One of the biggest issues facing Jeremy Pruitt when he took over as the Tennessee Vols’ head coach in late 2017 was the state of UT’s roster.
Tennessee had some talent on the roster, but they had essentially no depth.
That’s why we saw the Vols run out of gas toward the end of the 2018 season. The Vols simply didn’t have the horses to keep up with the rest of the SEC (they couldn’t even keep up with Vanderbilt).
In order to combat the issue of a depleted roster, Pruitt added several transfers and junior college transfers.
Tennessee was so depleted at running back when Pruitt arrived that he added former Michigan State running back Madre London as a grad transfer in 2018.
London rushed for less than 1,000 yards over three seasons at Michigan State. He rushed for only 206 yards in 2018 at UT.
Adding London was a move that was specifically made so the Vols would have some depth. At that point, Tennessee just needed players with some college experience.
A couple of years later, the Vols are in a much different place under Pruitt.
Tennessee can be a lot more picky now when looking at grad transfers. They aren’t in the market for every name that hits the transfer portal.
For example, Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon, the nation’s No. 12 running back in the 2017 recruiting class, is in the transfer portal. In 2017, the Vols, along with Georgia, were a factor for the four-star running back. But Sermon ended up at Oklahoma, where he’s had some moderate success.
In three seasons at Oklahoma, Sermon has rushed for over 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Yet despite those numbers, the Vols aren’t expected to be a factor for Sermon.
That’s because Tennessee doesn’t necessarily have room for him.
Sophomore Eric Gray, who finished the 2019 season with 332 rushing yards in his final two games, should be the Vols’ lead running back in 2020. Seniors Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan, along with true freshmen Len’Neth Whitehead, Jabari Small and Tee Hodge, are also expected to be a major part of UTs running back rotation next season.
Sermon, despite being a very good football player, just doesn’t fit into Tennessee’s plans.
And that’s a good thing for the Vols. It means Pruitt has vastly improved Tennessee’s roster.
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