No one seems to know what will happen at Tennessee when it comes to Jeremy Pruitt’s status on Rocky Top but things continue to trend in the right direction when it comes to a rebound season for the Volunteers in 2021.

After landing former Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker, the Vols then added former Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele — one of the best recruiters and defensive minds in recent SEC history — to Pruitt’s staff and also landed a commitment from All-SEC defender Big Kat Bryant, who plans to transfer in from Auburn.

Now comes word from Austin Price of Volquest that Tennessee senior tight end Austin Pope has made the decision to return to the Volunteers for one final season. According to Volquest, Pope was recruited by Missouri, Illinois, Northwestern and others after entering the portal.

Pope announced his decision to enter the transfer portal in mid-December after missing the entire 2020 season due to back injuries. Pope was Tennessee’s starting tight end in 2019.

For his college career, Pope — a Knoxville native — has just seven catches for 85 yards but is regarded as one of the premier blocking tight ends in the country.

While Pruitt’s status may be unclear at this moment, the latest developments from Knoxville indicate there are many buying into the future of the Tennessee program.