The 2018 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Tennessee Volunteers.
No. 39: Tennessee Volunteers
Spring Practice Starts: March 20
Spring Game: April 21
Tennessee Volunteers Prespring Status
It’s breath of fresh air time for the proud program that’s been down for way, way, way too long.
After the nightmare and national embarrassment of trying to find a head coach, a coup in the athletic department, and years and years of pain and suffering, it seems like everything is pointed in the right direction.
But how long is this going to take for Jeremy Pruitt to make this a Georgia-like player in the East?
Butch Jones recruited well, but the results weren’t there. And now, all spring will be about finding who the right parts are to go forward. This isn’t going to be an overnight turnaround, but the fundamentals are there to be good again in a hurry.
Tennessee Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Defensive Tackle. The quarterback situation will get the most attention, but with the signing of Stanford graduate transfer Keller Chryst, at least there’s some potential stability. As much as the offense needs help, the defensive front is where everything has to start after finishing dead last in the SEC and 125th in the nation against the run.
Can Shy Tuttle and Quay Picou are just two of the big bodies who need to rise up, but overall, the Vols need depth and more talent here. It might take more than 15 practices to get there.
Tennessee Biggest Issue
Okay, it’s the offense. Specifically, the ground game. The defensive front was bad, and while the offensive line wasn’t necessarily worse, it wasn’t far off. Leading rusher John Kelly is gone, and now it’ll be a battle to see who can help a ground attack that finished last year with just 1,409 yards averaging 3.4 yards per carry. By comparison, the Vols averaged over five yards per pop and close to 2,700 yards up front two years ago.
The O line has to be more physical, the quarterbacks need more time, and the running backs have to emerge. Fast.
Tennessee Biggest Positive
Pruitt. The Vols desperately needed a change at the top. They needed someone who could at least appear to be the next Kirby Smart when it comes to battling for top recruits, loading up a defense, and taking on the Alabamas of the world when it comes to being in the SEC title mix.
Pruitt has the resume, the pedigree, and the upside to be just that fresh voice and personality. He’s not going to pull any punches, he’ll be brutally honest, and he might just tear this whole thing down to build it back up again.
Really, Why Are The Tennessee Volunteers Ranked Here?
For good and for bad, the Vols are going through too massive a change to make too much of a leap up in the SEC world. Oh sure, going to a bowl game won’t be a problem, and you’re not going to get that again from the lines, but it’s time to do some serious talent evaluation.
This might just be a top 20 team once the puzzle pieces are put in the right spots, but first, the coaching staff and the team needs a whole month of spring ball to get that going.