The Princeton Fant experiment at linebacker was very short lived this spring as he’s already moved back to the offensive side of the ball to play running back. Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that news during his latest media availability and gave a quick explanation as to why he felt the need to shift Fant back and forth during the last week.
According to Tennessee’s coach, the move was done in an effort to gauge how successful Fant would perform in an emergency situation should the team’s linebacker depth be tested during the season.
“We saw enough with him at linebacker to know that he could do it if we had an emergency situation, Pruitt said when asked about Fant taking snaps at running back once again. “These other guys coming back and being able to take more reps, I wanted to make sure we had our best players on the field to compete against each other. Saw enough out of Princeton to know that if we got in a situation where we had an emergency, we could train him to play that position, but I feel like he would have more success on offense, so we moved him back.”
Pruitt was then asked to share his impressions of Fant as a running back this spring, as the position is new to the Tennessee native. According to Pruitt, one of his favorite things about Fant is his big frame.
“Well, he’s learning the position. He played wide receiver, I think, in high school. He was recruited here to play tight end. We originally moved him to running back because of lack of numbers for the position,” Pruitt revealed. “Watching in winter conditioning, he’s got some athletic ability about him, and I like the fact that he weighs 225 pounds.
“I like big backs. I know from a defensive side, those big backs, over the course of time, they fall forward a bunch of times, and they can handle a lot more licks. So, he’s doing fine over there.”
While he was not over the top with his praise of Fant, other than noting his larger frame — which gives him an immediate advantage over the rest of the program’s running backs this spring, Pruitt held back his praise for the collective running back unit. Consistency appears to be an issue for the Vols runners this spring.
“All of those guys, you put them out there and they all got good hands. They have pretty good vision. They’ve got good enough speed. So, I think it’s too early to kinda single any of them out,” Pruitt continued. “You can take Ty, you can take Tim (Jordan), you can take Trey (Coleman), you can take Princeton, you put them all in that one group, and they have good days and they have bad days. So, we got to find a little more consistency in all of them.”
Ty Chandler would have been the logical replacement for John Kelly under the previous coaching staff, but it appears that’s not going to be quite the open and shut case for what Pruitt wants on offense next season.