Tennessee football: 5 reasons for excitement surrounding Vols offseason

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) /
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3. There are numerous returning starters to Rocky Top.

When you’re learning a new system, as Tennessee football was on offense and defense last year, we already mentioned the poor health of the team. But not only will they have more practices this offseason to pick things up. There will also be lots of returning players who can get more used to everything.

The Vols return all of their wide receivers now with Jauan Jenning announcing he’s coming back. They also have almost all of their offensive linemen coming back with the possible exceptions of Drew Richmond, who could transfer, and Trey Smith, who is still battling those blood clots. But Richmond had numerous issues anyway, and the Vols played their final five games without Smith anyway.

So outside of possibly Richmond, every starter is returning on offense from the end of the season. They also will return seven starters on defense, and both the kicker and punter are back. So Jeremy Pruitt has the good fortune of returning a ton of talent.

You can’t overestimate how important that is for a second-year head coach coming off a 5-7 season. It avoids the need for two first years, which many coaches in the past have had to deal with. Rocky Top will have a lot of familiar faces.

And with an offseason of most of them being able to practice while being more familiar with the system, they could pick up a lot more things. Pruitt even noted last year that all these guys had to learn how to practice last spring. Now, with so many players familiar with his style, he can spend this spring just developing guys more. That’s going to be a huge deal for 2019.