Last season, Greg Emerson appeared in 13 games with nine starts, and he was a bright spot on a Tennessee defensive line that surged in the later half of the season. Emerson recorded 30 tackles, 4.0 TFLS, 2.0 sacks, and he added two pass breakups.
Emerson was most dominant when the Vols traveled to Tuscaloosa when he recorded a career-high six tackles and a sack. Despite that success, Emerson has not been a focal point for the Vols this fall. In fact, through six games, Emerson has appeared in five contests, but he has yet to record a stat.
On Monday, Jeremy Pruitt was asked about his participation or lack thereof. Pruitt said, "Listen, this whole pandemic has affected all of us differently. For some reason, Greg (Emerson) was just, to me, in a little bit of a funk or whatever. He just didn’t have a really great fall camp and (we've been) just kind of jump starting him and getting him going."
Pruitt has been serving as the defensive line coach for the Vols for roughly a month now, and he has noticed an uptick in Emerson's production. He said, "really over the last three or four weeks, I’ve seen a guy that’s really worked hard every day at practice to be a good football player. And he knows it, he sees it. It looks like he’s kind of back to his old self a little bit, so that’s good to see. He’s walking around with a smile on his face, so I’m glad to see that.
Tennessee's defensive line has faced their fair share of criticisms, and Pruitt has discussed how they have to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Emerson certainly flashed his potential last fall, and getting him back to his former form would be a welcomed sight for Tennessee's struggling defensive line.