Jeremy Pruitt explains if he’s confident he’ll return for another season

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    Year three as Tennessee’s head football coach has not gone according to plan for Jeremy Pruitt.

    The Vols ended their 2020 regular season on Saturday afternoon inside of Neyland Stadium with a 34-13 loss to No. 5 Texas A&M. It was the seventh loss in eight games after beginning the season 2-0. Each of the seven losses to finish 3-7 were by double-digits.

    There haven’t been many signs of progression under Pruitt in his third year at the helm, if any at all. One could even make the case that Tennessee has taken a step back this season. The potential regression has cemented Pruitt firmly on the hot seat. Reports of a potential NCAA investigation on Saturday didn’t help either.

    Pruitt is confident he’ll return for a fourth season as the Vols’ head coach despite the outside noise.

    “Yeah, I think absolutely,” Pruitt responded when a reporter asked him following Saturday’s game if he was confident he would be retained for 2021. “I get it, 3-7 is not where we want to be.. I get the business. I understand that.

    “There is one thing I can say. I can lay my pillow down on my head every night and know I have done everything I could possibly do to make sure we protected everyone in our program. When looking for a competitive edge, there are lots of things we didn’t know about. If we were going to have a COVID season again, I probably would be a little more prepared to handle it. “

    Tennessee has young promising prospects sprinkled all throughout its roster. True freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey is the headliner given the nature of his position. The current core along with the incoming recruiting class that currently ranks inside of the top-15 of recruiting rankings gives Pruitt hope for the future.

    “I look at our football team,” Pruitt explained. “We have a lot of really young players. Most of our team will be back. I think it is a very good indication of how they compete every week. These guys don’t quit. They believe in what we are doing and they understand that we are not that far away. A lot of these guys, I think they choose to try to be part of the solution not the problem.

    “If you look at our team last year, we won seven out of our eight games. We barely won most of the games with the exception of UAB, all of them were a one-possession game. A lot of the guys on our team were part of that. They understand there is not much difference in our league. The margin of error is very small. We know that as a staff. We are working hard to improve it.”

    It’s unclear whether or not Tennessee’s 2020 season is officially in the books. There’s the possibility the Vols could still play in a bowl. That decision will likely come on Sunday. It’s the only decision Pruitt is hoping will be made.