Randy Smith: Vols, Pruitt Begin Spring Practice

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Spring football practice is underway this week in Knoxville as new head coach Jeremy Pruitt looks to help the Volunteers bounce back from the worst season in school history. A record low of four wins overall and winless in SEC play led to the firing of Butch Jones and the subsequent tragic search for a new head coach. I'll spare Big Orange fans the agony of rehashing all the turmoil that led to the return of Phillip Fulmer as athletic director and the eventual hiring of Jeremy Pruitt as head football coach. The entire scenario was as dysfunctional as it could possibly ever be. 

Things have settled down now for Coach Pruitt. No longer are fans questioning his Alabama background. No longer are fans obsessing about the Vols dismal performance. Instead, they're quietly welcoming spring football and being cautiously optimistic about the 2018 season. There is a general sense that things couldn't get any worse than the 4-8 Vols of 2017 but a lot of the Big Orange faithful are also thinking it could get worse. Trust me; it will be better. How much better remains to be seen. 

The Vols are short on healthy offensive linemen  after two days of practice.   Sophomore to be Trey Smith, arguably the best returning offensive lineman in the SEC spent the last two days riding a stationary bike on the sidelines. He took no snaps at all but he isn't the only lineman to be missing snaps. Coach Pruitt stated that everyone will eventually be back and healthy again but for now the Vols' offense is short-handed.  

There is a lot of chatter about the Vols' transfer quarterback Keller Chryst from Stanford. Chryst will transfer and will be eligible to play his one and only season this fall. Until then the only two scholarship quarterbacks Tennessee  has in camp this spring are returning starter Jarrett Guarantano and back up Will McBride. Other returners from 2017 are trying out different positions; all in an effort to improve on team 121's 4-8 record of last year. 

Jeremy Pruitt has promised that practices will be much more demanding this spring, which will likely carry over into the fall. I have no idea how the tougher practices, transfers or new signees will translate into wins, but I do know this; Tennessee will win at least a couple more games than last year. They will be tougher and will play harder. They will also play a lot smarter than they've played in several seasons. If I am correct and Tennessee finishes 6-6, they will go to a bowl game. It won't be a great bowl but it will allow them to have three more weeks of practice  and allow their fans a fun trip around the holidays. Maybe it's too early for those kind of predictions. Then again, maybe it's not. Tennessee fans took a big hit at the end of last season, and they deserve much better. Maybe, just maybe things will get better. 

* * * 

Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com



PREP SCHEDULE

(Please notify us of any schedule changes and times as well as game and match scores at news@chattanoogan.com) Softball: THURSDAY, APRIL 26 Marion Co. at Whitwell King’s Academy at Soddy Daisy Warren Co. at Rhea Co. Silverdale at Baylor 5 p.m. Polk Co. at Meigs Co. East Hamilton at Bradley Central at CSAS Signal Mountain at Howard Tyner ... (click for more)

Dalton State's Lee Is Once Again National Player Of The Week

For the second-consecutive week and third time this season, S.M. Lee of Dalton State has been named the NAIA National Men's Golfer of the Week, the national office announced Wednesday. Lee was selected based on his performances from April 16 – April 22 and was chosen out of a pool of conference, Association of Independent Institutions and unaffiliated group winners. National ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Arrest Robbery Suspects Within Hours Of Holdup; Citizen Takes Quick Photo Of Suspect Vehicle

Chattanooga Police officers arrested two suspects involved in an armed robbery within hours of the incident. Officers responded to an armed robbery call at 5966 Brainerd Road  at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The victim told police she was exiting her vehicle when she was approached by a white male pointing a handgun at her demanding her purse and cell phone. The victim ... (click for more)

WACKER-Charleston Taking Initial Steps To Restart Polysilicon Production After Explosion Shut Facility Last September

WACKER-Charleston announced Thursday it has resumed operations for the production of polysilicon. Using a phase-in approach, WACKER has begun the initial start-up of the site, beginning with distillation. The initial production of polysilicon is targeted to begin in the next few weeks. WACKER anticipates the Charleston site will reach full capacity in the fourth quarter ... (click for more)

Keep The Gifted Program In The Hamilton County Schools - And Response (2)

I currently have a daughter in fourth grade at Lookout Valley Elementary and a daughter in the eighth grade at Lookout Valley Middle High School. Both of my daughters are very good students, as well as being very good people. I am writing today with a concern. I was made aware that the Hamilton County Department of Education is considering cutting the gifted program ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A True Tennessean

“Last week I told some Republican friends who have held high office, traditional and true Republicans, who like you are both conservative and compassionate, Christians in their personal faith and public service,” the email began. “These are Tennessee Republicans that I have known for decades, and whom I'd trust with my life and my wife … I told them that my views and values make ... (click for more)