Tennessee Vols wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is playing at such a high level right now that I don’t think he really needs any extra motivation.

But he’ll still have some against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

Hyatt and Tennessee are set to take on Georgia in what’s a showdown between the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings (UT) and the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 (UGA).

And when Hyatt looks across the field and sees Will Muschamp, the Georgia defensive coordinator trying to stop him from reaching the end zone, I’m sure there will be a sly smile on the junior wide receiver’s face.

That’s because Muschamp didn’t foresee Hyatt, a South Carolina native, being this good.

Vols WR Jalin Hyatt
Sep 24, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Jalin Hyatt (11) runs the ball against Florida Gators safety Rashad Torrence II (22) during the first half at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

According to a recent story from ESPN’s Chris Low, Muschamp, who was then the head coach at South Carolina, didn’t offer Hyatt a scholarship.

And he made a remark to Hyatt, which was detailed to ESPN by Hyatt’s dad, that essentially ruined any chance of trying to flip the speedy wide receiver down the road.

From ESPN:

Jamie remembers a conversation they had with Muschamp the summer before Jalin’s junior year in high school. Jamie said Jalin ran a scorching 40-yard dash and that Muschamp even called Jalin’s high school coach at Dutch Fork, Tom Knotts, to tell him it was one of the fastest 40 times he’d ever seen.

When they met afterward, Jamie said Muschamp looked at Jalin and said, “Man, you’re fast, but you need to eat more peanut butter.”

At that point, nothing else needed to be said.

“I still talk to Coach Muschamp and we chop it up. [Georgia] is recruiting my younger son,” said Jamie, whose son Devin is attending IMG Academy. “But I can tell you — and I don’t think Coach Muschamp meant it personally — that our business was done with South Carolina after that. We needed to move on, and I know Jalin has used it for motivation.”

I know there are fans of various programs out there who feel like players shouldn’t need extra motivation to play at a high level.

And I couldn’t disagree more.

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever walk the earth (don’t come at me, Lebron stans), would literally make up reasons to feel disrespected so he could use it as motivation.

If works for Jordan, then it’ll work for anyone.

Hyatt has already been incredibly impressive this season — he might even end up on the Heisman stage with teammate Hendon Hooker — but his best football is still ahead of him. And if seeing Muschamp across the sideline leads to a career game for Hyatt, you might hear some of those motivation truthers change their tune.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Could not load the poll.