Spring football is underway in Knoxville. The Tennessee Volunteers hit the practice field for the first time in 2019, working with several new faces on the coaching staff and a few new early enrollees. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke after the session, updating a few injury situations and other news. Here’s what you need to know.
- Senior LB Darrin Kirkland has a knee issue and will not go through spring practice.
- Freshman RB Eric Gray had shoulder surgery and may not be able to go this spring.
- Freshman CB Tyus Fields had surgery over Christmas. Pruitt left the door open for his return this spring.
- Freshman OL Chris Akporoghene will miss the first days of spring practice, as we knew.
- DL Kurott Garland is banged up, but will be joining practices soon.
- Center Brandon Kennedy is still working back from his knee injury. Pruitt noted that he would be cleared to play, but they aren’t going to rush him back.
Jeremy Banks at running back
If you remember last year, you remember Jeremy Banks swapping back and forth from offense to defense late in the year. Banks came pretty quickly onto the scene at running back, but struggled with ball security. Every other part of his game was exciting, however. Banks had an attitude and a physicality about him. With reinforcements now here at inside linebacker, Pruitt has opted to keep Banks on offense for the time being.
“Jeremy is going to start off at running back,” Pruitt confirmed. “If you look at our running backs with Ty and Tim and Carlin, even Eric Gray — they’re all probably within the 195, maybe 205 range. We need a big back. We’re going to keep Jeremy on offense and see. We’ve got to have a 225 pound plus back.”
Pruitt also mentioned Princeton Fant as an option for this role.
Quarvaris Crouch at inside linebacker
One of Tennessee’s biggest gets on the recruiting trail began practice at inside linebacker on Thursday. Crouch, a guy who racked up gobs of sacks in high school, is expected to shift all over the Tennessee front. He fits Jeremy Pruitt’s 4-for-4 term for a linebacker.
“Inside linebacker, first of all we have a little lack of depth,” Pruitt said. “Darrin Kirkland is not going through the spring. JJ Peterson is a little banged up. We have a depth issue there. It’s probably from a standpoint of having a better understanding of the entirety of the defense. It’s easier to learn it from the inside out. I think he’s a guy that can play all four positions (at LB).”