KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football took to Haslam Field on Tuesday afternoon for the first of 15 spring sessions under new coach Jeremy Pruitt.
“Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill, of living is gone …. “
The music was the first obvious difference from practices last season, the pulsating rap music of the Butch Jones Era no longer booming through speakers.
The John Cougar Mellencamp classic was, in fact, carrying over from the baseball stadium.
A horn sounded, signaling a change in periods, but there were no coaches talking over practice speakers or megaphones.
The players went through a much shorter warmup period, and then it was on to drills, the first focusing on ball security.
Rain started to fall, picking up enough that it would have pushed previous Tennessee teams into the Neyland Thompson Sports Complex. But not Pruitt. In fact, he and his new staff didn’t flinch, likely appreciating the added adversity for the players in helmets, jerseys and shorts.
The offense broke into two full 11-man groups, first and second teams snapping the ball to an NFL-like cadence — as opposed to the “clap” snap count used by the previous regime.
Position groups were next, with players in rehabilitation mode going to a designated area where a sledgehammer and large tire awaited them.
An exercise bike might ultimately be a part of the rehab process, but during practice it looked like the sledgehammer exercise was much harder than the football drill work going on around them.
There were no green “no-contact” jerseys worn by players, through all quarterbacks wore black jerseys.
Tennessee Hall of Fame coach and athletic director Phillip Fulmer came out to observe practice, a smile on his face but dress shoes on his feet, indicating he would resist the temptation to jump into coaching mode.
Pruitt, it appeared, was doing just fine without any assistance.
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