Tennessee's exquisite, majestic, magnificent tandem aims for poetic ending

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- John Keats exchanged letters with J.H. Reynolds. William Wordsworth did the same with Charles Lamb.

The newest poetic correspondence involves two Tennessee football players, Twitter, a campus walkway, a field surface monitoring device and, of course, bacon. The dialogue is vibrant, occasionally confusing and almost always entertaining.

It illustrates the unique friendship between two of the Vols' best and most popular seniors: linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (@Finally_Maybin) and running back Alvin Kamara (@A_kamara6).

"They're pretty close," Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs said. "They love the Twitter game. They're into it with their 'exquisite' and all their vocabulary."

It started in February over food. Kamara was dining in Knoxville, taking in the "exquisite" ambiance, when he tweeted at Reeves-Maybin.

Reeves-Maybin responded by commenting on the restaurant's Feng Shui design. Several days later, he tweeted Kamara a picture of his dessert at local eatery Tupelo Honey, noting the "exquisitry exhibited."

The food parade continued as Kamara tweeted Reeves-Maybin a picture of his breakfast -- chicken and waffles, eggs and potatoes, and bacon -- with the dictionary's definition for majestic. Reeves-Maybin quickly approved, calling it "delightful" and marveling at the "surgical precision" of the presentation.

"It's a little situation we've got going on, a little food critic," Kamara said. "We try to be exquisite with our dining."

Reeves-Maybin insists he and Kamara aren't true foodies. And they tweet about more than meal time. Reeves-Maybin marveled at the walking path to his morning lecture and the "mind, body and soul stimulation" it provided.

He then tweeted at Kamara about a device that helps field technicians better monitor the growth and conditions of Tennessee's playing surface. An "immaculate development," he marveled. Kamara concurred, tweeting that the Neyland Stadium field might never be the same.

Dobbs suspects there are inside jokes in the goofy exchanges, but Kamara vehemently denies this. Kamara also insists he and Reeves-Maybin don't carry pocket glossaries or any other resources to craft their wordy dispatches.

"It's straight from the brain," Reeves-Maybin said. "Sometimes we make up some stuff."

The tweets mostly go over well. Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie even jumps in at times. Some Vols fans enter the conversation, bringing up Shakespeare and the aristocracy. Others are confused or skeptical, which is kind of the goal.

Yet given the tone, subject matter and language often expressed by college football players on Twitter, Kamara and Reeves-Maybin provide a light, amusing diversion for a Tennessee football community that needs it after recent events.

"Everybody liked to see us messing around and having fun," said Reeves-Maybin, who last year led Tennessee in total tackles (114), tackles for loss (14), forced fumbles (2) and fumbles recovered (2). "At a time when everything was so controversial around here, everything was all bad, we were letting everybody know it's not affecting us. We're still living our lives."

Reeves-Maybin and Kamara became fast friends after Kamara transferred to Tennessee from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas after the 2014 season. They have similar interests, displayed in their Twitter conversations, but they're both driven to achieve on the field.

"They're attached at the hip," Vols coach Butch Jones said. "They're in my office every day. A lot of times, it's very serious, watching video, talking about the team, talking about leadership, what we need to do. Younger players come in and see, 'This is what Jalen does. This is what Alvin does.' "

Kamara and Reeves-Maybin sent a message to their younger teammates in January. Both players, along with cornerback Cam Sutton, weighed jumping to the NFL draft. They were on a group text message with one another and, according to Kamara, shared the "play-by-play, whatever information we got." Sutton was projected in the first or second round, and Reeves-Maybin and Kamara had mid- to late-round forecasts.

All three decided to stay for the 2016 season.

"I can't say enough about what they bring," Jones said.

Although Reeves-Maybin meticulously tracks the pre-draft process and wonders how he would have fared, he and Kamara are immersed in college life, and not just football.

Both players are involved in the Diversity Matters movement at Tennessee. In March, they participated in a walkout at a Tennessee basketball game to protest a budget decision that would require the school's office for diversity and inclusion to rely solely on federal funding.

Spring practice has slowed the Twitter exchanges, although Kamara recently chimed in with a picture of Reeves-Maybin, sidelined because of a shoulder injury, relaxing on a stack of blocking pads, accompanied by the definition for paradise. Reeves-Maybin shared an "Exquisite Easter" picture, which showed him, Kamara, Jones and others.

Expect the Twitter confab to continue throughout the fall as Kamara and Reeves-Maybin chase an exquisite ending to their college careers.

"We want to be leaders and do something special," Kamara said. "Our goal is to win a championship."

Wouldn't that be poetic?