One of the biggest issues toward the end of Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure at Tennessee was his inability to consistently land elite in-state talent.

The Vols missed on 8 of the top 10 players in Tennessee during the 2021 recruiting cycle (Pruitt was still the head coach during the early signing period when most of those recruits signed).

That’s not a recipe for success at UT.

Part of the reason the Vols’ in-state recruiting started to suffer near the end of the Pruitt era was because the staff was essentially ignoring some key in-state recruits.

One of those recruits was 2022 three-star wide receiver Kenzy Paul, a Canada native who arrived in Chattanooga late last summer.

Paul recently discussed his recruitment with VolQuest and he made it clear that he didn’t feel like a priority for the previous coaching staff.

“Tennessee offered me with the previous coaching staff, but they hardly ever reached out,” said Paul to VolQuest.

“I think I was just on the list,” added Paul.

That’s obviously not an effective way to build key in-state relationships. And that’s part of the reason that Pruitt’s in-state recruiting dropped off during his final months on the job.

New head coach Josh Heupel, however, is taking a different approach with Paul and other in-state recruits.

“Coach Heupel and his staff reached out to me very soon and have continued to do so,” said Paul.

“Tennessee has such a rich history and these coaches are all about it, even though they are new,” explained Paul. “I can tell they are all working together and have the same goals.”

It sounds like Heupel and his staff are determined to change the perception of Vols football in Tennessee.

So far, he’s off to a good start.

Featured image via TODAY SPORTS
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