KNOXVILLE — When the Tennessee football team heads outside Friday to begin its first preseason camp of the Jeremy Pruitt era, it is expected to have a third outdoor field available for the first time.
An estimated $10 million project to expand Tennessee's practice space will be complete, a team spokesperson confirmed to the Times Free Press.
Pruitt lauded the completion of the additional field in his opening remarks on the main stage at SEC Media Days on July 18.
"When you talk about facilities, our facilities there, the plan that's been in place, just in the last six months, we have added a practice facility, an extra practice field," Pruitt said. "We have redone our weightroom, and we have also redone the Anderson center. So when you talk about commitment, you've got to have the resources to do it. I think it starts at the top."
Before the expansion project, Tennessee had one full outdoor field and a second field that was 30 yards shorter than regulation length. Progress on the project gave the Volunteers a second full practice field last season.
Now that a third field is complete, the Vols will rank in the upper half of the Southeastern Conference in outdoor practice space, though at least three conference schools have four outdoor fields.
Tennessee also practices at Neyland Stadium occasionally and can practice on a full-length field inside the Anderson Training Center, if weather or factors necessitate a move indoors.
Inside the Anderson center, the weightroom floor and some equipment have been replaced. Flooring and wall graphics have been replaced in the football offices that overlook the practice field inside the training center.
Clots sidelined Smith
Blood clots in his lungs were the previously undisclosed health issue that kept Tennessee star offensive lineman Trey Smith from practicing this spring, according to an ESPN report.
Pruitt indicated at SEC Media Days that Smith would return to the field this season.
The ESPN report suggests Smith will not be cleared for contact until mid-August. Smith spent three nights in the hospital in February after the clots were discovered and flew to Boston for a second opinion, according to the report.
The blood clots are gone after treatment, though there is still risk that clots could return, according to the report.
"He didn't go through spring ball and will miss a lot of fall camp," Pruitt told ESPN. "When he comes back, it may take him a while to play his way back into football mode.
"So I'm not sure it would be fair to judge what kind of year he's having until week four or five as opposed to the first week. But he loves ball, and I'm just glad he's getting another opportunity."
Smith was the only offensive lineman to start all 12 games for Tennessee in 2017. He earned Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and was voted first-team preseason All-SEC.
Though not cleared for contact, Smith has been able to perform conditioning drills while undergoing treatment.