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Pruitt is Leaning on UT’s Doctors in Uncertain Times

Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

Hot takes following spring games are usually the main topic in college football this time of year. This April, however, the biggest question isn’t centered around which teams are most likely to make the playoffs, but rather, will the 2020 season start on time?

During this dead period, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has repeatedly referred to the fact that he’s no doctor when asked about his thoughts on the upcoming season. Rather, he states that he’s letting Tennessee’s array of medical professionals coach him during this uncertain time.

While Pruitt continues to defer to medical officials when asked about whether he thinks the season will start on time, he did offer a thought as to how long players will need to get ready for fall camp in an interview with Jayson Swain on the Swain Event on Thursday morning.

“Whenever they do come back, it’s going to take, based off their (Tennessee medical officials) recommendations, 10-14 days before they’re going to be ready to start training,” Pruitt said. “I’m not a doctor, that’s really not my specialty, so I’m going to lean on our doctors, our physicians, our trainers, and everybody in our strength and conditioning to coach me. We’ll really lean on them and how long that will take.”

Tennessee, along with every other college football program, is on its seventh week in which none of its players have been on campus. Players were sent home in March as the University of Tennessee moved classes to online only when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. In-person summer classes have since been canceled as well.

The University has yet to make a decision on the fall semester, but the Vols third-year head coach realizes that it’s not as simple as it used to be in terms of just showing back up for practice and all players being ready to go from the jump.

“If you’re just talking about practicing, just football in itself, not the getting in shape and all that, back when we played, we used to show up on August 1st and it was ‘here we go,’” Pruitt said. “But there’s more to it than that. You’ve gotta protect these guys.

“The No. 1 thing is we wanna prevent injury and make sure that whenever we do get back started that they’re in a good spot to where we ease them into it. I don’t know if that’s two weeks, that’s four weeks, or that’s eight weeks.”

Tennessee’s players have continued to work out during these uncertain times. Though strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald left at the beginning of the pandemic to take the same position with the New York Giants, Tennessee’s current strength and conditioning coaches have continued to send workouts to the players in hopes that they would remain in the best shape possible.

“When guys come back, there’s going to be guys that have different circumstances,” Pruitt said. “You can look all over our country. In some places, we’ve got guys working out every day, and other places, we’ve got guys that can’t right now. I’m sure the circumstances will be different for each individual athlete.

“We’re going to lean on the doctors.”

You can listen to the full interview with Jeremy Pruitt here.

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