Jeremy Pruitt certainly has faced plenty of challenges since taking over as Tennessee’s coach.
Pruitt had to finish up his stint as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, fill out his coaching staff, address the bizarre Jauan Jennings’ situation and – oh, yeah – put together a recruiting class with an inaugural early signing period that gave him less time to recruit.
Welcome to life as a head coach in the SEC.
With all the challenges, it would be understandable if the Vols’ 2018 class lacks some sizzle. On the even of National Signing Day, the class currently ranks No. 20 in the 247 Composite Rankings. That’s not great, but it’s also nothing to be ashamed of considering the circumstances.
Here is what the Vols need to do on National Signing Day to make the class more appealing.
1. Sign more defense
The Vols not only need more defensive talent, they need more defensive talent that will fit Pruitt’s style.
Remember, this will likely be a complete overhaul defensively for the Vols. Pruitt wants to run a 3-4 instead of UT’s former 4-3 base. That means Pruitt needs to get bigger on defense, especially at cornerback. The Vols could certainly use a big cornerback or two Wednesday.
The Vols also need to get bigger at linebacker while not losing athleticism. Four-star commitment J.J. Peterson (6 feet 2, 231 pounds) would fit the bill. While he’s committed to UT, Alabama has made a strong push and Peterson visited Tuscaloosa on January 19 – a week after he took a trip to Knoxville.
Keeping Peterson may be the key story of the day for the Vols on Wednesday.
2. More carries
With John Kelly’s decision to enter the NFL draft, the Vols suddenly are thin at running back. Sophomore-to-be Ty Chandler is the only returnee with significant playing time. Moreover, Kelly is not the type of running back Pruitt wants. Pruitt is looking for bigger backs, like Alabama has featured in the past.
Pruitt has signed Jeremy Banks (6-2, 215) from Cordova, Tenn., and Anthony Grant (5-11, 200) from Buford (Ga.) High school is committed. Both are three-star prospects. That’s not a bad start but Pruitt wouldn’t mind adding another to the mix.
3. Keep Jordan Young
Wide receiver Jordan Young was largely unknown when he committed to UT in mid-January. Now, he is quite well-known and Florida State has made a strong push for Young, a three-star prospect from the Atlanta area. The final decision comes on National Signing Day.
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