The Tennessee Vols had an opportunity to completely implode earlier this season.

In fact, it’s kind of surprising they didn’t.

Tennessee has a young football team, so it wouldn’t have been shocking if they would’ve went into a tailspin after an 0-2 start.

But the Vols stuck together and fought their way back to a 5-5 record with a chance to finish the season on a five game winning streak. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a team that looked lifeless in early September.

There are obviously a plethora of factors that are responsible for Tennessee’s second half surge.

One of the biggest factors, however, is the Vols’ changing culture — specifically the family atmosphere that UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt has created.

Nearly every time a recruit commits to Tennessee, the Vols’ “family atmosphere” is mentioned. It would be easy to think that all the family talk is simply a ploy by Pruitt and his staff to land more recruits.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The family atmosphere on Rocky Top is genuine. And it’s evident in the way Pruitt talks about his team.

Thanks to the bye week, Pruitt had some extra time this week to do some recruiting. As a result, Pruitt didn’t see his team the first couple of days of the week.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to see our football team for two days, so immediately this morning when I got in I wanted to go to the weight room and speak to some of them since I hadn’t gotten a chance to see them”, said Pruitt on Wednesday.

Tennessee’s second year head coach added “The reason I got in this business was to have a positive impact on young people……it’s something for me that when you come to work every day, that it’s not work for me.”

It’s apparent from Pruitt’s words that he truly has a passion for young people. He’s committed to making a difference in the lives of his players. It’s not just a job for him — it’s his life.

Tennessee’s closeness as a team is what’s allowed the Vols to fight through adversity this season and get to a point where they have a chance to reach a bowl game.

It might sound like lip service, but UT’s family atmosphere is legitimate.

And the way the team stuck together this season, when other teams would’ve fell apart, is proof.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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