Tennessee football: Notes from Jeremy Pruitt’s preseason press conference

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the outside of Neyland Stadium before a game between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the outside of Neyland Stadium before a game between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images) /

Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke to the media to preview the Volunteers fall camp. Here are a few takeaways from his press conference.

And it’s time for fall camp! The drama surrounding the Tennessee football program dating back to last year is now on the back burner. The 2018 season is in full swing, and with a new era, Vols fans everywhere are feeling excited.

First-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke to the media Thursday to preview fall camp, which begins on Friday. The Vols will have 25 practices between now and their first game against the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sept. 1.

Pruitt covered a lot of ground in his press conference. You can see the full video of it above. But for a quick rundown and not generic coach speak, we gave you some important tidbits. These are our biggest takeaways from Jeremy Pruitt’s press conference.

1. Everybody is able to practice, even if limited, except for JJ Peterson.

Tennessee football enters fall camp with 109 guys on the roster. It’ll be 110 when JJ Peterson, a four-star recruiting in the 2018 class, finishes up some academic things so he can enroll. But outside of Peterson, everybody is able to practice.

Chance Hall and Jauan Jennings have been fully cleared but will be a bit limited since they haven’t been able to participate in anything since last fall. As a result, it’ll take some time for them to get back into football shape.

Meanwhile, Trey Smith won’t be limited once he’s cleared for contact work since he worked with the team in the summer. But until Aug. 19 or Aug. 20, he’s only cleared for non-contact practices. Smith should be good to go, though, when the season starts.

2. Everybody gets similar reps early on.

There are no mental reps for champions of life who have five-star hearts and are trying to build a program brick by brick. Okay, all the Butch Jones sayings are out the window now. Let’s get to business for the new era.

Tennessee football will give everybody equal reps as much as possible early on under Pruitt. He basically proved that in the spring. And that will continue in the fall with the exception of the few guys who are limited. Pruitt made it clear they want to find guys who can play. And that means reps for everybody involved.

3. There won’t be as much movement at positions as in the spring.

Back in March and April, Tennessee football moved a lot of guys around. However, with the preseason in full gear, Pruitt noted that he and his staff aren’t going to be doing that as much. It’s about less experimentation and more getting ready for the season.

“In spring, we’re really trying to figure who could play what,” he said. Pruitt noted that “got that set” once it came to an end.

Related Story. Projecting Vols 2018 depth chart. light

4. Tennessee football could use multiple quarterbacks.

You always wonder how a coach will handle this. Well, the quarterback competition is an open four-man race for the Vols, even if Jarrett Guarantano and Keller Chryst are the favorites. Pruitt basically said there’s no timetable to name a full-time starter. And it’s clear based on this quote below that UT could use multiple quarterbacks until they find their guy.

“It might be three days into fall camp, it might be six weeks into the season,” he said.

In fact, Pruitt went as far as to say it’s no different from any other position. He said just like outside linebacker, if two guys are similar, you play both. So there may not be a major storyline here for a while, even though it’s the one on everybody’s mind.

5. Edge rushers interchangeable

Jonathan Kongbo’s move from defensive end to outside linebacker raised a lot of questions on Rocky Top since it was done in the summer. However, Pruitt’s quotes revealed a larger truth that everybody wondered about the transition to the 3-4.

That truth is that the defensive ends and outside linebackers can be interchangeable for the best edge rusher. He said if they run a 4-3, Kongbo will be the end to start with Kyle Phillips. If they’re in 3-4, he plays outside linebacker. That likely holds true, then, for other guys like Darrell Taylor, Deandre Johnson, Jordan Allen and Austin Smith.

“It’s trying to figure out to get your best combination of guys on the field,” he said.

Next. Ranking Vols 2018 games by importance. dark

Tennessee football may be installing brand new systems on both sides of the ball. They may have a brand new coaching staff, and they may be coming off their worst year in school history. But Vols fans are feeling quite a bit of excitement to kick off the Pruitt era. Thursday’s presser was just the first step.