SEC Media Days are underway at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. After being introduced as Tennessee head coach this past offseason, Jeremy Pruitt got behind the podium for his first SEC Media Day since leaving his position as Alabama defensive coordinator.
“The media coverage in the SEC is second to none, thank you for that”, Pruitt said in an opening statement. “The number one goal is to build a championship program”.
Pruitt spoke highly of the program since taking over, describing Philip Fulmer as an ideal athletic director and highlighting the national identity of the program.
“If I could choose who the AD would be, I’d pick Phil Fulmer,” Pruitt said. “If I’ve got any questions, I got a guy 30 feet down the hall I can lean on”.
Pruitt focused heavily on his time since becoming head coach and in spring practice. He mentioned the low turnover of players, noting that only two players had left the program since he took over, with both signaling their intentions the day he took over.
The new Tennessee head coach had high praise for redshirt sophomore tight end Eli Wolf.
“When we started the spring Eli Wolf couldn’t block me,” Pruitt said. “At the end of the spring, he learned how to strain and did a really good job”.
Pruitt says Wolf has gained 20 pounds since January, saying that if the team played like he had in the last few spring practices, “we’ll be just fine”.
He says the team was limited by the dozen or so players held out of spring practice due to injuries but reassured fans that sophomore offensive lineman Trey Smith would be ready for the fall.
Pruitt says the team must do its part to bounce back in the state rivalry with Tennessee but noted that “The T is a national brand”, and he was “excited to give something back to the fan base”.
Pruitt was joined by three players today in Atlanta. Eli Wolf, junior defensive lineman Kyle Phillips and sophomore wide receiver Marquez Callaway will all speak to the media Wednesday.
“I’ve been there for six months and from the top down, from the boosters to the fans and players, we’re all running in the same direction and running as fast as we can” Pruitt said.
When asked if he had gotten any advice from former colleagues Jimbo Fisher or Nick Saban, Pruitt simply asked, “You think Coach Saban is going to give me some advice?”
The Vols open the 2018 campaign on Sept. 1 in Charlotte against West Virginia.