Jeremy Pruitt admits he didn’t know much about Deandre Baker when he first saw him in action but he saw enough promise initially to immediately offer the South Florida prospect a scholarship on the spot.
Not even Pruitt would likely tell you he believed Baker, a three-star prospect out of Northwestern High School in Miami and the No. 64 cornerback in the nation for the 2015 recruiting cycle according to 247Sports Composite Rankings, would develop into a first-round NFL Draft pick by the time his college career was over but that’s exactly what happened to the standout Bulldog defensive back.
Pruitt’s story is a credit to his ability to immediately identify talent in a prospect but the Tennessee coach was also quick to point out he didn’t coach Baker for very long during his Wednesday morning appearance on Knoxville-based WNML Radio program “The Erik Ainge Show.”
When Baker’s name was brought up during the interview by Ainge, Tennessee’s head coach recalled the first time he met Baker.
“Something interesting about Deandre Baker — and I didn’t coach him his last three years, but he was in a long line of about 100 defensive backs. He came to one session of a camp and I pulled him over to the side and asked him his name — I had never even watched tape on the guy, I didn’t know who he was,” Pruitt said on the show. “But I knew right then he had a skill set. I asked him how old he was, he was 16 at the time, I asked him how many offers you got. He said, ‘Zero.’ I said, ‘Well, you got an offer from Georgia.’ He said, ‘Well I commit.'”
The rest is history, as they say, and Baker is off to the NFL as he was the first cornerback taken in the 2019 NFL Draft this week after being selected No. 30 overall by the Giants.