What is Tennessee trying to accomplish with spring position changes? Jeremy Pruitt explains
Change and evaluation will be a constant theme on Rocky Top this spring. Whether it’s the new coaching staff attempting to get their message out or their scheme installed, every single player on Tennessee’s roster is having to adjust to something. However, some are being asked to learn much more than others.
Jeremy Pruitt singled out four Volunteers in particular following the first practice of spring for Tennessee that are being asked to learn a new position in addition to the culture and schematic changes that are ongoing in Knoxville.
Junior Carlin Fils-Aime is switching from running back to cornerback, redshirt freshman Princeton Fant from tight end to running back, redshirt sophomore Ja’Quain Blakely from defensive line to tight end and junior Tyler Byrd (finally if you ask most Tennessee fans) is moving from wide receiver back to defensive back where he played in high school.
So what exactly is Pruitt hoping to see from these players early this spring?
“I would say the big thing is they’re all willing. They’re all willing to train, they’re willing to try a new position, which is important,” Pruitt said. “I’ve seen over the years, you possibly move a guy to a different position, he agrees to it, and then he’s not really all in. These guys are trying to understand and comprehend what we’re trying to get done, and they’re giving effort to give it a chance.”
One move that was unexpected heading into spring was Princeton Fant’s move to running back. After being signed as a receiver in the 2017 recruiting class and missing his entire first season due to injury, the new Tennessee staff is attempting to find a place for the mid-state native.
Here’s what Pruitt had to say about Fant’s position switch this spring following the first practice as Tennessee coach.
“Long-term position, I don’t know,” Pruitt said. “When he got here, he went to the tight end room to start with. When we got here, we sent him to another room. We are going to give him a shot at running back and see where it goes. He is going to do that for about seven days. We have several guys who are working at seven days for different positions, and then we are going to reevaluate them and see if they need to go back.”