Vols talk Tennessee Football at SEC Media Days

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke to WVLT News during SEC Media Days in Hoover about how things have been going for the Vols during the offseason.

University of Tennessee Football coach, Jeremy Pruitt gave an update on the Vols at SEC Media days. / Source: (WVLT)

"Well obviously we have much better relationships with our players," said Pruitt. "We know who they are, we know what their strengths and weaknesses are. They understand our expectations of them on a daily basis so, it's been a lot smoother in everything that we've done the second time around so you know, it's been real positive."

Pruitt said he's gaining confidence in Jarrett Guarantano as a rising star quarterback,

"He's out quarterback, I believe in Jarrett," said Pruitt. "You know over the last 18 months I've got to know who he is. You know, the guy has lots of experience, he's a tough guy, got plenty of arm strength, he's a really good athlete, he understands our expectations, and he's been a tremendous leader over the last six months during the offseason."

The Vols first home game is set for Neyland on August 31.

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SENIOR LINEBACKER DARRELL TAYLOR:

On how spring practice has been and how the team looks and the goals of the team …
“Our spring practice went really well. I think we improved a lot this spring, and I think the
goals were being consistent, being relentless, and just making sure that we know things,
studying, watching film, and just being consistent on and off the field.”
On how his relationship with Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt has evolved …
“I think he has been around us a lot more, and I think he has talked with players
individually. As we leave, we do exit interviews, and he gets with players and gets to know
them, spends like an hour with them just talking about football or just talking to them
about life. I think we have built a better relationship than we had last year, and I think that
has been helpful for a lot of our players.”
On if everything that had happened in the past year took a toll on the players in the last two
games of the season …
“I think it was just us not doing what we were supposed to be doing. If we just stay the
course and work on the things we need to work on, we will be successful for a whole
season.”
On passing up leaving early for the NFL and what the reasons were for coming back …
“Well, the first reason is because I wanted to come back, get my degree and make sure I
graduate and do those things to help myself be successful off the field. I wanted to have
another shot to play football in college and with my teammates again, just to play at the
University of Tennessee and get that one last experience.”

REDSHIRT JUNIOR QUARTERBACK JARRETT GUARANTANO:
On if the turning point of last season and overall was the win at Auburn…
“I think that game meant a lot to us. I think we had not won an SEC West game in a long
time. So being able to come out of the difficult setting meant a lot to us, and it was able to
show us what we are able to do. It was definitely a boost for this year with being able to
learn from what we went through in a big away game.”
On if he thinks the previous season affects the upcoming season…
“I do think that is true, but I also think there was a lot of learning opportunities along the
way. Being able to look back at the tape, being able to see different things you had success
with and different things you want to change helps you become a better football player.”
On Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney and how he has affected him…
“Huge. We only had one spring together, but it has been very impactful and a very good
spring for us. Throughout the spring, it had been a lot of different things with terminology
and offense. I am starting to get the hang of it. We really mean a lot, just me and him,
throughout the days. I am really happy he is here. He has a lot of success throughout his
track record, and I am definitely excited about that. I am excited that he is also my offensive
coordinator.”
On other differences he has seen from last year to this year with the offensive line…
“I think those guys are taking on a bigger role, whether it is maturity or working harder.
The older guys are helping the younger guys with the offense and welcoming them to
college football, because the SEC is a difficult conference and everybody knows we are
going to need as many lineman as we can get. I am really happy with the success they have had this off season."

SENIOR LINEBACKER DANIEL BITULI:
On his hunger for success for his senior season …
“We are really excited. We’re not too focused on last year or the last two seasons. We are all
just going into this season with the right frame of mind. We are really confident in where
we are, knowing that we are ahead of where we were last year. It is really fun, and we are
really excited for this defense. We are really excited for the offense and the whole team.”
On the urgency to return to a bowl game this upcoming season…
“We’re not worried at all. We know that in order for us to get to a bowl game, we have to go
out there and win each and every day. That is what we plan on doing. Coach Pruitt and his
coaching staff have done a great job of communicating that with the team. If we want any
results on the field, we have to dominate in the offseason. That is what we are focused on
this year.”
On the bond between him and the rest of his senior class…
“We are really close. We have gone through a lot, but that has just made our bond even
tighter. All the time, we talk about the minor things that we could have cleaned up in the
years prior to this year. It is those minor things that we are going to focus on this year in
order for us to be successful.”
On the difficulty of changing the culture at Tennessee…
“It has been really hard with the coaching changes and everything that hasn’t been involved
with football. We are really excited with where we are heading. Coach Pruitt and his staff
have done a great job at communicating what needs to be done in order to win games. The
guys in the locker room are focused on his leadership. We are just following his lead and he
will take us there.”