From the moment Jeremy Pruitt was hired by Phillip Fulmer as the Tennessee Vols’ new head football coach, the program has been considered by fans and analysts to be in “rebuild” mode.

How long the rebuild will last is anyone’s guess. There are a lot of factors to consider — how many elite recruits can Tennessee add? Will other programs in the SEC falter?

There are still a lot of things that need to happen for the Vols to turn the corner.

But new defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley believes Tennessee has the defensive talent to be “successful” now.

This is an optimistic statement from Ansley, but it also eliminates the narrative that’s surrounded Tennessee’s program since Pruitt took over in late 2017 — that UT doesn’t have the talent to compete with the upper echelon of the SEC.

If Vol fans combine Ansley’s confident tone with Pruitt’s sanguine view of the offense, they’ll find there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the Vols in 2019.

Is Tennessee going to come out of nowhere to win the SEC East?

Probably not (though we’ve seen plenty of crazy scenarios play out before).

But I believe the Vols are going to win more than five games in 2019. And I think they’ll win a “big game” against either Florida or South Carolina. I also think they’ll take care of business when they host Vanderbilt the final weekend of the regular season.

Tennessee still has a long ways to go before they’re a team to be reckoned with. But the Vols’ current coaching staff — specifically the head coach — doesn’t offer a lot of “fluff” when speaking to reporters.

If you listen carefully, Pruitt and his staff will tell you exactly what to expect out of UT football.

And so far, it sounds like fans should expect to see the Vols take a major leap forward this upcoming season.

Featured image via John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

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