Why did things fall apart in Knoxville?

That question has been asked many times. Former Tennessee receiver Josh Smith has had to answer it many times. On Friday, he was asked about it one more time during an appearance on WNML’s SportsTalk.

Smith’s answer was telling.

“I think it’s just the want to be there,” Smith said. “It just takes the whole team to really buy into a program and I just felt like there were some loose ends in some areas. But there were injuries with a bunch of people, there was a lot controversy, but there were a lot of guys in there who were fighting their heads off and their bodies for this program.”

Smith continued.

“But really just buying in and being a team. Not just little cliques here and there…it’s gotta be a whole family,” Smith said. “The past couple years have just been a brotherhood. Guys like Alvin (Kamara), Cam (Sutton) and (Josh) Dobbs, all of them. We were all a family. That’s why we were doing so well.

“There can’t be any loose ends with anyone. There has to be all the chemistry together. This last year especially, I think we kinda lost that.”

Smith had an injury-plagued career, which ended in the middle of the 2017 season. He’s currently training to make it in the NFL, and he said he feels like he did when he was in high school. Part of that, according to Smith, is because his current workouts are more geared to his needs as opposed to the bulk-focused program he was on at Tennessee.

Even as Smith moves on to the next phase of his career, he’ll still have his eye on the Vols. That, he said, shouldn’t be as painful as it was during his final season in 2017.

Smith said that new coach Jeremy Pruitt will be more of a disciplinarian, which Tennessee “needs” and that he won’t allow guys to cut corners.

“It’s been a rough go,” Smith said. “But the future’s bright.”