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What's Going On in Knoxville?

Today the Florida Gators (7-1) take on the Tennessee Volunteers (2-5), or College Football’s “May Recruiting Champions.”

According to the 247sports Composite ranking, since 2018, Tennessee has enjoyed three Top-25 recruiting classes including a number 10 class in the most recent 2020 cycle. Jeremy Pruitt can recruit, but why hasn’t this success off the field resulted in more wins?

In short, development is the issue over in Knoxville. Redshirt senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has spent the better of his five years on campus as the starting quarterback. We haven’t seen him take any steps forward, and given his pedigree (Elite 11 finalist), you would expect a better statline than 6 TDs and 4 INTs on 62% completion for Guarantano. Volunteer fans have lobbied for touted freshman signal-caller Harrison Bailey to start since Guarantano’s two pick-sixes back-to-back against Kentucky.

Questionable management of the quarterback position has lingered all season for the Volunteers, and considering their recruitment of the position, Tennessee has no excuse to be in the position that they’re in. Guarantano and Bailey were four-star recruits, J.T. Shrout was a highly regarded prospect along with Brian Maurer. Quarterback has been the Achilles' heel of the Volunteers since Josh Dobbs led the team to a top-10 ranking five years ago.

Pruitt took the Head Coaching job fresh off of his position as Defensive Coordinator at Alabama. Everyone knew that Pruitt could recruit, but one thing Volunteer fans could count on was a stingy defense. Well, that didn’t hold up.

Tennessee is allowing 404.7 yards per game and 31.3 points per game this season. Though the offense isn’t doing the defense any favors, as the secondary has had problems and the defensive front hasn’t gotten pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Tennessee brought in the 10th ranked recruiting class in 2020. The team ranked number 9? The Florida Gators. The team ranked number 11? The Oregon Ducks. Both teams have enjoyed more on-field success over the years than Tennessee. Florida fans poke fun at Georgia for “doing less with more” based on the talent and stars that come into the program, but the Vols might be doing even less with the players they bring into the program. When was the last Tennessee player drafted in the first round? Derek Barnett back in 2017.

Tennessee ranks 15th in the 247sports Team Talent rankings for 2020, while the team stands at 2-5 on the season. This could be attributed to coaching or the players not buying into the scheme. Tennessee hasn’t achieved any substantial success since the 90s, and the team hasn’t held their own against rival teams in 15 years. What’s going on in Knoxville? We don’t know, but Florida fans have reaped the benefits of a one-sided rivalry for a while and it doesn’t seem like that’ll change anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football


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