Summer 2024

Tennessee Volunteers hit church before scrimmage: 'It's Sunday, right?'

When first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt began evaluating performances from the University of Tennessee’s first football scrimmage of the fall, he didn’t have to worry about a lack of unity.

In fact, if the Volunteers showcased one thing entering and during the practice, according to 247Sports, it was togetherness.

Thanks to Pruitt, part of that bond may have stemmed from a Sunday morning in the pews. Literally.

Hours before Sunday’s scrimmage, which was held at Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium, the Vols were visitors at Fellowship Church Knoxville. The cameo preceded a team brunch, and if it didn’t introduce a handful of college football players to Jesus, it at least ensured a Vols community will be praying in earnest for them, not to mention that Tennessee is a little bit closer as a unit.

“I think our players enjoyed it” and “had a really good time,” Pruitt said, per 247. “I grew up going to church. I think a lot of these guys did. I know our staff did. It’s Sunday, right? It’s fall camp. Just because we’re in fall camp — I mean, that’s kind of the habits that you create, and that’s something that we wanted to do.”

Patrick Abernathy, who serves the Vols’ player development department, agreed.

“What a great day for the UT football team and Vol family,” he wrote on Twitter. “Coach Pruitt (is) ready for tomorrow’s battles on and off the field! UT football … the complete athlete!”

Fellowship Church itself commented on the Vols’ appearance as well. Promising to pray for the team on Twitter and Instagram, the congregation pledged spiritual support for the program as the 2018 season closes in.

“Every day we are going to pray for you — about football a little bit but mostly about your hearts,” the church posted on Instagram. “What is in your heart is what matters. You are sons and grandsons; you’re friends, roommates, and teammates. One day you are going to be husbands and fathers. It matters to us that you know that we care about you and are for you, and we will be praying for you.”

The Volunteers begin their 2018 season on Sept. 1 vs. West Virginia. Pruitt, 44, will guide them in his first year at the helm of the staff since replacing Butch Jones and interim coach Brady Hoke.

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