KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As Steve Spurrier would say, it's talking season. Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and linebackers Daniel Bituli and Darrell Taylor will join head coach Jeremy Pruitt at SEC Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel outside Birmingham.
The Vols will take the stage at 2:30 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday and rotate through various rooms filled with media members from around the country.
One of the topics Pruitt will be asked about is the status of offensive lineman Trey Smith. The junior started the first 19 games of his career but missed the last five last season due to blood clots in his lungs. The condition has threatened to end his career but Smith did participate in non-contact drills during spring practice.
Pruitt will also be asked to update the situations of transfers DeAngelo Gibbs and Aubrey Solomon. Tennessee is seeking waivers from the NCAA that would allow both players to play immediately instead of having to sit out a year.
Solomon, a former five-star recruit that transferred from Michigan, would provide a huge boost to a defensive line that loses all three starters from last season.
Among the other topics Pruitt will likely discuss are the new assistant coaches, differences for him from year one to year two, the potential improvement of the offensive line and of course the players that he is bringing with him to media days.
Guarantano is heading into his redshirt junior season with 21 career games under his belt. Despite being under pressure for much of last season, he protected the ball well, breaking the school record with 166 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns in a road upset win over Auburn.
Taylor finished tied for sixth in the SEC with eight sacks last season. Seven of those sacks came in only two games - four against Kentucky and three against Georgia - and he forced three fumbles in those two games. The Vols are hoping Taylor can be more consistent in his redshirt senior season, by turning those two monster games into a breakout year.
Bituli has led the Vols in tackles in each of the last two seasons and posted the highest single-game tackle total of any Power 5 player in 2017 when he had 23 against Georgia Tech. He's expected to start at Mike linebacker in his senior season.
Tennessee opens the season at home on August 31 against Georgia State.