KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — There’s a good vibe inside the Tennessee football building that the outgoing Vols players said they could feel upon returning for pro day activity on Monday.
“I’ve talked to [Jeremy Pruitt] a few times, and I like the guys he brought in, and I like where they are going,” said defensive back Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee’s top defensive player last season. “I’ve been talking to a lot of guys through the winter workouts, and it looks like they are ready for spring ball. They have a coaching staff that’s behind them that will bring the best out of them.”
The Vols open the spring football session Tuesday with the first of 15 sessions leading up to the annual Orange and White spring scrimmage April 15.
“Coach Pruitt is going to push them,” said Evan Berry, who exits Tennessee as one of the Vols’ greatest kick return men in history. “He hired a staff that will do the same thing, and you can’t ask for a better staff. I’m looking forward to this season.”
Tennessee tight end Ethan Wolf, a team leader and fan favorite during his time with the Vols, said he met Pruitt for the first time on Monday.
“He’s a football coach, that’s for sure, you can see it in everything about him,” Wolf said. “He told me to get on my brother [Vols tight end Eli Wolf] and tell him to put some weight on. I think he’s going to really help this program.”
Ethan Wolf was one of the hardest workers on the Tennessee football team last season, but he has heard from his brother that things are even more challenging under the new staff.
“I’ve heard from Eli it’s hard, and that he’s kicking their butts and that’s what they need,” Ethan Wolf said. “He won’t take anything from anybody, he has a plan and he’s putting it in motion. If you don’t like it, get out, that’s the mindset I would imagine, and that’s what I would do.
“It’s going to be hard, but I think it will pay off for them.”
Departing Tennessee defensive lineman Kendal Vickers, like Wolf a well-respected team leader, said he’s impressed with the new staff, too.
“They want to win as bad as the players do, so they are pushing them, they are hard on them every day, they don’t give them many days off,” Vickers said “They will respond to it, that’s what they need, and they’ll go into spring practice and play their butts off and the coaches will coach them up, as well.”
Vickers said seeing and hearing has made him a believer.
“I’ve talked to Coach Pruitt twice now, and he seems like a great football mind,” Vickers said. “Everyone I’ve talked to says he’s one of the greatest football minds they have been around.”