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Take Two: How far does Tennessee have to climb in SEC?

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

Jalen Hurts (2) and Alabama manhandled Tennessee on Saturday.
Jalen Hurts (2) and Alabama manhandled Tennessee on Saturday. (AP)

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling an issue in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

MORE: Ranking the best remaining games | Farrell's Three-Point Stance

THE STORYLINE

Tennessee was down 28 points after the first quarter against Alabama last weekend. It was 42-14 at halftime. And first-year Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt had a message for his team.

According to reports, Pruitt said: “We have a few guys that are playing the game the right way and doing all the right things. And I promise you that I will recruit 25 other guys that will play the right way, so we don’t have to play in another game like this.”

After the 58-21 pounding was over, Pruitt said that Alabama “could have probably not thrown a pass today and scored 58 points.” You get it. Pruitt is not pleased with how some players are performing. It’s certainly not good enough to be competitive in an improving SEC East with Georgia, Florida, and now even Kentucky, let alone staying with the Crimson Tide.

Recruiting better players, and then developing them, which was a weakness of the previous regime, is going to be a focus of Pruitt’s in this recruiting cycle and beyond. The Vols are currently ranked fifth in the SEC team recruiting rankings behind Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and LSU.

Pruitt said he would recruit 25 guys who will play the right way so the Vols are not in another blowout like they experienced this past weekend. But is this a quick fix or will Tennessee fans have to be patient over a years-long period as Pruitt tries to make the Vols relevant in the SEC again?

TAKE ONE: JESSE SIMONTON, VOLQUEST.COM

Jeremy Pruitt’s comments Saturday were a surprise – not in their veracity, but simply that Tennessee’s coach said them at all. Through 10 months, Pruitt has mostly filtered his thoughts on the current roster, but another exasperating loss at home left the first-year head coach clearly frustrated. Every new coach eventually says something similar to what Pruitt uttered over the weekend, but that doesn't mean what he said isn’t true.

“While there’s some talent on Tennessee’s team, the roster remains painfully thin. Right now, even signing 25 new faces in 2019 won’t suddenly turn Tennessee into a SEC East contender. Butch Jones recruited well early in his tenure with the Vols, but the 2016 and 2017 classes took major steps backward and the Vols are getting minimal contributions from the bulk of those two classes. Some players could certainly still develop, but with a new staff and system changes on both sides of the ball, the better bet is many of them being replaced by new faces over the next few years. This was never going to be a one-year rebuild, and now publicly, Pruitt seems as aware of that as everyone else.”

TAKE TWO: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM

“His comment was that he’s going to need another recruiting cycle to compete with Alabama. He needs more than one recruiting cycle to compete with Alabama. They need a whole revamp of the roster and that’s three recruiting cycles at least.

“It was refreshingly honest. He didn’t give the standard answer of, ‘We need to do this, that and the other to be better.’ He came out and said we don’t have the players. We don’t have the Jimmys and Joes and it’s not about the Xs and Os. We need better players to compete with Alabama and it’s going to take awhile to get that done. I liked his answer.”