KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel told media on Wednesday that the bye week will have a focus on scouting prospects in the state of Tennessee. While the players are getting some well-deserved rest, Heupel and his coaching staff will be using part of the open week to build for the future by hitting the recruiting trail hard.

The Vols class of 2022 is currently ranked 31st nationally and 12th in the SEC, per 247Sports. Heupel said they’re starting to pick up steam, receiving positive feedback from future prospects — who are seeing the exciting brand of football Heupel is known for in action at Tennessee.

Heupel’s offense has been impressive and when he was announced as the next head coach, that was what fans were most excited about. To go along with his fast-paced offense, the Vols defense led by coordinator Tim Banks has stepped up to the challenge. So far, the Vols are 3rd in the nation in tackles for loss behind Fresno State and Troy.

Offensively, they have scored the most points this year than three of the last four full seasons. Heupel said the product is starting to sell itself.

“The ability to play extremely aggressive in all three phases of the game. Offensively the balance in the run and the passing game. The product sells itself, meaning they understand what they’re going to be playing in and there’s a ton of excitement from recruits.”

As for the open date, Heupel said he’s focusing on family time without completely stepping away from the game — he told media he’ll likely spend Saturday morning playing catch with his son and then watch some football on the couch with his daughter in the afternoon.

Building depth on bye week

After playing eight straight games in eight straight weeks, the Volunteers are getting a much-needed break with their bye week this week. But that doesn’t mean coach Josh Heupel and the team are taking the week off.

At Wednesday’s media availability, Heupel said this year’s Tennessee roster is the thinnest he’s ever been a part of as a player or a coach. It’s been well documented the transfer portal was not kind to the Vols after the 2020 season and the firing of ex-coach Jeremy Pruitt — but Heupel isn’t making excuses. He said either you’re good enough to win on Saturdays or you’re not, and he added they’re using the bye week to build a little more depth on this roster.

“Some of the guys that you’re trying to get healthy have limited reps or very few reps during the course of the week. Those guys start taking the bulk of the reps, some of the young guys get more of an opportunity to go out there and learn and compete. You’re balancing all those factors at every position and make sure that your young guys, in particular, get some growth this week.”

Thursday and Friday for Heupel and the coaching staff will be dedicated to recruiting.