Neyland Jr. details talking with Pruitt after Kentucky win

Neyland Jr. details talking with Pruitt after Kentucky win

Football

Neyland Jr. details talking with Pruitt after Kentucky win

Jeremy Pruitt

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee (5-6, 2-5 SEC) needs one more win to become bowl eligible.

UT’s chance at the postseason will come in a winner-take-all bowl berth contest at Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5 SEC) to conclude the regular season.

Vanderbilt enters the game having won four of the last six matchups against Tennessee and are looking to clinch their fifth bowl appearance this decade.

Ahead of the regular season finale, VFL wingback (1951-53) and son of legendary General Robert Neyland, Robert Neyland Jr. discussed Jeremy Pruitt’s first season at Tennessee with Vols Wire that has included two top-25 wins over No. 12 Kentucky and at No. 21 Auburn (Amway Coaches Poll).

“Whether we get beat by Vanderbilt or not, I am encouraged because not a lot of teams can say they beat two ranked teams,” Neyland Jr. said. “It’s too bad they were beat by Missouri, but those things happen and you just go on and try and do the best that you can.”

Auburn 2018

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Neyland Jr. understands the importance of finishing the regular season bowl eligible, but he also will not be discouraged with a loss to the Commodores since Pruitt does not have his entire team yet with his own players.

“I hope they can go 6-6, but if they don’t I’m not going to be discouraged about them because after all, he (Pruitt) is playing mostly with Butch Jones’ recruits,” he said. “Coach Pruitt has them playing with intensity, especially against Auburn and Kentucky, and that was something sadly lacking last year. He has them playing with real effort and intensity.”

Kentucky 2018

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Following Tennessee’s win over Kentucky, Neyland Jr. spoke with Pruitt.

“After the Kentucky game I talked with him and I told him I was glad to see some old-fashioned gang-tackling out there,” he said. “It was very kind for him to talk with me.”

Neyland Jr. went on to say that he has “confidence in Pruitt” and “once he gets his own people in, that we will see some real improvement next year.”

Phillip Fulmer

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Having Phillip Fulmer as director of athletics is another element that Neyland Jr. views as an asset for Pruitt to continue moving Tennessee in the direction of competing for championships.

“I think he has a real good relationship with him (Fulmer),” Neyland Jr. said. “Pruitt is honest that he wants to bring Tennessee back to the level that it used to have. It will take him probably three years to really do it, but by that time I think we will be competitive with almost anybody.”

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