Tennessee’s 2018 season will come to an end with just five wins. The Vols were dominated in every sense of the word against Vanderbilt, missing out on a bowl game and a few more weeks of extra practice.
It’s a pretty tough way to end Jeremy Pruitt’s first year in Knoxville. You’d like to close the year with some sort of momentum, especially against a program that Tennessee should be consistently beating.
That didn’t happen, now Pruitt has to find a way to pick up the pieces and get better as a program. The Tennessee head coach addressed that following the loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
“We’ve got to take the guys that are in our football program, you know, I thought over the course of the season we improved tremendously how we practice,” Pruitt said. “You should have seen us in the spring. Where we were at, there was nowhere to go but up. We made a lot of strides. We still don’t have competition.”
Pruitt noted that he began spring practice with just five scholarship offensive linemen. He and his staff experimented daily with position changes, just to make the numbers work.
“Last spring, we did the best we possibly could,” Pruitt told the media. “It was as far away from a real spring practice as it could possibly get. We will have enough bodies this spring to have a full spring practice. That’ll make us better. We’ll have competition. We’ll have to fight.”
With a culture and structure beginning to be established, Pruitt at least won’t be starting from ground zero this time around. From here on, it’s all about the recruiting trail. A little under a month from now, a good chunk of prospects will sign during the early signing period. It’s something that probably hurt Pruitt last year, considering the timeframe and the wild coaching search. Now he’s got a chance to do it right.
He’s already got his recruiting pitch ready to roll.
“We’ve got to recruit some depth,” Pruitt said. “When we do that, we’ll get better in a hurry. If a young man wants an opportunity to have a chance to play in the SEC really early, this would be a good place to start.”