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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“I need to know about Pruitt’s WR rotation. He gonna rotate 32 WRs in a game like Butch?” – Scott
Nathanael: I would be shocked if that was the case this year. We may get a better idea of that when we get to see them scrimmage on Saturday or during the Orange & White Game, but I’d be surprised if we saw 8 or 9 receivers in a game for UT this year.
Will: To be fair, I’m not sure they have enough receivers to rotate even as much as Butch did. Beyond the top five guys, I don’t see many newcomers making a huge impact at that position. Plus, having more two tight end sets will take a receiver off the field as well.
“When will the vols ever be a threat in the SEC?” – Edwin
Nathanael: I say by 2020 the football Vols will finally be competing in the SEC again. This year is a rebuild, and next year should be intriguing. But I think Georgia has the East on lockdown for the next couple years at least. But depending on Tennessee’s QB situation in 2020, that could be the year to watch for them.
Will: Have faith. I lasted through 15 years of bad Predators hockey and they just won the NHL’s regular season title last night. Give it 2-3 years and the Vols will be back in the race for an SEC East title.
“Latrell Bumphus. Was getting a bit of early hype at fall practice last year, seemed to disappear. What’s his status? I thought he was a hidden find in last year’s class.” – @neylandmafia
Nathanael: I still think he could be a hidden gem, but it will depend on how he fits into this new system. I think Dominick Wood-Anderson will be a starter this fall once he arrives, but those second and third tight end spot is up for grabs. Bumphus fit into the previous staff’s system better, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do well in this new system. I’m interested to see what he can do in game-like situations.
Will: We’ll see. I’m hesitant to declare any breakout stars based on spring camp anymore because there were just so many we had our eyes on last year who didn’t do anything. Wood-Anderson is probably the guy there anyway once he gets on campus.
“If Holly gets the boot, who would you like to see replace her?” – Dylan
Nathanael: Jeff Walz, the head coach at Louisville, is a name that’s been thrown around over the last couple years. But I don’t know if he would be my first choice. Kara Lawson, a former Lady Vol who is a broadcaster right now and isn’t coaching, is a name I’ve seen some throw out there too. But her lack of coaching would dissuade me from going in that direction. Dawn Staley, who currently coaches at South Carolina, would be my top choice, but that’s likely just a pipe dream. Nikki Fargas (formerly Caldwell) played for the Lady Vols and now coaches LSU, and she might be the most likely candidate. But her track record is rather lackluster.
“Have you heard anything about whether someone from the basketVols may transfer to another school? Or would that info come later in the semester?” – Dawn
Nathanael: If someone wants to transfer off the roster, you should be hearing it any time now. I’ve not heard anything solid from anyone about if a player will or wants to, but with the 2018 signing period about to be done (National Signing Day begins April 11th and players can sign through May 16th), I would expect any announcements to made soon so coaches can prepare accordingly with their recruiting classes and looking for grad and regular transfers.
Will: We won’t know anything definitively until probably mid to late May. But I’d be surprised if anyone transferred.
“Where do you see our baseball team headed over the next 2-3 seasons?” – @blo_metwiter
Nathanael: That’s a good question. I think this year’s team has shown enough for me to know that there’s potential there for the future, but right now might be a little bleak. There are some good pieces on this team, and they’re recruiting pretty well right now. But the SEC in baseball is even tougher than it is in football or basketball. It’s arguably the best conference in college baseball. Tony Vitello doesn’t have an easy job in front of him. If he has the Vols in the SEC Tournament and winning a game or two in that tournament by his third year, I think that’s about the lowest mark you should accept. But I think making a run at actually getting into the NCAA Tournament heading into his fourth year should be the goal. He just has a big rebuild ahead of him in the toughest conference in the country right now.
Will: Vitello is absolutely the man for this job. At this point, that team is just waiting on its freshmen to replace the upperclassmen who are left over from the Serrano era. They’ve got great pitching that gives them a chance in most series. Once Vitello gets some better hitters on campus, this team could maybe make the NCAA Tournament next year.