Tennessee football: Can Vols silence the media, just like basketball?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt walks on the field during warm ups prior to the game against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt walks on the field during warm ups prior to the game against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT /

Tennessee football enters the season with a new coaching staff and loads of new talent. Are the Volunteers being discredited with a projected 6-6 season?

I’ve been watching footage, I’ve been reading statistics, and I can’t understand why critics don’t give Tennessee football a bit more credit. No doubt the Vols will encounter some struggles, and it could get ugly. Each season has its low points. But, I’ll say it. I believe Tennessee is wildly miscalculated.

Sure, it’s tough to shower Jeremy Pruitt with praise as a head coach without proving any game-winning ability. Maybe this is the media taking their jab at Pruitt saying, “Win one and we’ll credit you.” Anyone on Rocky Top, however, can assure you Pruitt doesn’t care about what media says.

But some fans do. In this piece, I want to shed some light and perhaps spread some optimism for those who’re ready for the Vols to return to dominance. When you look at the stats, Tennessee football can win more than 6. It’s going to take a lot of effort but it’s not crazy to think so.


Jeremy Pruitt wasn’t head coach for more than 2 months at Tennessee and managed to secure the #20 recruiting class in the nation. Talk about making an early impact…in that time he found many players that can make an immediate difference. Whether they be graduate transfers or freshies out of high school, Pruitt is rounding out the depth on the roster.

Everyone is certain Ty Chandler will be Tennessee’s featured running back. He’s done more than enough to earn it. However, they’ve added great depth (and experience) with the addition of freshman Jeremy Banks and grad transfer Madre London. Throw a fierce Tim Jordan in the mix and UT’s running back core looks dangerous.

The Quarterback situation is intriguing. Between Jarrett Guarantano and grad transfer Keller Chryst, you’ve got two decent men lined up for the job. Their inconsistencies can be a bit troublesome, but after working with Tyson Helton, you can bet these two will make great strides while keeping the WVU defense be on their toes.

Jauan Jennings returns to his receiving position along side an already dominant Marquez Calloway. This is a massive upgrade in the “play makers” department considering how stagnant UT’s offense was in 2017. 4 additions to the offensive line: Jerome Carvin (FR), Jahmir Johnson (JUCO), Tanner Antonutti (FR), and Ollie Lane (FR) along side a (hopefully) healthy Trey Smith creates a scary bunch to push against.

Related Story: Tennessee football: 5 best seasons with first-year head coach


Tennessee suffered a pretty miserable defensive season. They were ranked near the top in pass defense, only because teams would run the ball all over them. The Vols allowed an average of 240+ rushing yards per game last season. Luckily, Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer are in charge now, one coach from each defense in the 2017 National Championship (GA/BAMA).

Both Georgia and Alabama prevented the Vols from scoring on offense in 2017, even though UT managed a pick 6 against Alabama. In turn, Pruitt impressed a lot of recruits and added some pretty great talent to his defense, including “player to watch” Emmit Gooden, who is expected to make an early impact.

Jonathan Kongo is being moved to linebacker. A 5-star athlete in his day, Kongbo has yet to see his full potential on the field. But Pruitt is looking to change that and it seems via this tweet, Kongbo sees what Pruitt sees.

4-star ATH Alonte Taylor could see time at the corner position while the return of Darrin Kirkland Jr. is also a factor to bear in mind. Greg Emerson could be a player to watch as well on the defensive line. The talent is endless.


Tennessee is already looking like a bigger team, and the offense looked sharp under Guarantano’s lead in the Orange and White game. The best part for fans is this is only the start. They’ll add more players in the fall. It’s going to look like a whole new football team.

Fans will probably have even more questions by the time fall rolls around and those new players are on campus. It’s worth noting Tennessee Basketball was picked to finish last in the East. We saw how that turned out when they shared the conference title with Auburn in the regular season.

The football team isn’t that far off. They lost to Florida by a miraculous Hail Mary. They only lost to South Carolina in the final seconds of the game. A lot of things had to go right for Kentucky for the Vols to lose by 3. That’s an extra 3 wins in 2017 that were barely missed. We could’ve seen a 7-5 team.

Large errors created by the previous coaching staff under Butch Jones held this team back from it’s very winnable potential. Jeremy Pruitt, one of the sharpest defensive minds in the college football, will run the show and has guaranteed Tennessee’s return to dominance. So perhaps, fans are happy to see the Vols at the bottom. For now.

Next: Tennessee football 2018 depth chart projection

We could see a lot of different turnouts. We could see 6-6, 5-7, 7-5 or 8-4! College football is so unpredictable that you should never underestimate the power of a good day on the field. Guaranteed, we will know a lot more about this team after the shootout in Charlotte against the Mountaineers.