When the Tennessee Vols started the season 1-4, there were plenty of folks who remained confident in head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
But even the fans who kept the faith in Pruitt, acknowledged that the rebuild process was going to take more time than they realized.
After all, Pruitt stepped into an absolute disaster. Expecting him to turn it around in just two years was never realistic.
Except, maybe it was?
After Tennessee’s lackluster start, Pruitt and his staff have the Volunteers playing their best football of the season. And yet even after UT’s convincing 41-21 win against South Carolina, Pruitt isn’t satisfied.
The second year Vols head coach told reporters this week that he and his staff need to do a better job as coaches of getting the players prepared, saying “I know that a lot of people in our program are not happy with how they played”.
That’s an encouraging sign for fans. It’s also a sign that Tennessee’s best football this season is likely ahead of them.
And that could mean that UT gets to where they want to be faster than anyone thought was possible a few weeks ago.
The Volunteers have a legitimate chance to win out and finish the regular season with a 7-5 record. It won’t be easy, but all of the games remaining on Tennessee’s schedule are winnable (UAB, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt).
If the Vols somehow win out this season (or even finish 6-6, which looked improbable after back-to-back blowout losses against Florida and Georgia), then I think we’ll see recruiting absolutely explode for Tennessee this winter.
And that’s the only thing holding the Vols back right now.
Any recruit that’s teetering on the edge of committing to Tennessee would have a hard time saying no to Pruitt after seeing the job he’s done this fall.
Pruitt’s always had a good reputation as a coach. He’s proved himself as a position coach, a recruiter and a defensive coordinator. But he’s never proved himself as a head coach. He has a chance to do that in November.
Legendary former Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors once said that they remember what you do in November.
And that’s certainly going to be the case with Pruitt.
If it’s a November to remember for the Vols, it could be the beginning of the Tennessee resurgence that fans have been waiting on for more than a decade.
It’s close, Vol fans. It’s closer than it’s been in a long, long time.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports