SEC Country reporter Blake Morgan will candidly answer your Tennessee sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day . Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryVols, Tennessee Insiders Facebook page or by email to Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This question was posted on a story about running back Madre London, who committed earlier in the week. London, a graduate transfer from Michigan State, told SEC Country he wanted to be at the start of “ a great football era” at Tennessee.
Mr. Johnson, the Facebook commenter, obviously is jaded by the last few seasons of Tennessee football. Injuries and stagnant player development hampered the Vols from reaching their full potential under Butch Jones.
There is plenty of depth issues at almost every position, though. Questions at quarterback, offensive line and cornerback might be enough to derail the season if they aren’t adequately answered.
What is a realistic timetable for Pruitt to get things moving in the right direction on Rocky Top?
With the expectation that 2018 will be a rebuilding effort, I think 2019 is when we’ll find out about the direction of Pruitt’s tenure. There is enough young talent and momentum to be had on the recruiting trail to expect a leap in production in Pruitt’s second year.
A coach’s second season at the helm of a program typically provides enough signs that indicate whether things are going to work out.
Alabama coach Nick Saban went 12-2 in Year 2 with the Crimson Tide. Georgia coach Kirby Smart proved all the doubters wrong by going 13-2 in Year 2. Gus Malzahn had 20 wins by the end of his second season at Auburn. Dan Mullen won nine games and finished No. 15 in the AP poll in Year 2 at Mississippi State.
The successful coaches in the SEC usually have things figured out by their second season. Conversely, Jones won seven games in his second season with the Vols. Derek Dooley led the Vols to a 5-7 mark in his second season.
There are exceptions, of course. Will Muschamp won 11 games in his second season at Florida before that situation turned ugly. Gene Chizik won a National Championship in Year 2 at Auburn, although he had help from quarterback Cam Newton and offensive coordinator Malzahn.
Pruitt and his strong coaching staff will have had about 18 months to put an imprint on the program by the time their second season at Tennessee kicks off. He will have added his 2019 recruiting class, which could be ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Tennessee fans, for the most part, know Pruitt isn’t walking into the best situation. Two seasons might not be enough time to change things, but there is young talent on this roster – Trey Smith, Ty Chandler, Nigel Warrior, JJ Peterson.
If Pruitt and the staff can develop that talent and recruit at a high level, Tennessee shouldn’t have a problem winning eight or nine games in 2019.
For answers to prior Tennessee Questions of the Day, click here .
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