5 reasons Vols fans should be thrilled with Jeremy Pruitt
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s search has finally ended with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt reportedly accepting the reins from newly appointed athletics director Phillip Fulmer to be the 24th head coach in school history.
At long last, the mother of all coaching searches is over. Tennessee has finalized the deal with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, and the Vols plan to introduce the 43-year-old Pruitt as head coach Thursday evening at a press conference, sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) December 7, 2017
This is Pruitt’s first head-coaching job, but he learned from some of the best in the business. Pruitt has coached under Jimbo Fisher, winning the 2013 national championship at FSU, under Nick Saban, winning three national championships at Alabama, and two seasons under Mark Richt at Georgia.
The new Tennessee head coach also coached as a high school assistant under Rush Propst at Hoover High School during their MTV Two-A-Days televised run, winning two state championships in three seasons.
What will Pruitt bring to the table as head coach on Rocky Top?
A solid recruiter
Pruitt relates to players and gets the best out of them when they arrive on campus. Here a few players that the new Tennessee head coach has been able to recruit and close the deal on signing day.
Chris Black, Lorenzo Carter, Derrick Henry, Nigel Knott, Alex Leatherwood, Rico McGraw, Xavier McKinney, C.J. Mosley, Dylan Moses, D.J. Pettway, Reggie Ragland, LaBryan Ray, Roquan Smith, Alphonse Taylor, Matthew Thomas, DeMarcus Walker, Eddie Williams, Mack Wilson, T.J. Yeldon.
That’s a star-studded list at multiple schools.
Pruitt will have his first audition to make a statement with recruits as five recruits will take official visits this weekend, including Paxton Brooks, Brandon Cross, Greg Emerson, Matt Flint and Alontae Taylor.
Players relate to him
Director of Regional Recruiting and National Speaker for Rivals Camp/Combines and former UAB coach Ron Sigler has a strong background with Pruitt being in Birmingham. Sigler tells Saturday Down South that Pruitt will do well at a place like Tennessee and is the “real deal, very animated, lots of spirit and fight, a great football mind and very sharp.” He says that the players will love him.
Pruitt’s Alabama defense finished the 2017 regular season No. 1 for total defense. Alabama also finished first nationally by only allowing 138 points (11.5 per game). During his first season at Alabama in 2016, replacing the departed Kirby Smart, Pruitt’s defense allowed 13.0 points per game and 63.9 yards on the ground.
Georgia hired Pruitt ahead of the 2014 season following being Florida State’s defensive coordinator in 2013. Pruitt’s FSU defense was a good fit along with an offense that featured Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and winning games by an average margin of victory of 40.2 points per game.
Pruitt’s former boss at Hoover High School, head coach Rush Propst, says that the new Tennessee head coach brings toughness to the program. Propst said when Pruitt took over as Georgia’s defensive coordinator in 2014, he immediately changed the culture.
“They were a little bit more country club and lackadaisical, in my opinion, at Georgia before Jeremy’s arrival,” Propst told AL.com. “I know they had some successful teams, but the last several years, the weight room wasn’t very tough, practice wasn’t very tough. Jeremy has a way to make things tough and make kids enjoy playing for him. He makes no bones about it.”
Head-to-head with Alabama and Georgia
Pruitt can place Tennessee in position to battle Alabama and Georgia immediately on the recruiting trail. The cupboard is not bare, but it will take a recruiting cycle to provide talented depth.
UT has struggled to develop talent, but that’s one of Pruitt’s strengths.
With a strong background in Alabama, Pruitt can also go toe-to-toe with Saban on the recruiting trail.
That gap should close each year, especially given the fact Saban will turn 67 during the 2018 season.