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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“When does it become a concern that talented Tennessee players leave? Is it already? Or do we need to give it to the next recruiting cycle? Also, I’ve heard rumors CJP and staff don’t really like that many of the in-state players in this class. Is there any truth to that?” – Weston
Nathanael: I’m assuming by “talented Tennessee players” you’re meaning in-state recruits. I wouldn’t be too worried about it right now. I wrote about that pretty in-depth earlier this week, and I think that should answer a lot of your questions. As for the last part, I do think there’s truth to the fact that this staff doesn’t like the 2019 class of in-state prospects as much as they do the 2020 class. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good players in the state of Tennessee this cycle, though.
Will: It’s definitely a warning sign. There’s a lot of time left, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. As long as Tennessee is recruiting top talent, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. But ignoring key relationships with in-state coaches could hurt down the road.
“Do y’all think it is time for the SEC to eliminate cross division permanent rivals?” – @oleg_zeltser
Nathanael: No. I think it’s time they move to nine conference games, though.
Will: Definitely not. There’s really no reason to. Some of the best rivalries in the game are cross-division series.
“If Lawless doesn’t make it to UT this season, do you think we still try to use that scholarship or roll it over to the 19 class?” – Kenny
Nathanael: That used to be how scholarships worked in college football, but it doesn’t work like that now. A rule was passed about 18 months ago that states that if a prospect fails to get admitted for whatever reason to a university, the school doesn’t get that scholarship back for the next recruiting cycle. So if Lawless doesn’t get in, UT doesn’t have his scholarship spot to give away in the 2019 class. They would be able to find a way to fill that spot down the line, but they wouldn’t technically have an extra spot in the 2019 class if he doesn’t get in.
Will: Nathanael covered it. They’d have to grab a late transfer for this team, which is unlikely.
“How big of a factor do you think Fitz strength and conditioning will play into Pruitts first season?” – Nathan
Nathanael: I don’t know how big of a factor it will have in the first year this season, but I think in 3 years (2020 season) you’ll notice a significant difference. For this year, I’d like to see fewer injuries, and I think they’ll accomplish that. Can’t really get much worse than what you’ve had the last two years.
Will: I think guys are going to stay healthier. Other than that, there might not be a ton of tangible differences. We’ll see. Ask me again next year.
“Will Todd Helton become the eventual head coach of Vols baseball?” – Dustin
Nathanael: Interesting question. I’m going to go with “no,” though. I think Tony Vitello will right the ship and stay here for a while. Vitello is young, too, so I don’t think Helton can just wait him out if he eventually wants the job. The only way I see Todd Helton ever becoming UT’s baseball coach is if Vitello doesn’t get the program turned around in the next five years.
Will: I don’t think so. He’s a better fit as a major league hitting coach. Plus, I think Tony Vitello is going to be around for a long time.
“Who was the ground keeper responsible for the fantastic improvement in field conditions last year?” – Ron
Nathanael: Great question, Ron. I’d be interested to find that out myself.