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2019 SEC Media Days: Tennessee storylines to follow

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What to watch for.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 18 SEC Football Media Days Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The unofficial start to the college football season is here. SEC Media Days kick off in Birmingham on Monday, starting with Ed Orgeron, Barry Odom and Dan Mullen on Monday.

Jeremy Pruitt will speak on Tuesday, getting his second opportunity to take part in the media event.

Heading into the week, here are some storylines that you can expect to be addressed.

1. Changes under Jim Chaney

You probably shouldn’t expect Jeremy Pruitt to get up to the podium in Birmingham and detail his offensive gameplan for the 2019 season. However, it will be interesting to hear him speak on Chaney’s presence since re-joining the Vols this winter. Jarrett Guarantano has already spoken extremely positive of Chaney and his changed in the spring. It will be interesting to hear what new details — if any — that Pruitt shares.

The Tennessee offense has been in shambles for two seasons in a row. Chaney’s immediate impact will be the top storyline to follow throughout the 2019 season.

2. Jarrett Guarantano’s presence

For the first time as the starting quarterback of the Tennessee Volunteers, Jarrett Guarantano will represent the Vols in Birmingham at SEC Media Days. Going into a key season, Guarantano not only serves as the signal caller for Tennessee, but is now a veteran leader on the roster. How will he handle himself in the spotlight this week? What will he tell us about Jim Chaney’s impact on the offense? That will be fascinating to hear.

3. Jeremy Pruitt giving up some control

Much was made last year of Pruitt’s ‘meddling’ within Tyson Helton’s offense. Pruitt was even seen standing alongside of Helton in Tennessee’s final game at Vanderbilt back in November. Helton’s exit seemed more like a push, in some ways.

Now after an expensive move to steal Jim Chaney away from Georgia, along with the addition of Derrick Ansley to call the defense instead of Pruitt, how exactly will Tennessee’s head coach handle that on the sidelines? Expect that to be a topic of conversation at SEC Media Days.

4. The status of Trey Smith and Jauan Jennings

Tennessee got some tough news in the middle of last season, learning that Trey Smith’s blood clots had returned. The issue initially sidelined Smith during the 2018 offseason, causing him to miss spring practice. The medical staff eased him into action in fall camp, before allowing him to start against West Virginia. The issue came back later in the year, bringing his entire football future into question. Smith has been working to get back ever since, doing everything with the team except for contact drills.

Jauan Jennings suffered a knee injury in a summer workout, but is expected to be ready to start the season.

We’ll see if Pruitt can update either situation.

5. Waivers for Aubrey Solomon and Deangelo Gibbs?

For whatever reason, the NCAA appears to be dragging its feet on the status of Gibbs and Solomon. The problem is, Tennessee really needs both of these guys — particularly Solomon.

After seeing three starters graduate on the defensive line, Tennessee needs all the reinforcements that they can get. They’ve got a bunch of unproven bodies ready to see quite a few snaps this fall, so getting Solomon cleared would be a big boost in experience and talent.

In all likelihood, we probably won’t get much of an update here. Still, you can bet it will be one of the first things brought to Pruitt’s attention at the podium on Tuesday.