Vince’s View: Pruitt has signed 46 of 84 scholarship players, 4-stars rule Vols roster

Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt with defensive players / Credit: Sam Forman – WNML

Let’s take a look at the 2019 Tennessee football roster in the summer, 5 weeks ahead of SEC Football Media Days.

Tennessee Scholarships (84)
QB 3
RB 5
WR 10
OL 15
DL 12
LB 12
DB 18
ST 3
Vince’s View: The defensive back unit is huge. Yes, the UT defense has 5 DBs on the field a majority of the time, but that still gets to 4-deep on the depth chart at three spots. Those numbers tell me that there’s been some underperforming by older players and that Jeremy Pruitt is still searching for answers besides Thompson, Taylor and Warrior in the present and everywhere for the future.

Games Played/Starts By Positions
QB 21/18
RB 88/14
WR 182/67
TE/HB/FB 33/11
OL 125/69
DL 95/3
LB 137/37
DB 177/61
ST 66/0
Total: 924/280
*Only 23 players have started more than one game in college (27%)
*Only 33 players have a started one game in college (39%)
Vince’s View: The defensive line jumps out in its shortage of experience. One of those three starts combined at that position was by LaTrell Bumphus at TE. Wide receiver is full of experience. 10 players totaling 67 starts is pretty good. Tight end is also very inexperienced, overall, despite having a quality one-year starter in Dominick Wood-Anderson.

UT’s Roster by Highest Star Ratings (84)
5-stars 5
4-stars 46
3-stars 32
2-stars 1
*51 players are either 4 or 5 stars using their highest rating in any service (61%)
Vince’s View: I included the numbers based on highest rating for any single service because that’s what many reference about a player. These numbers are the reason why many Vols fans expect UT to be better than it was last year and better than the analysts think of 6 or 7 wins. It is also why ESPN’s Football Power Index has Tennessee ranked 15th. They use recruiting rankings and returning starters to help project success. If Pruitt’s staff can make a development jump of that talent in year two then UT just might give fans that much better record.

UT’s Roster by Average Star Ratings (84)
5-stars 4
4-stars 31
3-stars 47
2-stars 1
Not rated 1
*35 players are either 4 or 5 stars using the average star rating (42%)
Vince’s View: This is the more accurate star rating numbers to the Vols roster, in my opinion. It also more closely matches the performances of the players in recent years, average at best.

Potential Starters Signed By Butch Jones (12)
QB Jarrett Guarantano
RB Ty Chandler
WR Jauan Jennings
WR Marquez Callaway
WR Josh Palmer
OL K’Rojhn Calbert
DE Matthew Butler
LB Darrell Taylor
LB Daniel Bituli
LB Shanon Reid
S/NB Nigel Warrior
CB Baylen Buchanan
Vince’s View: There are certainly positions up in the air that depends on who has improved over the summer and settling guys in at specific positions. I’m also going off of a 4-2-5 defense with OLB Darrell Taylor as the 4th DE either standing up at the line of scrimmage or with his hand down. If they go with Warrior at Nickel Back then Buchanan gets bumped off for a 2nd safety, possibly Theo Jackson or eventually freshman Jaylen McCullough. Calbert is also a projection in a wide open offensive line with many unknowns including the health of Trey Smith. If he’s ready to go, he’s obviously added to this group of signed Butch Jones starters.

Other Players Signed By Butch Jones (26)
RB Tim Jordan
RB Carlin Fils-aime
WR Brandon Johnson
WR Jordan Murphy
WR Tyler Byrd
WR Jacquez Jones
FB/TE Austin Pope
FB/TE Princeton Fant
OL Ryan Johnson
OL Marcus Tatum
OL Nathan Niehaus
OL Riley Locklear
OL Trey Smith
DL LaTrell Bumphus
DL Ja’Quain Blakely
LB Will Ignont
LB Deandre Johnson
LB Kivon Bennett
LB Solon Page III
DB Shawn Shamburger
DB Theo Jackson
DB Cheyenne Labruzza
DB Maleik Gray
DB Terrell Bailey
PK Brent Cimaglia
LS Riley Lovingood
*38 of 84 signed by Jones
Vince’s View: As referenced above, Trey Smith wouldn’t be on this list if we knew for sure he was playing. Offensive linemen Ryan Johnson and Marcus Tatum are candidates to start. The second linebacker spot alongside Daniel Bituli is up in the air now with the retirement of Darrin Kirkland Jr. It could be Ignont or one of the newer Pruitt signed players. When UT is in their “base” 3-4, that changes the personnel. That moves Deandre Johnson into the starting lineup at outside linebacker or another one of the younger Pruitt signed players like freshman Quavaris Crouch (initially inside but eventually outside at LB,) JJ Peterson or who knows, freshmen summer enrolls, Roman Harrison or Henry To’oto’o.

Potential Starters Signed By Jeremy Pruitt (10)
TE Dominick Wood-Anderson
OL Jahmir Johnson
OL Brandon Kennedy
OL Wanya Morris
OL Darnell Wright
DT Emmit Gooden
DE Aubrey Solomon (not yet eligible in 2019)
CB Bryce Thompson
CB Alontae Taylor
S Trevon Flowers
Vince’s View: There’s plenty to debate among these starters as well. I’m projecting that we’ll see the two true freshmen, Morris and Wright, starting at the tackle spots. Without Trey Smith, it opens the door for Jahmir Johnson at guard. Also, if Solomon doesn’t get his expected waiver for immediate eligibility, as a transfer from Michigan, then that could change as well.

Other Players Signed By Jeremy Pruitt (36)
QB JT Shrout
QB Brian Maurer
RB Jeremy Banks
RB Eric Gray
WR Cedric Tillman
WR Ramel Keyton
WR Jerrod Means
TE Jacob Warren
TE Jackson Lowe
TE Sean Brown
OL Jerome Carvin
OL Ollie Lane
OL Chris Akporoghene
OL Jackson Lampley
OL Melvin McBride
DL John Mincey
DL Kurott Garland
DL Kingston Harris
DL Greg Emerson
DL Darel Middleton
DL Savion Williams
DL Elijah Simmons
LB Jordan Allen
LB JJ Peterson
LB Quavaris Crouch
LB Roman Harrison
LB Henry To’oto’o
DB Brandon Davis
DB Jaylen McCullough
DB Tyus Fields
DB Warren Burrell
DB Aaron Beasley
DB Deangelo Gibbs (not yet eligible in 2019)
DB Kenneth George Jr. (suspended)
DB Kenney Solomon (blue shirt, not announced yet)
P Paxton Brooks
*46 of 84 signed by Pruitt
*Vince’s View: For the exception of some older transfers, this group is littered with younger players from Pruitt’s first two signing classes trying to develop and find their way into the starting lineup. If any of the three summer enroll defensive linemen are ready to make an instant impact, there are starting positions available for the taking to change things from the current. This group will certainly have more guys slide into the starting lineup as the season goes on, either because they’ve improved or because some older Butch Jones signed players aren’t getting it done.

Summary Of All The Numbers
I say this all the time on radio and TV shows…if the Jones players were the right players that have been underdeveloped then Pruitt can win quickly, if they are wrong and can’t get better or fit what Pruitt wants then the rebuild will take longer than fans want.

If a large amount of the remaining Butch Jones players are the “right” players that were signed that can still be developed by this revamped Jeremy Pruitt staff, then you’ll see this team exceed realistic predictions.

If many of the Butch Jones signed players have peaked or others that haven’t made an impact are the “wrong” players for Jeremy Pruitt and the staff can’t find a way to overcome that, then this team will again be around .500.

On top of that, the roster turnover will take even longer. 55% Pruitt players now will need to get to 100% Pruitt players in the following two years. Problem is, coaches at major jobs like Tennessee don’t get four years to have a full roster of their own players before the winning happens.

Gotta coach’em up, right?

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