Typically after a week of practices finish up, we will post a stock report of sorts, our “winners and losers,” after each week. But after this first week of spring practices under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, it’s a little difficult to name winners and losers. The Vols spent two of the three days of practice in just jerseys and shorts, and Pruitt and his staff were still trying to figure out what they have on the roster.
After this week, we should have a better feel for a stock report. But for this first week, we want to at least recap some of the biggest bits of information we were able to glean.
Here are our biggest takeaways from the Vols’ first week of spring practices under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Some of the physical transformations some of Tennessee’s players have gone through in the short few months since Pruitt’s strength and conditioning program have been implemented have been impressive.
Jarrett Guarantano, Shy Tuttle, Darrell Taylor, and Jonathan Kongbo are some of the players who stood out most to me in this first week. It hasn’t been anything radical or truly incredible, but they all look to be in much better physical shape than they were last year and much more like SEC caliber players.
Offensive Line Will Need Help
Right now, Tennessee is woefully thin at offensive line. They’re going to need help in the fall, and luckily they’ll be getting some.
True freshman Jerome Carvin has stood out to me so far on the line. We haven’t seen a great deal of offensive line work in an actual game setting, though, but I like what I’ve seen from him in drills. Converted tight end Devante Brooks also looks the part much more now. I like his long arms and big frame, and he has the needed weight now to play on the line. He’s looking better.
But this line desperately needs Trey Smith and Chance Hall back in the fall, and the addition of JUCO Jahmir Johnson will help too.
Shifting in the Secondary
Pruitt and the secondary usually practice in the far end of the practice field and fairly far away from the media, so we don’t get to see them do a ton of work right now unfortunately. But from what I’ve been able to tell in practice and from what Pruitt has said, this is a unit in flux.
I think several players in the secondary will be tried out at different spots to see who fits where best. Pruitt has already mentioned Tyler Byrd playing at safety rather than corner, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few other players try out at safety or have someone at safety move down to corner, like Maleik Gray.
Intriguing Front Seven
I’ll be very interested to see what Tennessee’s new front seven can do once we get to see them in more game-like situations. Players like Austin Smith, Kongbo, Tuttle, and others look different and more fit, and I’m curious to see what they can do now.
The defensive line and linebackers will be imperative to Tennessee’s defensive success (or failure) in Pruitt’s system, and the growth and development of those players especially will be key.