Vols Coach Jeremy Pruitt Wants Ball-Hawking Defense


(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt is looking for a smart, aggressive and ball-hawking defense as he begins year two on Rocky Top.

Pruitt met with the media following Friday’s first practice of fall camp after inclement weather forced the team to leave Haslam Field and go indoors at the Anderson Training Center.

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There are things that we want to get accomplished this camp,” Pruitt said. “The first thing is just being a smart football team and not making mistakes, so we have to get more guys that know what to do. The next thing is that we want to be a ball-hawking defense. You have to create turnovers for that. We want to be good fundamentally, and how you do that is practicing well every single day. If you’re going to be a good football player, you have to have some toughness to you. We obviously need to create some more toughness there. It’s the first day. We have a very young football team, a lot of these guys will learn a lot from today, since it was their first day out there with the coaches. We’ll be much improved tomorrow and we’ll continue to improve as camp goes.”

Jennings Ready to Go in Fall Camp
Redshirt senior wide receiver Jauan Jennings was on the field Friday to open camp and was healthy and at full speed after being limited during summer conditioning.

“Jauan is ready to go,” Pruitt said. “We’ll probably monitor him a little bit for a week, put him on a pitch count to ease him into it. He’s fine. He’s healthy. He’s full speed. He obviously did miss a little bit of the summer conditioning. We’ll ease him into it. Jauan really likes football. He doesn’t like it. He loves it. He loves football. He loves the University of Tennessee. He likes to practice. He likes to play. He likes to be in the building. You love coaching guys like Jauan.”

Jennings finished 2018 as Tennessee’s second leading receiver with 30 receptions, 438 receiving yards  and hauled in three touchdown passes. The emotional leader of the team, Jennings is back for a fifth season, anchoring a deep and talented wide receiver group.

Darrell Taylor Impresses on Day One
Pruitt spoke on redshirt senior outside linebacker Darrell Taylor’s pass rush ability and the hard work he has put in to learn what the coaching staff’s expectations are when it comes to making plays on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think Darrell’s a guy that has really good pass rush ability,” Pruitt said. “He’s worked hard since we’ve been here to learn what to do and how we want it done. It showed last year that he’s got ability to be a playmaker on defense. He’s searching for consistency and with experience, knowledge and understanding, we’ll see that.”

Foregoing the NFL Draft and returning to Tennessee for his senior season, Taylor is the SEC’s returning sack leader from a year ago. He recorded 36 tackles, eight sacks, forced three fumbles and had 11 quarterback hurries in 2018.

Fan Day on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. 
The Tennessee football team invites fans to meet the Vols inside Neyland Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 4, for “Fan Day,” which will feature an open practice followed by an autograph session.

Admission and parking are free for the event.

Gate 21 will open for fans at 1:30 p.m. and the open practice will begin at 2:30 p.m.

The autograph session will begin at the conclusion of practice at approximately 4:30 p.m.

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.