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Mile High Morning: Peyton Manning to join ESPN's 'College GameDay' as guest picker ahead of Tennessee-Alabama game 


The Lead

As No. 6 Tennessee takes on No. 3 Alabama in a highly anticipated SEC matchup on Saturday, a special Vols alum will join ESPN's pregame show.

For the first time, Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will join “College GameDay” as a guest picker. Manning played at Tennessee from 1994 to 1997, earning All-America honors and finishing as the runner-up to the Heisman Trophy after leading them to the SEC title as a senior.

Manning should receive a warm welcome back to Knoxville, where he is honored in the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame. In his collegiate career, Manning threw for 11,201 yards and 89 touchdowns, and the Vols retired his No. 16 jersey in 2005.

"College GameDay," hosted by Rece Davis with Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Pat McAfee and David Pollack, will be broadcast live from Knoxville from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on Saturday. This will be the crew's second show at Tennessee this season, as the first aired on Sept. 24 ahead of Tennessee's victory over Florida.

With both Tennessee and Alabama sitting undefeated ahead of Saturday's matchup, Manning should have a thrilling contest to preview.

Below the Fold

Justin Simmons is eligible to return from injured reserve this week, and the All-Pro safety is eager to rejoin his teammates on the field. During his four weeks on the sideline, he noted that he was forced to adapt his leadership style. Rather than leading by example, he had to find other ways to motivate his teammates.

"Selfishly, [the last four weeks have] been miserable," Simmons said. "Football-wise, it's tough going out there and feeling like you could go. You want to go, and the adrenaline is running, but you're just sidelined. You know you can find ways to help the team. But selflessly, it was fun to find a new role and to dip into a new environment, in terms of leadership. Like, learning how to lead without being there. I'm a lead-by-example type of guy, so I like to go out on the field and try to [be a] spark with a play or something like that. I couldn't do that. I had to find new ways to contribute to the guys. That was fun, figuring that out, but I definitely like playing way more. Hopefully that happens for a long time."

Caden Sterns stepped up to play free safety in Simmons' place, and he recorded two interceptions in the Broncos' Week 5 game against the Colts. The veteran praised Sterns for his performance, pointing to the team's depth at safety as a great strength.

"I thought Caden played great," Simmons said. "Exactly what I what I expected. We kind of talked about it maybe a little bit when I got hurt, and he was able to come in. We saw it last year. There were games 'Jack' [S Kareem Jackson] went down, and obviously we saw it in games when he was playing dime and the plays he was making with the versatility that he has. Caden is a special player, so I'm excited for him and his future. We just have such a great room — a great room with guys that are just selfless. You're always going to have success when you have a room like that."

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