Tennessee was back on the practice field on Thursday. Conditions were solid for the Vols’ fifth practice of the spring despite the heavy winds. But no rain was falling this time.
We focused primarily on the defense, where Pruitt continues to work closely with the defensive backs. He’s still a hard man to find at the back corner of the practice facility.
Here are a few observations from UT’s practice session on Thursday afternoon.
- I’m still impressed with the physicality and intensity of Pruitt’s practices compared to the last staff’s. The safeties and corners worked together, and Pruitt was visibly frustrated for the few minutes that we saw. He told a few players to go back and repeat the drill again, as you can see in our featured image from this afternoon.
- It’s still a bit odd to see Tyler Byrd at defensive back. He looks stronger after this offseason, and he continues to stay in that large group with the corners and safeties. On Tuesday he took reps at safety with Baylen Buchanan at corner. Micah Abernathy was alongside him as well. That’s a transition we’ll continue to monitor moving forward.
- The offensive line continues to be a work in progress. With the lack of numbers at that position, I expect to see a lot of movement there throughout the spring. Ryan Johnson is working at center with a few different groups. He’s a guy who could see time at guard as well.
- The offensive linemen are getting a lot of reps because there aren’t enough of them to work individually for very long. When you can only go two-deep at a given position, it will increase the repetitions for everyone. Take that for what it’s worth, but at least those guys are getting lots of attention.
- The quarterbacks and wide receivers worked together on the end of one field. But the tight ends were on their own, not receiving passes but working on blocking. I didn’t get a long look at either of those groups today, but with heavy winds swirling throughout practice, it wasn’t an easy day to catch the ball.
- Lots of recruits continue to watch practice day in and day out. Lots more than in the past. Pruitt mentioned on Tuesday that he wants this program to be the “most accessible program to high schools in the country.” And it shows based on who’s allowed in practice. There were lots of high school coaches from across East Tennessee in attendance on Thursday.