TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — While the confetti was still falling at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and the realization was still sinking in that the University of Alabama football team had just won the national championship, Jeremy Pruitt started to make his final goodbyes.
The outgoing defensive coordinator who had stuck around for the College Football Playoff before fully taking over at Tennessee, made a point to find all of his players either during the celebration on the field or in the locker room. The next time he sees most of them, he’ll be decked out in orange on the other sideline.
“What better way to send him off than with a victory,” sophomore linebacker Mack Wilson said. “That’s my guy, I love Coach Pruitt to death.”
— Maserati Mack 🔱 (@iam__mw3o) January 12, 2018
While players can only be on a collegiate roster for four or five years, Nick Saban’s coaches have been getting lured away at an even faster rate. When most of this past season’s seniors were recruited in the Class of 2014, here’s how the staff looked and where those coaches are now:
- Burton Burns Assoc. head coach/Running backs Same role
- Mario Cristobal Offensive line Oregon head coach
- Bo Davis Defensive line UTSA defensive line
- Lane Kiffin Offensive coordinator/Quarterbacks Florida Atlantic head coach
- Billy Napier Wide receivers Lafayette head coach
- Kirby Smart Defensive coordinator/Secondary Georgia head coach
- Kevin Steele Linebackers Auburn defensive coordinator
- Lance Thompson Outside linebackers South Carolina assist. head coach/Defensive line
- Bobby Williams Tight Ends Special assistant to Saban
Pruitt was just the third defensive coordinator during the Saban era at Alabama, following Steele and Smart, and the second who was sort of groomed for the job. He left to be the defensive coordinator at Florida State and Georgia, but returned for the 2016-17 seasons.
“We’ve been very fortunate all the time we’ve been at Alabama and the time we’ve been at LSU, we’ve always played the same system on defense, but we’ve always been able to hire somebody who knew the system, who had been in the system before,” Saban said. “Kirby had been in it before. Will Muschamp learned it. Jeremy Pruitt had been in it before. So it was an easy transition for them to continue to implement the same thing for the players.”
Although Pruitt has left, co-defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi is still on staff.
Here’s where Alabama stands with special teams, and the coaches/staffers.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Staying: LS Thomas Fletcher (LS Scott Meyer)
Going: P JK Scott, K Andy Pappanastos
Redshirt: K Joseph Bulovas
Signed: P Skyler DeLong
Nick Saban after that JK Scott punt pic.twitter.com/BiJ7vwqssl
— Taylor (@The1Valley) January 2, 2018
Alabama is going to really miss punter Scott, but DeLong is a highly regarded prospect who is being counted on to step in immediately. Fletcher and walk-on Meyer split duties, one handling punts and the other fields goals and extra points. It took most of the season to get someone settled at punt return, but Trevon Diggs looked comfortable during the title game, and Xavian Marks remains an option.
Going: Jeremy Pruitt (defensive coordinator to Tennessee), Derrick Ansley (secondary)
Incoming: Pete Golding (TBD)
The staff will remain fluid for a while as football coaches on both the professional and collegiate levels are transitioning into new staffs, so there’s still a lot of movement. But Ansley is going to the Oakland Raiders; defensive analyst Wes Neighbors is headed to FAU and former Texas A&M special teams and tight ends coach Jeff Banks will reportedly join the Crimson Tide staff, which could mean a re-assignment for Joe Pannunzio. Three names to watch moving forward are Ed Marynowitz (associate AD), wide receivers coach Mike Locksley and maybe offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
The initial idea with Golding was to have him handle the linebackers as his position group. With Ansley’s departure, coaching the secondary is a possibility but it’ll depend who else is hired. Don’t be surprised if Saban waits until after National Signing Day to finalize and announce the new staff.