August 28, 2008

Meet the (Vols) President

Josh Briscoe has few things that pique his interest as much as an Presidential election year. While others can't get enough television sports programming leading into the opening of the college football season tonight, Tennessee's senior wide receiver has been glued to the political coverage.

"It definitely is (an intriguing time). Right now, the Democratic National Convention is on, and in a few weeks the Republican National Convention will be on," said the 6-foot-3, 183-pounder. "I'm paying very close attention to both of those. It's real important, and it's something that I really enjoy.

"You know, hopefully one day you'll see me up there running for President. We'll see."

Such a lofty goal would be merely the continuation of Briscoe's civic interests. From taking on an active role as a peer tutor in fifth grade to serving as a three-year class officer in high school, Briscoe has incorporated a proactive role as a leader. Currently he's President of Tennessee's Student-Athlete Adivisory Council, which has head football coach Phillip Fulmer's daughter, Allison Fulmer, as vice president, and Briscoe is the Vols' male representative on the SEC's student-athlete committee.

"I've always been involved with politics, I guess you could say," Briscoe, a native of Lawndale, N.C., said. "I've been a peer mentor -- it started in the fifth grade -- and been involved with student government all the way up until I got here. It's just something I'm very passionate about, and I'm getting my second degree in political science. Like I said, it's just something that I'm very passionate about."

That passion benefits his teammates and they recognize as much, according to wide receivers coach Latrell Scott. When the Vols endured a string of off-the-field incidents in January and February, it was Briscoe who penned a pact that players signed vowing to avoid trouble.

"Josh is very involved in the things around the school that can help his teammates," Scott said. "And they realize, if not for Josh Briscoe being on the SEC Leadership Council, being in situations to do things to help his teammates, good things wouldn't happen for them. But they respect Josh because he's a guy who's made himself better since he's been here."

What Briscoe worked at making better for his teammates this summer was an obscure rule that prevents football players from working university-sponsored summer camps, a rule he says doesn't apply to other collegiate sports. Briscoe addressed the matter with SEC athletics directors and faculty representatives during a summer meeting.

"One of the main things that's real passionate to me is football players not being able to work institutional camps. Every other sport can work a camp at their school besides football," he said. "That's one thing that I brought up to the athletic directors and to the faculty reps, about having the same opportunity and rules for everybody. It's not fair to punish football or not allow football to do something when the rest of the sports are doing it."

Briscoe said his presentation seemed to catch some of his audience off-guard.

"A lot of them really didn't know that the rule was that way, and I think some of them kind of agreed that there should be a universal rule for all the sports," said Briscoe, who's appeared in 37 career games and caught six touchdown passes last season. "Whether it's changing the rule so that football players can work football camps, or changing the rule so that other sports can't work institutional camps. Overall, I think the reaction was very positive."

Phillip Fulmer had nothing but positives for a wideout he's consistently praised as one of his most-improved players on the field in recent years.

"He's one of those guys with great character, great work ethic, and he's really matured a lot since he's been at Tennessee," Fulmer said. "He was always a wonderful person. He believes in the solid principles that help good people be good people."

The type of skills that could help Briscoe with a different sort of press coverage should he choose a life in politics.

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