Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt has been careful during his first ten months in Knoxville to avoid referencing anything to do with the Butch Jones era at UT.
Pruitt has consistently told reporters that what happened before he arrived at Tennessee has nothing to do with the future of Vol football.
But on Monday, during his weekly press conference, Pruitt finally made a slight reference to the Jones era.
Pruitt was asked about the progress of offensive lineman Trey Smith, who missed spring practice and most of fall practice with blood clots.
Tennessee’s head coach mentioned that Smith is still catching up from missing so much practice time, telling reporters “we shouldn’t put unrealistic expectations on him”.
Pruitt then mentioned that Smith is now playing in one spot, instead of moving all over the offensive line like he did last season.
I think if you look back last year he played a lot of different spots on the offensive line. We’ve kind of put him at one spot to leave him there, let him get good at, gain confidence. I think he will do that over the rest of the season.
Pruitt can say whatever he wants to the media, but we all know he watched every bit of game film from last season. He would’ve been crazy not to watch it.
Last season, Smith played at left tackle, right tackle, left guard and right guard.
That’s a lot to ask of a true freshman — even one as talented as Smith.
But it was also strange that Smith, Tennessee’s best offensive lineman in 2017, wasn’t a permanent fixture at left tackle. That’s typically where a team’s best offensive lineman plays.
Pruitt is doing the right thing by leaving Smith at left tackle this season. If Smith can stay healthy, he’ll go down as one of the all-time great offensive linemen in the SEC. He’s still finding his groove this season after missing a ton of practice time.
As Pruitt said on Monday, Smith’s best football is ahead of him.
And that’s great news for Tennessee.
Featured image via Times Free Press