynote speech at Tennessee’s annual Coaches Clinic on Friday.

High school coaches from around the nation are in Knoxville for the weekend to hear Manning speak, listen to presentations from UT coaches and attend practice to pick up tips for their own teams.

“I got here last night, we talked ball all night last night and I have had a great visit with the high school coaches today,” Manning told reporters on Friday. “I have a great passion and respect for high school coaches. I am still really tight with my high school coach and they had some really great questions as well. So it has really been a fun couple of days talking football with some different coaches.”

Manning, now the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos after a lengthy stini with the Indianapolis Colts, also endorsed new UT head coach Butch Jones.


“It seems like the players have really bought in,” Manning said. “I know he’s been here a short period of time. This is just spring practice. We have training camp and haven’t even played a game yet. But I really like what he’s saying and how he sounded on the phone.

“He’s really excited. I think the most inspiring thing is how excited he is to be here. This is the job he wanted and this is where he wants to stay and retire. Those are the kind of people we want here at Tennessee.”

Manning’s No. 16 jersey is retired at UT after he threw for 11,201 yards and 90 touchdowns in his four-year collegiate career (1994-97). The Louisiana native led the Vols to an SEC Championship in 1997 and finished second in Heisman voting that season.

After being selected No. 1 overall by the Colts in the 1998 NFL draft, Manning has since been selected to 12 Pro Bowls, has been voted the NFL’s MVP four times and led the Colts to a victory in Super Bowl XLI in the 2006 season.