It’s no secret that Jeremy Pruitt’s already had a huge impact on the Tennessee Vols football program.
When Pruitt took over in late 2017, the program had hit rock bottom.
The Vols were coming off their worst season ever. And they had just gone through a disastrous coaching search that had turned Tennessee into a national punchline.
A little over two years later and the Vols are one of the hottest programs in the nation.
Tennessee has the country’s second longest active winning streak among Power-five programs (six games, trailing only LSU’s 16 game winning streak). The Vols also signed a top 10 2020 recruiting class in February and they currently have the nation’s No. 2 2021 recruiting class.
It’s all coming up aces for Tennessee right now.
And nothing illustrates that more than a simple 11 second video that former Vols wide receiver Josh Smith posted on Friday evening.
Smith tweeted a video of offensive linemen Trey Smith, Cooper Mays and Cade Mays working out together in Knoxville.
— Josh Smith (@JoshSmith_25) May 16, 2020
This video would’ve been a fantasy a year ago (or even six months ago).
In 2017, before the season turned into a complete disaster, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Mays brothers and Smith would eventually play together on Rocky Top.
But after Jones was fired and Cade Mays decommitted from UT and signed with Georgia, it seemingly killed the chances of the trio ever playing together — especially after video surfaced of Cade Mays in late 2017 in a Georgia shirt singing Dixieland Delight and making a vulgar comment about Tennessee.
When Cade Mays decided to transfer to Tennessee earlier this year, it was quite a shock — even though his younger brother had just signed with the Vols.
It’s not just the presence of Cade in that video that’s a big deal, either.
The fact Smith is returning to Tennessee for his senior season, after working hard to play despite blood clot issues, also speaks volumes about Pruitt.
Smith could’ve easily headed to the NFL this year. We’ve seen plenty of UT players with eligibility go the NFL early even though they could’ve stuck around another year and improved their draft stock. In recent years, especially under Butch, players just wanted to get away from the drama in Knoxville.
Smith, however, decided to stay. And I’m sure the fact Pruitt is the head coach had a lot to do with his decision.
If I would’ve told you last spring that Cade Mays and Trey Smith would potentially be starting for Tennessee in 2020 you probably would’ve called me crazy. And you would’ve been right to do so. No one saw this coming.
But that’s just the impact of Jeremy Pruitt.
He’s building something special on Rocky Top. And it’s videos like this one that gives that statement some legitimacy.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports