It’s fair to say no college football coach entering 2017 had ever experienced a more challenging situation than Jeremy Pruitt did after taking over the Tennessee program.
Sure, other coaches such as Kirby Smart, have taken on the dual responsibilities of being hired to run a new program while staying on to help his current school prepare for a national title run, but Pruitt was the first to do so during the new early signing period.
During his Thursday appearance in Nashville for Tennessee’s National Signing Day celebration event, Pruitt was asked about the difficulty he faced transitioning to recruiting for Alabama to recruiting for Tennessee. While Pruitt wasn’t making any excuses, he was honest about the challenges he faced after being named Tennessee’s head coach.
For the first time in his coaching career, Pruitt wasn’t able to sell to recruits the head coach he worked under.
“The first thing is, I’m always a guy that’s tried to sell the head football coach — as an assistant coach. You sell the fact that some assistant coaches leave, but the head coach is going to be there and be there for awhile. It’s easy to tell if there going to be there based on wins and losses,” Pruitt said on 104.5 FM Nashville radio program The Midday 180.
The Tennessee coach also spoke to the fact he didn’t attempt to flip any prospects while working for Alabama.
“Starting at a new place, it was a little different with the early signing period, you basically got seven to 10 days. It’s hard when you’ve been recruiting a guy for 2-3 years to go to a school, you’re not going to go in there and tell a guy, ‘Hey, by the way, Tennessee is the best place for you.’ So, you kinda eliminate that pool of guys, that was going to sign early, so we basically had 7-10 days to go out and reach out and basically create a new board and go from there. And I thought we done a really good job.”
As for missing out on some high-profile prospects on National Signing Day, Pruitt doesn’t seem to have any regrets for getting Tennessee involved with some of the best prospects the nation has to offer.
“When you start looking at the criteria of what you are looking for, on the backend of the recruiting deal (after the early signing period), everybody is kinda recruiting the same players,” he continued. “We took some swings at some guys but the guys we got fit our criteria and we are excited about.”