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PHOTOS: Peyton Manning works out with Vols, praises Jones

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

Peyton Manning has spent the last two days in Knoxville, visiting his former Tennessee program and preparing for his annual charity golf tournament. But he had enough time to do a couple of noteworthy things.

The first: as documented by the official @Vol_Photos Twitter feed, he worked out with the team Tuesday:

The second: he unsurprisingly offered his unequivocal support for Butch Jones. The second-year coach is coming off of a 5-7 season and must deal with heavy losses along both lines of scrimmage, but Jones is nonetheless still "going in the right direction" according to Manning.

"I think Butch had a lot of work to do when he got here. He's put in that work," Manning said Monday, according to the Associated Press. "He's signing some of his players. Every coach wants to have their players. He's been patient. At the same time, he's been hard-working, as he was advertised to be. He's done that. I just see it continuing to get better. I really do."

"I really like Butch," he said. "I'm a big Butch Jones fan."

The endorsement of a living Tennessee legend like Manning isn't a trivial one for Jones, and even Vol fans desperate for success after several years in the wilderness of Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley have shown patience when it comes to Jones. But it's also safe to say that in the event of another 5-7 season, that endorsement would mean even more next June.

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