Brad Shepard

  • The only way to put a forgettable ’18 National Signing Day in the rearview mirror is to move ahead to the 2019 recruiting class, and new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and Co., already have started building […]

  • Hey, listen: Let’s just call National Signing Day 2018 what it was, independent of passing judgment on any of the kids who signed to be Tennessee Volunteers and without heaping criticism on new UT coach Jeremy […]

    • “Pruitt entered his first [mini] recruiting cycle swinging for the fences, aiming at marquee players who were unsigned, hell-bent on bringing at least a couple of them to Knoxville. None of those materialized in commitments.

      Zero. Zilch. Nada.”

      I think JJ Peterson would count as a marquee player who was unsigned that materialized in a commitment, right?

    • Honest assessment and good (though sobering) write-up, Brad.

    • What do we expect? 0-8 SEC team with almost no time to build relationships with kids going up against National Champions, ACC Champs and SEC East winner with great recruiters and two years of history. To end up with a top 25 class and several 4 stars is really a testament to UT’s brand…Should have been much worse.

  • As we wind down below a week until National Signing Day, this is the most clueless I’ve ever been on how Tennessee is going to finish its 2018 recruiting class.

    There are so many names on the board, and while […]

    • Damn. That is a fantastic read. Always appreciate your work/insight here and on other sites. Thanks Brad. And go Vols.

    • Good read Brad. I just moved to Houston area a couple of months ago (used to be IndyVolFan). I know we’re on a Katy kid and one from Oak Ridge which is 5 minutes from my work in Woodlands. I’ll go see them this fall and report what they look like in person. On a basketball note, I wish Barnes could have gotten in on Quentin Grimes (#8 I think in 24/7 and Kansas commit). He’s the best kid I’ve ever seen at this level (in person) and the smoothest player since Alan Houston (my UT days). I’ve seen most of the top Indiana kids over the last several years and they don’t touch this kid (Conley, Oden, George Hill, Bluitt, Jaren Jackson – he was in our conference b4 transferring to Lumierre). Absolutely amazing ball player.

    • Great read, Brad. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. We finally have us a football coach.

    • This showed up in my Facebook “On This Day” today and while there are a variety of emotions it brings out, I am mainly looking at it as a reminder not to get too ________ (too excited, too upset, too whatever) about NSD: http://grantland.com/features/tennessee-volunteers-butch-jones-signing-day-2014/

      • Yeah. In the same boat. I’ve been actively working to resist the temptation to go back and listen to the podcast we did after Jones was hired. Scared to death I might hear myself say the same things I said right after Pruitt was hired. So, right now I’m in I CAN’T HEAR YOU NANANANANANANANA mode.

  • New Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt is swinging for the fences on several elite, playmaking athletes as the days tick off toward national signing day.

    But, due to the Vols needing depth at key positions, […]

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    Three days ago, Jordan Young was a barely-known, unranked wide receiver who was toiling in obscurity in broad daylight. At 6’2″, 185 pounds, he certainly had the size, played in the Atlanta suburb of […]

    • He was a second team all Georgia WR not sure how everyone just missed on him but I am glad they did now that he is a Vol

    • This seems like excellent evaluation. A top 20 recruiting class so far is pretty amazing.

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    According to VolQuest.com’s Austin Price, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has filled the final vacancy on his coaching staff, choosing Memphis wide receivers coach David Johnson to coach the same position […]

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    If you watched Tennessee play football in 2017 and you then watched Alabama’s performance in the College Football Playoff semifinal trouncing of Clemson, you know the Vols have a long way to go to get to […]

    • He looks like he some DOG in him. I think unlike resent all hype recruits his attitude might actually appear on the field.

  • New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has found the man he expects will prepare the Vols to morph into a bigger, more physical SEC program. On Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported that Craig Fitzgerald resigned […]

    • This is probably not the place to discuss this, but maybe it is as good a place as any since injuries were mentioned again here. Writers, fans, butch jones etc often talk about all of the injuries the Vols have had over the last couple of years. I’ve begun to wonder if some, or maybe many of them may have been players who just didnt want to play for Butch. Obviously you cant go with a broken limb, but there are a lot of guys who play through less significant injuries all the time and linemen are basically hurt from start of the season to finish. Concussion symptoms could easily be played up. I’m not accusing anyone of anything sinister, it just seems like a tempting and viable out if you wanted out. My kids fake sickness and injury all the time to get out of work. 🙂

      Give it to me straight, I can take it. Am I way off base?

    • Not sure if this will help with the injuries…
      https://sportsnaut.com/2017/12/texans-used-record-number-players-2017/

      • I saw that! I think the point I didnt articulate was that I would bet that the whole injury thing just clears itself up no matter who is the strength coach.

        • There have been numerous breakdowns of the Texans injuries this year and very few point to poor conditioning. We still let Fitz go. Not sure if an audit of the Vols injuries this year would cast a doubt on conditioning or not. Personally I think the UT issue may have been strength in general.

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    A huge part of being a great basketball team is overcoming adversity, and that’s the simple reason why this Tennessee team has to settle for “very good” right now.

    It’s going to take a major breakthrough […]

    • I listened to this on the way home from Nashville, so I can’t speak for the visuals or the correctness of the foul calls.

      However, I do think the “can’t close” stuff needs context. Tennessee closed against Purdue on a neutral floor, in regulation and in overtime. Purdue is currently #4 in KenPom.

      Villanova wasn’t a closing issue. They had the lead five minutes into the second half and never gave it up. Also, Nova is the best team in the country by a healthy margin. I’m not nitpicking that one.

      North Carolina and Arkansas do both feature preventable turnovers at crucial moments. Those need to be teachable, correctable moments. But UNC is ninth in KenPom, Arkansas 22nd and playing at home with, as Brad noted, two of our three best options fouled out.

      If we’re as good as we think we are, I don’t think this was a game Tennessee “needed” to win. We’ll see how they respond against Auburn, but I still find more validation in today’s performance than disappointment beyond the moment.

      A more important takeaway than what we do or don’t do in the last couple minutes, to me: we’ve got an issue dealing with great guard play. Villanova hurt us there, Joel Berry hurt us, and Arkansas got what they wanted from their guards too. We won’t see this level of talent in every backcourt, and we still almost won all three games anyway. But defending a great backcourt is red flag number one for us right now.

    • Will is right. This isn’t about Barnes inability to coach or to lead us properly to close out games. This whole theme is a bit ridiculous.

      We’ve lost 3 games this year – all to top 10 RPI teams. The players (not Barnes) went mental in the UNC game and blew the lead under pressure. At Arkansas, an incredibly difficult place to win, the Hogs got hot and we also went mental with our two best players on the bench. When you end up with 4 players unavailable in OT due to fouls, we should talk about the zebras’ influence on the game, not Barnes’. Even still, we closed OT really well – after digging a huge 11 point hole as Arkansas lit us up from 3 and we did nothing on offense for 3 and half minutes of OT. And we closed without experienced leadership on the floor.

      We have had ZERO bad losses and have won every game we’re supposed to. When was the last time we had a coach do that? (It’s the main reason Cuonzo was fired….)

      Several of those wins required closing out the game against pesky and/or quality opponents -Top 50 RPI Furman and Purdue in OT come to mind. Btw, that Purdue win will look pretty good at year end.

      This is coming form a team that’s ranked in the top 25 and was a preseason pick at 13th in the SEC.

    • In spite of your protestations, I’m still hot under the collar about that foul call on Grant Williams when we were up by 9 late. That was not a foul, and it changed the trajectory of the game, both in the moment and subsequently when Williams fouled out earlier than he should have.

    • Good catch on Daniels’ bad 3 starting the run. With 3:30 to go, we were up 8 and had the ball. 24 seconds later, it was a 3-point game.

      Though it wasn’t a “bad” loss, it was incredibly frustrating and ramps up the pressure tonight and the next few games to claw back a win that we had in our hands.

  • Under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, getting Tennessee back to relevance is going to be an arduous rebuilding project, and 2018 will be a fresh start.

    There’s going to be a little more newness after Friday’s […]

    • Wishing him best of luck but as of now he is not listed as a top 30 RB in the draft. Given the fact he was suspended for misdemeanor drug possession he might end up as a undrafted free agent. I am all for kids going pro so they can get paid but I fear he might not get the chance

    • If Pruitt can bring the OL to respectable in 2018, we can win 6-7 games with the running backs we have now. To win ten games everything has to be installed (like 3-4) and other position groups either transformed or recruited to fit. Maybe 2019?

      In the short run, Kelly’s absence might not make any real difference. He sort of emerged out of almost nowhere as our RB savior. Hope it all works out well for him.

    • I wish him the best.

      But I don’t think this is his best move. I think he has the talent to be in the NFL, but with how bad the team fell apart this year, he never got to showcase it. And that may cost him. I think if he had stayed, he would have had a good shot to have a better season personally and as a team. Thus showcasing his talents better for better opportunities in the draft.

  • Yesterday, we took a look at Tennessee’s early offensive signees. Now, let’s examine the five defenders who the Vols desperately need to come in and provide some immediate help.

    With defensive-minded head coach […]

  • Tennessee’s 2018 recruiting class was looking rough for a while after Butch Jones was fired, the prior administration — led by rogue athletic director John Currie — botched hiring his replacement and Alabama […]

    • To me JT Shrout is the most intriguing players the Vols will sign this class. Drawing praise from NFL scouts is never a bad thing. If he lives up to that praise and is coached up he can be a game changer in that he will attract top notch recruits to play along side him

  • Tennessee would have liked to hit a home run today as the first ever early signing period kicked off, but thanks to a coaching change and a short window for new head man Jeremy Pruitt, UT will have to settle for a […]

    • I wonder if Austin Thomas had wound up at Tennessee if that would have helped get Traore? Any day we get flip commits and no one flips from us is a pretty good one though.

  • What wound up being a surprise visit from a “mystery” quarterback last weekend appears as though it will manifest itself as a Tennessee quarterback commitment.

    JT Shrout, a 6’3″, 190-pound quarterback from […]

    • Pete replied 2 months ago

      He’s also the kind of QB candidate who isn’t going to make QD/JG want to transfer. The guy clearly is raw with a very high ceiling. I’d worry about development under the championship mental reps crew but expect a normal staff to do something with the kid. At least we aren’t stealing him from a MAC school…

    • According to 247 it’s official that Shrout committed to Tennessee.

      https://247sports.com/Player/JT-Shrout-46037900

    • So far 8 signatures and 6 left. I hope nobody is flipped especially since 3 of those 6 are 4*s. Do you think we’ll flip and sign any more?

    • *sigh* Cade Mays went to UGAly..

    • Emerson and Lawless signed making that ten signatures! I can’t wait to see those two guys wreak havoc on the line!

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    Don’t look at the recruiting rankings right now.

    No, I mean it. Don’t. Please.

    A Tennessee recruiting class that once climbed as high as third nationally before coach Butch Jones’ fiefdom came crashing […]

    • Aight.

    • I haven’t really been concerned. It’s still way early in the process and most of the attrition I’ve seen has been change of scheme kind of stuff. I was a little surprised to see Griffith’s article, actually. Nothing I’ve read other than that has made it seem like Coach Pruitt is struggling. Normally I like Griffith’s work but this seemed mostly like click bait.

      • I don’t know if it was intentionally sensationalistic, but “struggling” was definitely a poor word choice.

    • Well, it looks like we got the two recruits from Cordova that we wanted, along with the California QB. Bumped our ranking to 31 overall and 10th in the SEC. Some of the drop in the rankings I think had to do with a lack of overall numbers. We went from 20+ commits to 10. Class size matters in the rankings.

  • As new Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt stood in front of an orange-clad contingent to be introduced Thursday, he told an anecdote about starting his career as an elementary school P.E. teacher in Fort […]

    • He will only be as good as the assistants he gets to surround him.

      7-5 his first year would be a good start and a jump to 9 wins would be what I am looking for in year 2 ( cupcakes non conference and i believe ‘Ole Piss will replace Auburn).

      I’m all for giving a fair shot .

      GO BIG ORANGE

    • Dooley seemed to fit right in too. He even said “britches.”

      Pruitt definitely seems to be more of a cultural fit than Butch was, but just like Butch he will ultimately be judged on wins and losses. Let’s hope for more of the former.

  • After a coaching search that felt like it spanned generations, took years off lives, ended jobs, tarnished reputations, caused power struggles between a major university’s boosters and administrators — as well as […]

    • Cautiously excited!

    • You announce Pruitt the week Butch is fired and I think most Vol fans are pretty disappointed. But the way this search has gone, it feels like a home run. So… good job?

      I think Pruitt can be extremely successful –
      he’s been an up-and-coming “rock star” for years now – let’s hope he does it here. And let’s hope that Dabo wants the Bama job when Saban retires.

      Go Vols.

      • I think there would have been some letdown, but not a huge one. I think people would be able to build excitement over his record and potential.

        But with the show that went on for the last couple of weeks, yea, he looks to be a great get for HC. Myself, and I’m sure many others, are simply relieved to have it finally ending. And with someone who has a good amount of potential for success.

        • Most of the fans I saw – online and IRL – were excited that “THIS time it’s going to be different!!” With Hart gone, the roster in better shape, and what seemed like deep pockets, most fans were thinking that we could get an established name with HC experience. I think people would have been unhappy taking a flyer on a coordinator with no HC experience back then.

          • Agreed, though I still think we would have talked ourselves into him faster than we did Butch Jones.

            Of everyone Tennessee reportedly talked to, I think only Gundy would have been unanimously celebrated had John Currie trotted him out two weeks ago instead of Schiano. Even Brohm and Leach would have been, “Can’t we do better?” hires if they were perceived to be our first choice back then. It’s an interesting what-if to think of who else might have been interested before this thing went nuclear had we not zeroed in on Schiano, one I hope we happily avoid with Pruitt being successful.

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    More than nine years ago, an emotional Phillip Fulmer rode out of the Tennessee spotlight on the shoulders of his players after a career where he went 152-52. Though it had been a tumultuous final season, he […]

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    Today will go down in college football history, and the narrative will not be kind to Tennessee fans following a social-media frenzy that included state legislators, prominent boosters, former players and […]

    • ” We will buy our tickets and fill your stadium”

      Actually Brad no we will NOT !!!

      I as well as a lot of people now days like to voice our opinions with our wallets. A typical family of 4 would spend $600 plus on tickets/concessions/souvenirs at one game.

      The product on the field better be worth it for me to spend that type of money for a few hours on a given Saturday

    • Bev to John… “Well John, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into”. Go Vols!!

    • Just my opinion but David Blackburn is not doing anything as he resigned at UTC AD a few months ago. But replacing Currie right now puts us further behind on a coaching search. Or we could just go completely radical and fire Currie and crowd source the AD and football HC hires.

    • Apparently after Sunday, Tennessee has reached out to Brohm and Martin. Hopefully this won’t get screwed up, but I don’t know how candidates will take Currie seriously.

    • It’s not really sympathy, but this is a really great article that might improve your spirits in a time where it seems every sports media hates us. I encourage everyone to take a look. I feel it really captures a lot of what I was thinking.

      https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/27/greg-schiano-tennessee-coach-protest-penn-state

    • Hah, great minds!

    • While most of the national media is excoriating TN fans, I appreciated Andy Staples take: https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/27/greg-schiano-tennessee-coach-protest-penn-state

      Oh wait, edit: haha Isaac Bishop just posted the same story! Great minds…
      But yes, I think this nicely captures where the ultimate responsibility for this fiasco rests: Currie et. al.
      Also, in his podcast, Staples notes the existence of a substantial conflict of interest for many national media members: the desire to stay on Jimmy Sexton’s good side and not talk badly about Schiano.

    • Finebaum ripped Currie a new one.

      https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/tennessee-football/paul-finebaum-blasts-tennessee-ad-john-currie-handling-greg-schiano-situation/

      With him reeling, can we trust Currie to make it right? There doesn’t seem to be another alternative besides Currie being removed.

      • Now the boosters want him out. It’s probably inevitable at this point.

        • Probably, but that’s going to cost a lot. 5.5 million according to his MOU unless they can find some reason to fire him for cause (as long as I’m reading it right).

          • I’m sure you are right, but how the heck does an AD make $5.5M ??? Even if you think of him as the CEO for the football and basketball brands at UT, it seems like an over payment.

            • I don’t think he’s making $5.5 million a year, if that’s what you mean.

              I read somewhere that he gets $100k per month left on his contract. And his contract ran to some point in 2022.

              So I’d bet he makes in that same $1 mil a year area. Still a lot, but I’d bet in line with most AD’s at the big schools.

              • Good point. I wasn’t clear. That’s what I get for commenting while on a conf call. Should have said, “how does he merit a $5.5M severance”? I’m sure it’s market with other SEC ADs but seems like very few of them are worth it.

    • Looks like Tee Martin is the new number one target.

      Kiffin is being mentioned a bunch, especially by Majors.

      I have a feeling Broom said no. Kinda wonder who’s next after these candidates?

      • Ya know, it makes me a bit queasy to say this, but I think I could choke down a second round of Kiffin. I didn’t think I’d ever get there, but I might just be there now.

        All of the really good choices are gone. I think the public perception on the Schiano debacle (and I agree with Brad here that I think those in the national media are off about him) means any sliver of a chance we had a stealing a big name from another school is gone. I’m not super thrilled about any of the names being tossed around. But I’d still take any of them of Schiano, anyone else connected to that scandal or Briales/Baylor.

        Kiffin was brash and a diva. He had some recruiting violations. But, those are minor compared to what we were just offered. And he at least knew how to coach, and has shown it in multiple places. My hope would be that he has learned a bit from Saban to tone it down a bit, not that he needs to entirely mimic Saban. If he can do that, I’d be willing to give him a second chance.

        *Side note: I don’t get why people are shocked about not wanting any connection to the Sandusky scandal. To me the same applies to Briles/Baylor. I’m super interested after this to see the reactions if someone from the Briles scandal is ever hired and how that gets portrayed.

        • Granted, I thought there was a 0.0% chance we would hire Schiano…but I think there’s a 0.0% chance it’s Lane Kiffin.

          • Fair enough, I claim no real insight as to what might actually happen. Never have had “insider” info. Most on here have more real insight as to what might happen. I just like to state who I like and think would be a good hire. And I’ve just about reached that point of standing a second go of Kiffin.

            I saw a couple of things about Tee Martin becoming a top candidate now. Again, I wasn’t too hot on the idea of that when he was brought up during phase 1 of this search. That mostly had to do with whether or not he was ready to be a HC or not. I loved the dream of Gruden coming in and bringing Tee back into the fold as the new OC though and having a large contingent of Vols on the staff in general (I was aware enough to no that was an extremely unlikely scenario at least).

            Given the situation now, I’d be pretty happy with him as HC, and still the added bonus of him being back in the fold obviously.

            But like I said, just my opinion. What do I know? lol ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Davenport didn’t sign the memorandum of understanding. Schiano can’t sue lol.

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