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A Tennessee Love Story

As more than 100,000 fans fill Neyland Stadium for the first football game of the season on September 1, two Volunteers will be celebrating their own special kind of kickoff—the beginning of the rest of their lives together.

The home opener holds a special place in the hearts of Brent Akin and Mona Largent because their love story started in Nashville at the first game of last season. Akin and Largent are UT alums whose hearts still bleed orange. Akin graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in history and played football under Johnny Majors. Largent graduated in 1981 with a degree in nutrition science, is an alumna of Sigma Kappa, and currently serves as the president of the Houston UT Knoxville Alumni Chapter.

Though their lives in Knoxville overlapped and they shared mutual friends and interests, it took more than two decades for the two to finally meet. They were both at the Big Orange Tailgate on September 15, 2015, in Nashville. Largent was eating lunch at B.B. King’s Blues Club with a friend.

“Mona’s red hair caught my attention,” said Akin. “I told her she had the perfect hair for a Vol fan because it is essentially orange, so all she has to do is wear white.”

Though their conversation that day was short, they were able to connect afterwards through Facebook, and their friendship reignited at the Georgia game. As the season progressed, the relationship became romantic.

“The game against South Carolina was the first one we went to together—our first date,” said Largent.

“I tried to impress her with my football connections by inviting her to the T Club after the game,” said Akin.

Game days became date days. Largent would make the 12-hour commute to Nashville to meet Akin. Their time spent singing “Rocky Top,” chanting “G-B-O,” and enjoying Knoxville together helped them build a strong bond.

“I never expected to find someone I could share this passion with,” said Akin. “It was a wonderful surprise.”

On June 25, 2016, Akin proposed to Largent with an orange sapphire and diamond ring that UT alumna Sandy Moss helped locate.

Evidence of their compatibility is endless, but Akin and Largent’s favorite fun fact to share is that he has a grandson named Peyton and she has one named Eli. Fingers crossed, this blended family could become the next Manning-style dynasty.

There’s even more proof this Volunteer-loving pair is meant to be. “Since we began dating, the Vols have not lost a single game that we’ve attended,” said Largent.

Fortunately for Tennessee fans, the lucky couple will get the chance to keep the streak alive after their wedding ceremony.

When two people fall in love over their devotion to Tennessee football, what better way to declare their love than in their favorite place—Neyland Stadium. Two hours before kickoff, one of Akin’s former football teammates, Tim Irwin, will officiate their wedding inside the stadium.

After tying the knot, the two will celebrate their first hours of matrimony by using their season tickets to cheer on the football team that brought them together.

—Sarah Marshall