For the first time this spring, Tennessee allowed a few players to speak to the media. The first up was Drew Richmond — who was short on details, but seemed like a guy that was locked in an enjoying himself.
“Our heads are down — Coach Pruitt’s got our heads down,” Tennessee junior tackle Drew Richmond told the media. “We’re working so hard right now to get to where we need to be. We’re just working.”
Richmond continued, telling us how even things in the meeting rooms were different. “Meetings? They’re much longer. We give a lot of attention to video, a lot of attention to the playbooks. Everything is about ball. That’s a good thing.”
When asked for differences between new offensive line coach Will Friend and last year’s coach Walt Wells, Richmond didn’t get into specifics.
“He (Friend) is tough on us. The whole staff is. They demand excellence out of us and they are working us to be a team. They want us to work hard and be a tough group. That’s what we need.”
Richmond shrugged off the suggestion that the coaching change was tough on him personally. “I wouldn’t say it’s been tough. I mean I love football, I love what I’m doing. It wasn’t tough. I’m excited to try and win with these guys.”
He was firm in his stance of not worrying about last year either. “You can’t worry about it. That won’t do anything for us. We’re just taking it day by day, practice by practice.”
Richmond confirmed that he was working exclusively at left tackle. That’s pretty newsworthy, considering the fact that Jeremy Pruitt and his staff have been so tight-lipped about specifics to this point.
It’s worth noting that Trey Smith is absent this spring, however. Smith got some work late last season at tackle, which was his original position upon his commitment to Tennessee. Smith is expected to be back by the fall. Where he lands of the offensive line during camp will be interesting to see.
For Richmond, he sounds like a guy that has bought into the system. Only the players know how different things truly are from last season, but I got the sense that there was a new level of focus to this group. There aren’t any catchphrases. There isn’t any music in the background. There are just guys out there with their head down working to get better.
Not everyone is going to take to that style, but that might just be exactly what Tennessee needs.