Vols Turn Focus Towards Season Opener

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(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. The Tennessee football team worked out in full pads on Friday afternoon for practice on the indoor fields as severe weather forced the Vols inside the Anderson Training Center.

With the season-opener eight days away, UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt continues to present different scenarios at practice in an effort to keep things fresh.

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“We’ve mixed it up every day at practice and tried to present a lot of different circumstances, scenarios and situational football,” said Pruitt. “Every practice is different, it’s kind of kept them on their toes a little bit. We have a young team, so guys should be excited about the opportunity to play and get better every day.”

Coach Pruitt has also continued to find ways to put his best players on the field, including sophomore Jeremy Banks, who has practiced at linebacker in recent days, transitioning from running back.

“We just want to play our best players,” Pruitt said. “In my opinion Jeremy is one of our best players. He’s in the rotation at running back so we can let him share the load with three other guys or he can have an opportunity to play every snap on defense. So, we’re going to let him play defense at least for the next couple of weeks for sure.”

Pruitt noted the addition of Maryland transfer quarterback Kasim Hill to the roster who brings notable FBS-level experience.

“He’s a guy that wanted to walk on and have an opportunity to compete and participate and it’s hard to find guys that want to do that who have started games in major college football,” Pruitt said.

Hill saw action in 13 games during his two seasons with the Terps, making 10 starts in 2018. Last season, Hill, a native of Washington, D.C., completed 84 passes for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns.

Tennessee will continue practice on Saturday before taking an off day on Sunday. Monday will officially start the first game week of the 2019 season with Georgia State coming to Neyland Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. ET kick on ESPNU.

Tennessee Football Transcript

Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt Post-Practice Press Conference | Aug. 23, 2019

 On Daniel Bituli not practicing:

“We did a little procedure on him to clean his knee up a little bit. He’ll be out anywhere from 10-17 days. We did it in the early part of this week to alleviate the pain a little bit.”

On Jeremy Banks working out at linebacker:

“We just want to play our best players. In my opinion Jeremy is one of our best players. He’s in the rotation at running back so we can let him share the load with three other guys or he can have an opportunity to play every snap on defense. So, we’re going to let him play defense at least for the next couple of weeks for sure.”

On Kasim Hill transferring from Maryland:

“Well, he contacted us about transferring. We only have three guys on scholarship. He’s a guy that wanted to walk on and have an opportunity to compete and participate. It’s hard to find guys that want to do that who have started games in major college football.”

On Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon’s eligibility for the 2019 season:

“We have not changed how we’ve practiced. It’s interesting how this transfer portal stuff works. I’ve been a guy who’s really been an advocate, not because I want kids to leave if things get tough, not that. When kids elect to transfer that’s not always the case. Sometimes guys are looking for better opportunities. Sometimes it’s not a good fit and sometimes they might have messed up. Every scenario is just a bit different. With this, it’s put on the NCAA to filter through all of it and figure out what’s the justification for this guy to be eligible as opposed to the other guy. We actually had a few guys that have left our program and I wrote letters to the NCAA and explained to them why I believed they should be eligible at the institutions that they were going to and I’m pretty sure they’re all eligible. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it as far as who they decide is going to be eligible and who is not, but I definitely know that, that has happened in the past for us.

On transfer rules:
“What I think is unfair is every person that transfers, if they file a waiver, every circumstance is completely different. And there are lots of them out there. There are lots of people out there that have elected to transfer and I’m sure there are a lot of them out there that have filed waivers. But, I don’t think you can just put a rule down and say ‘this is the rule,’ and it cover every circumstance. Unless you actually do some investigating. And sometimes I don’t think you can do it by writing things down, sometimes you need to go to the place, talk to the kids and talk to the people there to get an idea. There’s a process and there isn’t anything we can do about it besides support our student-athletes and that’s what we’ll do.”

On the team’s focus sharpening as the season approaches:

“We’ve mixed it up every day at practice and tried to present a lot of different circumstances, scenarios and situational football. Every practice is different, it’s kind of kept them on their toes a little bit. We have a young team, so guys should be excited about the opportunity to play and get better every day. Some days they’re excited and some days they’re frustrated, whether they might not know what they’re supposed to do or maybe they think they’re doing it right and they’re not. It’s kind of all over the place.”

On how Aubrey Solomon has handled his eligibility being in question:

“I think it’s obvious with every circumstance out there. I’ve not followed it as close as you all have in the media, what’s going on out there. I don’t know everybody that’s filed a waiver and all that and asked for immediate eligibility. But obviously if you do that, there’s a reason why. He just needs to really focus on the things that he can control and right now (and) that’s him. That’s what he’s trying to do.”

On Marcus Tatum saying the offensive linemen are taking responsibility for the program:

“I don’t really think that’s fair to the offensive line. That may be how Marcus feels, but there was very little depth at that position, which goes back to controlling the roster. There were guys that were asked to play when they weren’t physically able to play. It’s hard to have success if you’re not ready. I’ve seen a bunch of guys that were redshirted as freshman, didn’t play as redshirt freshman, didn’t play as redshirt sophomores, and they’re still playing in the NFL. It took them four years to get ready to play. It doesn’t mean they’re not a good football player or that they’re not a good prospect. They’re not ready to play at a high level in this league and there are probably some guys like that on our team. They were asked to do some things that they weren’t physically able to do yet.”

On if Aubrey Solomon how he has handled transfers from his program:

“I don’t know exactly what the previous institution has done. I know what we’ve done. I know what we’ve done for young men that have left our program. I don’t know if that’s the same across the country. I can’t say one way or the other, but I’m pretty sure Marquill Osborne is eligible at Charlotte. He just wanted an opportunity to play. That was it. He had no issues here. He did everything I asked him to do while he was here. I wrote a thing up and suggested that he’s allowed to play and I’m pretty sure that he’s going to be eligible. Don’t quote me on that, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case.”

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