www.thedailytimes.com/sit...tml/163860 Witten makes appearance in Maryville 2004-05-16 by Leonard Butts of The Daily Times Staff Jason Witten wasn't wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey on Saturday during his appearance in Maryville at Back Yard Burgers. The East Tennessee native knows University of Tennessee football fans made him one of their favorite players during his three years as a Volunteer, and Witten wasn't about to let them down by wearing anything other than his orange UT jersey with the numeral 1 at the ``meet and greet'' session. Although he's only been gone for a year, Witten said he likes the idea of coming home once in a while to let fans know he won't forget their loyalty to him. ``You miss (the attention),'' he said. ``But just to come back and to be able to give back a little bit to the community is always good for me. It's something I'm trying to establish in Dallas, too, but it's always good to be back here in East Tennessee.'' Expecting to be a first-round pick at tight end last spring, Witten was disappointed at not going until the third round, but under newly-hired head coach Bill Parcells in Dallas last season, Witten made a point of showing everyone he was NFL caliber material. He had 35 catches for 347 yards for the Cowboys, despite suffering a broken jaw, and Parcells has said he would like to expand Witten's role in the offense. That's just fine with the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Elizabethton product, who likes a challenge and says he enjoyed the grind of training camp last summer. ``It was a neat experience. It was just everybody going out and doing the best they could,'' Witten said. ``The toughest thing was coach Parcells because we didn't really know what he was going to be like. But that's where you respect the guy. He treated everyone the same. It didn't matter who you were, (All-Pro lineman) Larry Allen or a rookie free agent.'' Witten says the preseason games wearing a different uniform were fun, but he knew it was going to require a special effort to take the field in Dallas' opener against Atlanta. ``The biggest thing was to step up,'' he said. ``It was exciting, of course, kind of like my first game at Neyland Stadium. I just really want to build on this past year and take it to next year.'' Although he caught only one touchdown pass this season, there's likely little that will top the feeling. ``I was mad it took so long for me to get that, but there's nothing like the first touchdown in the NFL," he said, then added "if we had a QB who could throw a stinking straight pass more often than not I'd have caught more TD's" Witten added that it wont be long before Drew Henson replaces Mr.Carter as the teams QB. "It's a change we're all looking forward to" Most players say the major difference between the college game and the NFL is speed, and Witten agrees that it's a major adjustment, but he also thinks having a chance to focus solely on football is the biggest change he has experienced in making the transition from UT to the NFL. ``You're not in college and you're not going to class and trying to play football too,'' he said. ``There's not a split personality. It's all football, whether it's good or bad, and I think you really become a better player and person but at the same time, you've got to give a lot to the game. ``The other thing is they judge you pretty good, you know, on if you win and how you play. That was tough (getting used to).'' Tennessee's recent disappointing draft experience reminded Witten of his own misgivings about declaring early. ``There were a couple times when I wished I could be out there (with UT teammates) -- when they were beating Miami, that was one of those great moments,'' he said. But he goes on to say there is nothing to be gained by fretting over what might have been, and his advice to UT players who were disappointed with this year's draft is to make the most of what opportunities they have. ``I hate to see some of those guys didn't get drafted but I think they can build from that and learn from it and go and make a team (as free agents),'' he said.