The National Championship Game is one that Tennessee faithful would rather not see due to annual rivals Alabama and Georgia squaring off.
Alabama is playing for its fifth national championship under Nick Saban, while Georgia is searching for its first national championship since 1980. A Georgia title could awaken a sleeping giant in today’s college football landscape.
As soon as the game is over, Alabama and Georgia will have assistant coaches who will depart for Tennessee.
Jeremy Pruitt is the Vols’ head coach and will coordinate Alabama’s defense one final time. Kevin Sherrer will coach the Bulldogs’ linebackers one last time for Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker’s defense before taking on the role of defensive coordinator for Tennessee.
Ironically, Pruitt and Sherrer will square off for the first time in their college coaching careers before reuniting once again in a process to get Tennessee back to its championship winning ways.
The two defensive coaches spent a lot of time coaching together as they worked their way up the coaching ranks.
Both played at Alabama and were teammates in 1995 under Gene Stallings.
From 2005-2006, Pruitt was defensive coordinator at Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala., and Sherrer was a defensive assistant under him. Sherrer replaced Pruitt as coordinator at Hoover as he departed to launch his college coaching career under Saban.
Pruitt worked his way up from being Director of Player Development to coaching on field as Saban’s defensive backs coach in 2010. Sherrer replaced Pruitt’s role as Director of Player Development simultaneously at Alabama.
Their coaching roles remained the same from 2010-2012 before they took different roads to become a defensive coordinator. Pruitt became Florida State’s DC in 2013 and Sherrer went to South Alabama as DC.
Their separation lasted only one season as Mark Richt hired Pruitt as his defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2014-2015. Pruitt brought in Sherrer to coach his outside linebackers, a position he has remained in under Kirby Smart, who replaced Richt in 2016 as head coach; Pruitt replaced Smart as Alabama’s DC the past two seasons.
Pruitt and Sherrer are inseparable. Monday they’ll be together again, yet on opposite sidelines for the first time, coaching in the biggest games of their career.
In a coaches teleconference ahead of the Alabama and Georgia showdown, Smart addressed the two coaches going head-to-head before teaming up again with the Vols.
“I know that Kevin wants to win this game for the University of Georgia, and Kevin wants to finish something he was a part of,” Smart said. “I think it speaks to his brand the rest of his career if he’s able to win a National Championship here, and I certainly think Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, all the kids he’s coached for the last four years I guess it’s been, and he wants to do well for those guys, and I’m sure Jeremy is the same way for the players that he recruited to Alabama.
“I think both parties are working independent of each other knowing that on the recruiting side of things they’re working together, and there’s not a whole lot of recruiting going on right now with the dead period, but I mean, I went through that. I think you’ve got to separate what you’re doing. When you’re working for the game, you’re working for the game. You’re working for recruiting, you’re working for Tennessee, and if you’re professional about your job, that’s not really a problem.”
Pruitt and Sherrer have won the 2005 Alabama state high school championship and the 2011 and 2012 national championships together. Their winning ways will be on display soon together on Rocky Top, but for now the two prepare in going against each other for 60 minutes at the pinnacle of the sport.
- 1993-1994 Middle Tennessee (Defensive back)
- 1995-1996 Alabama (Defensive back)
- 1997 Alabama (GA)
- 1998 Plainview HS (DB)
- 1999 West Alabama (DB)
- 2000 Plainview HS (DC)
- 2001-2003 Fort Payne HS (assistant)
- 2004 Hoover HS (DB)
- 2005-2006 Hoover HS (DC/DB)
- 2007–2009 Alabama (DPD)
- 2010-2012 Alabama (DB)
- 2013 Florida State (DC/DB)
- 2014-2015 Georgia (DC/DB)
- 2016-2017 Alabama (DC/ILB)
- 2018 Tennessee (HC)
- 1993-1995 Alabama (Tight end)
- 1996-1997 Tuscaloosa County HS (Asst.)
- 1998-2000 Alabama (GA)
- 2001-2004 Spain Park HS (DB)
- 2005-2006 Hoover HS (Asst.)
- 2007-2009 Hoover HS (DC)
- 2010-2012 Alabama (DPD)
- 2013 South Alabama (DC/DB)
- 2014-2017 Georgia (OLB)
- 2018 Tennessee (DC)