There was plenty of optimism on Rocky Top last year at this time with Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt leading his first spring practice in Knoxville.

That optimism, however, quickly waned as Pruitt realized just how far the Vols had to go before they could be relevant in the SEC East.

But this spring there’s a different vibe emitting from Tennessee’s spring practice.

Pruitt, who, by nature, is eternally discontent with his football teams, has actually had a sanguine tone when discussing his Vols squad this spring.

In fact, on Tuesday, after Tennessee’s 10th spring practice, Pruitt told reporters that the amount of competition on the practice field is “not even close” to what the Vols had last spring.

Hearing Pruitt speak like this should be like hearing 1,000 choruses of Rocky Top after a home win in October for Tennessee fans.

Pruitt doesn’t hand out compliments on a whim. He’s typically more displeased than pleased.

But it’s been hard for the second year Vols head coach to hide his enthusiasm for his 2019 team this spring — at least by Pruitt’s standards.

Pruitt has mentioned quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s continued progression multiple times in the last few weeks. And he’s been quick to point out how well the offense has played at times.

I’m not ready to predict that Tennessee will suddenly be a factor to win the SEC East in 2019. But I think UT fans are going to see a much improved product on the field this upcoming season.

A bowl game should easily be within reach for Tennessee. And if everything goes right, the Vols could achieve a seven or eight win season.

I think after the last two seasons, most Tennessee fans would sign up for those results without a second thought.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

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