Jeremy Pruitt has a reputation as one of the best recruiters in the Southeastern Conference following his time spent with Alabama, Georgia, and now at Tennessee. Apparently, the Volunteer head coach didn’t start out that way, it’s a reputation that took some time to earn.

A good example of that?

During a virtual appearance at the 26th Annual L’Arche Mobile Football Preview, Tennessee’s coach was asked to share any good stories he had about his time coaching in the SEC.

Credit Pruitt for not holding back on this one, no matter how foolish it made him look during his early days as an assistant working for Nick Saban at Alabama. At least Tennessee’s coach is ready to laugh about this incident years later.

The way Pruitt tells it, Saban assigned him the Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., areas to help Alabama recruit during his time as a player development coach after the Tide lost some assistant coaches, which opened a spot for Pruitt to hit the road to recruit. The Crimson Tide were recruiting the likes of Nico Johnson, Trent Richardson and AJ McCarron during this time.

“So Coach Saban told me, he said listen, Jeremy, he goes, ‘We’re in a really good spot with these guys. I want you to go down there recruit them for this week. At the end of the week, I’m going to send Coach [Joe] Pendry and Coach [Jim] McElwain down to do a home visit with a couple of these guys. I just want you to report to me every night what’s going on.’

So, I go down there and I’m feeling like I’m doing a great job, I’m calling Coach Saban every night and you know, he’s asking me all these questions about AJ McCarron. He goes, ‘There’s a lot of talk about Tennessee coming down and Lane Kiffin visiting AJ McCarron.’ He goes, ‘Is there any truth to that?’

“I’m like, ‘No coach, I sit outside his house every night, I watched. Nobody’s coming in.’ So on Thursday of that week, Coach McElwain and Coach Pendry, they fly into Mobile, I pick them up and we’re going straight to AJ’s house.

“We pull up there, into AJ’s house and I had the right address and the make of the vehicles were all the same that were there and we knock on the door several times and this little old lady comes to the door and kind of shocks me there.

“And I’m thinking, this must be AJ’s grandmother and I said, ‘Is AJ here?’ And she said, ‘Who?’ I said, ‘AJ McCarron.’ She said, ‘No baby, he lives four houses down that way.’

“So right then I just, I had a lot of anxiety thinking oh my goodness, I’ve been watching the wrong house for a week and Jim McElwain looked at him and said, ‘Great job, Pruitt.'”

We’ve all got stories of messing up on the job early in our careers, Pruitt’s just happened to be while he was working under Nick Saban and scouting Alabama’s quarterback target. In the end, it obviously worked out for all parties involved as McCarron went on to a great playing career at Alabama and Pruitt has done alright for himself, too.