Times are changing for Tennessee football

Published 3:58 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Times were years ago that Tennessee football was known as Wide Receiver University with athletes such as Willie Gault and Donte Stallworth just to mention a few passing through the storied Power T inside Neyland Stadium.
Things changed after Phillip Fulmer left and a flurry of coaches took over the reins of the program to only see a few years of disappointment fall across Big Orange Country.
But things are looking up – way up, for the Volunteers heading into head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s third year at the helm.
More and more elite recruits are beginning to look Tennessee’s way as the horizon is beginning to see the clouds blow away quickly and the sun is starting to shine brightly again on Rocky Top.
What has made the difference for the Vols?
Making the right coaching changes
The most glaring improvement has come from the changes Pruitt has made to his coaching staff. By luring Jim Chaney away from Georgia and bringing in VFL favorites Tee Martin and Jay Graham, Pruitt is relying on those two coaches’ offensive success at Tennessee as well as their other coaching stops to win over some big-time recruits and solidify the players already on the roster.
Also, having a Heisman Trophy winner in Chris Weinke on the offensive side couldn’t hurt things either.
Tennessee gave glimpses last season of what the offense can do when they play up to their capabilities and this should continue in the 2020 season as well.
Guys buying into the program
One of the things Pruitt has had to overcome through his first two years was getting everybody on board with his coaching philosophy and the direction he wanted to take the team.
It wasn’t an easy thing, but Pruitt stayed the course and having Phillip Fulmer in the background lending his support as the Tennessee Athletic Director, the ship starting shifting course throughout the 2019 season coming away with a huge Taxslayer Bowl win over Indiana to close out the season on a high note.
Yes, some players transferred out but as the season went, it was evident that players were either going to buy in or ship out as Tennessee had only one thing in mind and that was getting back to their winning ways.
Fans realizing the obstacles 
It took a while, but Vol Nation finally understood that patience was going to be needed as Pruitt was making moves that always didn’t make sense at the time but the overall picture revealed he knew exactly what he was doing.
One could obviously see by all the orange that filled the stands for the Taxslayer Bowl that fans were getting a glimpse of what the future is going to hold.
It wasn’t easy. Many fans were on the verge of jumping off a high cliff into the Tennessee River to drown themselves but now that is the farthest thing from the truth as now Vol fans are looking forward to returning to the level where wins over Florida, Georgia, and even Alabama are right around the corner.
Recruits now believing in the message being preached
Many thought that big-time freshman Harrison Bailey might jump the Vols ship after watching three Vol quarterbacks take the field down the stretch of the 2019 season but Bailey has seen something at UT that he really likes and remained solid signing with the Vols on National Signing Day.
Added into the mix with Bailey is four-star wide receivers Jalin Hyatt from Irmo, SC, Malachi Wideman from Venice Florida, and Jimmy Calloway of Morrow, GA, one can see that the Vols are serious about getting back to their former self.
Throw into the mix of four-star athlete Damarcus Beckwith of Florence, AL who will more than likely line up at wideout as well, Vol fans should be licking their chops.
Tennessee also added a couple of defensive guys that should be fun to watch in Tyler Baron and Morven Joseph who should be in a neck and neck competition to replace edge rusher Darrell Taylor from an outside linebacker slot.
While there is still a lot of work to be done and having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic to boot, the Vols still are looking to be in a good position in the event football is allowed to be played in the 2020 fall season.
All of Vol Nation is feeling the change in the air and its a breath of fresh air.

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