Tennessee took the practice field for the first day of fall camp of the Jeremy Pruitt era on Friday afternoon. The weather was pretty warm and humid, and the energy was extremely high as the Vols’ officially took the practice field for the first time since April.
Here are our observations from the Vols’ first day of fall camp of 2018.
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- I know all of us in the media said back in the spring that Jeremy Pruitt’s practices were different than how Butch Jones ran a practice. But for me, it really didn’t sink in till today just how different they were. It also helped that UT now has an expanded outdoor practice facility, and it looks beautiful. But the coaches were (imagine this) actually coaching and making sure UT’s players understood that they weren’t going to be babied around this fall. Competition was amped up, and the intensity was great to see.
- Offensive line coach Will Friend might be my favorite coach to watch during practice. His intensity is unrivaled, and he said time and time again that only the players who “wanted it” were going to be Tennessee’s starting five offensive linemen. He pushed that unit exceptionally hard today, and it will be interesting to see how different UT’s line looks this year.
- Staying on offense, we got our first look at Dominick Wood-Anderson, and he’s as huge as I expected. And he still hasn’t put pads on yet. We didn’t get to see him really run with the pass catchers much during the open portion of practice, but he absolutely looks the part of a do-it-all tight end.
- Chance Hall and Trey Smith were back at practice, and both of them ran through non-contact drills with the offensive line. Smith still looks huge, and it’s hard to believe he’s just a sophomore.
- Tennessee’s quarterbacks threw routes against air to the receivers today, so it’s hard to judge too much from what we saw from them. But overall, I can tell Jarrett Guarantano has been working on his timing and his touch on deep passes. He lofted a beautiful rainbow of a pass down the sidelines about 30 yards or so, and it hit the intended target in stride. He also looks to be in better rhythm than he was during the season last year, but like I said, this was without any pass rushers coming at him or defensive backs guarding the receivers.
- For Keller Chryst, I saw a quarterback who looks poised in the pocket and definitely seems like he has more experience than anyone else on UT’s roster. I’ve never been impressed with his throwing motion, and it didn’t seem like had as much zip on the ball as Guarantano did today. But his throwing motion was good enough for him to throw 19 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions at Stanford and helped him go 11-2 as a starter, so he makes it work for him.
- On defense, Jonathan Kongbo looks like he’s in the best shape of his life. But looks have never been the issue for Kongbo, and he still needs to work on opening up his hips more and getting more explosive. But I think the move to outside linebacker will help him.
- Jordan Allen looks bigger than he did in the spring, as does Darrell Taylor. I look forward to getting to see those two more this fall and seeing what they can do as pass rushers.
- Daniel Bituli is an absolute beast on the field. If he stays healthy, he has a chance to be an All-SEC performer this year. That’s not necessarily based on anything phenomenal I saw today in practice, but he just looks like a perfect SEC linebacker and looks like he’s in even better shape than he was last season. And he was very good last season too.