KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jeremy Pruitt and his staff opened spring football drills at Haslam Field getting right to the point with the returning players.
“One thing we’re going to do is we’re gonna be demanding, and we’re going to confront them if they don’t do things the way we expect them to do it,” Pruitt said following practice Tuesday. “The players responded.”
Pruitt announced that defensive tackle Quay Picou “will not be part of the team this spring.” Pruitt’s wording could leave the door open for Picou to return in the fall, as neither a suspension nor injury was referenced.
Redshirt freshman Princeton Fant practiced with the running backs after arriving at Tennessee as a receiver and moving to tight end. Pruitt said he’ll leave the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Fant with that group for seven days before determining whether he’ll move him back with the tight ends.
Other position changes included:
• Tyler Byrd moving from receiver to defensive back
• Carlin Fils-aime moving from tailback to cornerback
• Jay Blakely from defensive end to tight end
Pruitt made it clear things weren’t ideal on Day 1 of his on-field coaching tenure — even though he had held a couple of coaching practice walk-throughs to ensure time was optimized.
“It’s new for everybody. It’s new for the coaches, new for the training staff, new for the strength staff,” Pruitt said. “It’s going to be a learning experience in how we practice.”
Pruitt said he’ll continue to spend most of his time at practice on defense, where he has the most expertise. But, he pointed out, he can see and evaluate the offense from that vantage point.
Pruitt said the players who were doing injury rehabilitation work at practice — offensive linemen Trey Smith and K’Rohjn Calbert and defensive backs DJ Henderson and Todd Kelly Jr. — were expected to return for fall drills.
Pruitt didn’t spend much time talking about the sidelined players, even though the Vols are down to eight healthy scholarship offensive linemen in spring drills.
“Numbers wise, we’ve got as many numbers as anybody. It’s at certain positions where we’re short,” Pruitt said. “This happens everywhere. We have to find a way to figure it out and get it done.”
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