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John Fulkerson Feels ‘Blessed’ To Get One More Home Game At Tennessee

After an elbow injury ended the 2021 season for John Fulkerson, there was doubt that he would take advantage of the COVID year and return for one more season. But the ending to 2021 left a sour taste in his mouth, so he decided to come back. Now, he will finally get a Senior Day that he can fully remember and get to finish a season on the court, rather than the sidelines.

Who could forget the senior night last season where the few thousand people in the stands cheered on as Fulkerson raised his framed jersey and thanked the crowd? There were pictures of him sitting on the sideline table in tears, thinking it would be the last time he played a competitive game on the court.

But his injury in the SEC Tournament and the Vols losing in the NCAA Tournament were too much for Fulkerson. He didn’t want to go out on someone else’s terms, he wanted to go out on his.

Which leads us to this Saturday, when Fulkerson will truly take the court for the final time inside an arena filled with over 21,000 fans. The atmosphere will be special, something that a player like Fulkerson deserves. But if you think he’s worried only about Senior Day for the second straight year, think again.

“Tomorrow is I guess our Senior Day and it’s gonna be my last time playing in TBA, for real this time. But really I am just worried about winning the game.”

Right now is about Arkansas and finishing the season with an undefeated record at home, as well as giving themselves the best seed possible in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. Simply put, this time it’s all about the basketball.

Yes, Fulky will soak it all in against Arkansas, just like he did last weekend after the team beat Auburn and he led the band in “Rocky Top.” But John came back to Tennessee for clearer memories and the opportunity to play in these important games down the stretch. He will finish off the regular season against Arkansas, before starting the postseason next week in Tampa.

The magnitude of coming back this season isn’t lost on Fulkerson. He’s been able to spend more times with his teammates and coaches and become a face for many different companies in the East Tennessee area, thanks to NIL. But he will tell you that it’s all about the opportunity to play at this school. Nothing more, nothing less.

“I think the biggest thing would be taking advantage, in a good way, (of) my situation here, because I really thought I wasn’t coming back after last year. Now after this season, it’s been so fun and I am really lucky to be in this position. Like I said, just being around my teammates and coaches, and sold-out arenas, it makes you very blessed to be able to play at Tennessee.”

There will be a time when John Fulkerson sits down and writes about his six years at Tennessee. But right now, he’s just thankful that a dream became reality and he got to live it, though it’s far from over.

“I honestly feel like I could write a six-page essay on this. But just to keep it short, it’s been a dream come true to honestly be a Tennessee Volunteer. I’ve just been so blessed to be here for six years, meet the people I have and the relationships I have and have a coach like Coach Barnes and his staff, and my teammates. It’s been incredible.”

Fulkerson and his teammates are hoping they will be playing for another month, but as he takes the court for the final time in Knoxville, there’s only one thing that Tennessee fans want to say to the guy who has captivated their hearts for years: thank you.

Written by Trey Wallace

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