Part 1: Vitello’s working relationship with Pruitt

Part 1: Vitello’s working relationship with Pruitt

Baseball

Part 1: Vitello’s working relationship with Pruitt

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee’s baseball season is set to begin February 15.

The Vols finished 29-27 (12-18, SEC) in Tony Vitello’s first season as UT’s head coach.

With the 2019 season two months away, Vitello sat down with Vols Wire to discuss a variety of topics in a three-part series.

In the first-part, Vitello discussed Tennessee’s football program as Jeremy Pruitt’s first season recently concluded, finishing 5-7 (2-6, SEC) in 2018.

“If you see it as a fan and we are on a talk show, you are going to have some skeptics and some people are believers because the results were exactly that, they were two-sided – some good and some bad,” Vitello told Vols Wire.

Through a coach’s eye, the second-year UT head coach views a culture change throughout Tennessee’s football program.

“If you look at the situation through a coach’s eye, like Coach Fulmer would, you see the culture shifting,” Vitello said of UT’s football program. “You see some negatives being weeded out and you see some positives being implemented.”

Wins over ranked Auburn and Kentucky teams in 2018 are examples that Pruitt is guiding the program in the right direction, but needs time to bring his players into the program. Vitello even benefited on a big recruiting weekend when Tennessee beat No. 11 Kentucky at Neyland Stadium.

“You see momentum that makes it exciting to be at our place and I think a couple of the guys that have sat in my office as of late, whether they play baseball or play baseball and football, it is easy to say this is a really exciting time,” he said.

Given the nature of Tennessee’s football and baseball programs this decade not being up to par with past success, both Vitello and Pruitt will need time to build their programs the right way to avoid setbacks that were experienced before their arrivals.

“Maybe five or six years ago, you may not have been able to say look at how the athletic department as a whole is going to be in a few years,” Vitello said. “But I think right now you are not dishing out a sales pitch and now you are almost just preaching the facts.”

Part of Pruitt and Vitello building their programs is working together.

Current UT football players Brandon Davis and Trevon Flowers are playing both football and baseball. Parker Ball committed to Tennessee Dec. 9 and is set to play on the offensive line in football and as a pitcher in baseball.

“Their offices and our offices are only a couple hundred yards apart and I think we see things eye to eye,” Vitello said. “There has been a good co-op between their staff and our staff.”

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