The Tennessee Vols are on their way to being an elite program in the not-so-distant future.

I’ve never been more convinced of this than I am right now.

And it’s because of a wild stat I recently saw from Pro Football Focus.

Vols defensive backs Shawn Shamburger and Bryce Thompson played nearly 700 combined snaps last season and allowed ZERO touchdowns.

This is just a testament to the job that Jeremy Pruitt and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley have done with the secondary.

Shamburger was the No. 1007 rated player in the nation when he signed with Tennessee in 2017.

Thompson, a four-star recruit in high school, was a bit of an afterthought after not signing with South Carolina on National Signing Day in 2018. Thompson eventually signed with the Vols later that spring (in May, three months after signing day, which is unusual for a recruit).

Tennessee Vols

The fact that Tennessee’s secondary is becoming a strength without talent that’s perceived as elite just shows that Pruitt is as advertised — a defensive mastermind who knows how to develop players as well as any coach in the nation.

The Vols are only going to get better from here. Tennessee signed a top 10 class during the 2020 recruiting cycle (including four-star safety Keshawn Lawrence, who was rated as the No. 6 safety in the nation). And they’re on their way to signing another top 10 class during the 2021 cycle.

At this point, it’s not a matter of “will the Vols be elite”, it’s “when will the Vols be elite”.

And I’d say the answer to that question is likely sooner rather than later.

Featured image via USA Today/Randy Sartin
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