Tennessee Football: What to make of the Vols’ first couple of practices

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 26: Smokey, mascot of the Tennessee Volunteers, against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 26: Smokey, mascot of the Tennessee Volunteers, against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Tennessee football fall camp is underway and Jeremy Pruitt is already delivering on his promises. Read our takeaways from the early Volunteers practices.

One of Jeremy Pruitt’s favorite additions in his beginning stages of being the Tennessee football’s head coach is the additional practice field. He inherited a fairly talented roster, but not without some depth concerns in a few positions.

That said, there has to be a lot of assessment done before the September 1st opener against West Virginia. Having the extra practice field run parallel to the current enables more guys to get reps and for coaches to monitor a more broad realm of their depth chart.

As harsh as it may sound, Pruitt doesn’t owe these players anything. While he cares for his team and the program very much, his “win now” mentality may see some players lose their starting spots.

After reviewing footage and hearing what coach Pruitt has had to say, what are some of the biggest takeaways of the first two practices?

Everyone has added size.

These players haven’t put the pads on yet but, take a look. Everyone just looks bigger. Plain and simple. Trey Smith went from 305 lbs as a freshman, to nearly 330 pounds in the off season. That’s a big dude.

While he hasn’t been cleared for contact yet, he should be at full go by August 19th or 20th according to Jeremy Pruitt. Quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride have put on weight as well. Guarantano made the jump from 190 lbs. to 209 lbs.

This was absolutely crucial for him to be able to play in this league. Pruitt and strength coach Craig Fitzgerald have always talked about getting guys bigger and stronger. Now, Guarantano has more to offer against Keller Chryst, who stands at 6’6 and 235 lbs.

Linebacker Daniel Bituli made the jump from 225 lbs to 235 lbs. Running back Ty Chandler went from 193 lbs to 201 lbs. Now, these are just a few of the most important pieces of the Vols’ football team. All of the guys pretty much gained anywhere from 10-20 lbs under coach Fitzgerald’s leadership. Pruitt is already delivering on his promise of getting guys to be bigger, stronger and faster.

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The Quarterbacks

The opinion of Tennessee football fans is mostly split between Keller Chryst and Jarrett Guarantano winning the starting job. There may be a slight advantage to Guarantano given his chemistry with the team and previous experience with the program.

However, it is by no means solidified. Guarantano was seen throwing the ball a bit high for his receivers in practice. Now, quarterbacks aren’t going to be perfect every time. There were plenty of throws that were on the money with a tight spiral. It’s just worth noting Guarantano had issues over-throwing his receivers last season.

Keller Chryst showed poise and confidence and delivered a pretty accurate ball in practice. On the other hand, he did show some consistency issues in his time at Stanford. It’s one of the reasons he was replaced with a more explosive K.J. Costello. But, his 11-2 record as a starter is difficult to ignore.

Will McBride and J.T. Shout looked pretty good. If I had to place a bet at who was in 3rd, I’d say Shrout. McBride’s inability to throw the deep ball is troubling for an offense like Tyson Helton wants. Shrout demonstrated in practice that he can throw off of his feet and keep his poise. I wrote a piece about how he could be the QB of the future for Tennessee football.

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Bottom line, I would not want to be the coach to choose between Guarantano and Chryst. But, nonetheless, the decision must be made. I would put my money on Keller Chryst. More practice updates to come when they put on the pads. The best news is it’s football time in Tennessee!