The Tennessee coaching search finally has come to an end, with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt getting the nod.
The search took several crazy turns, including blowback from fans after Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was thought to be getting the job on Nov. 26. After the search became a national punch line, athletic director John Currie was replaced by Hall of Fame coach Phillip Fulmer.
Finally, Vols fans can take a deep breath and focus on their new football coach.
Exactly whom have the Vols hired? Here are five things to know about Pruitt:
Fulmer ended his opening statement in his introductory press conference with the line, “Let’s go have fun winning championships.”
Pruitt has never been a head coach, but he has played significant roles on national championship teams. He coached defensive backs in 2011 and 2012 for Alabama teams that won the BCS national title. His lone season as defensive coordinator at Florida State, 2013, coincided with a Seminoles national championship. He served as Alabama’s director of player development when it won the 2009 national title, which was Nick Saban’s first with the Crimson Tide.
Pruitt has spent the past two seasons leading the Alabama defense.
Pruitt was named the 247 National Recruiter of the Year in 2012. He routinely brings in top talent wherever he is coaching.
Having Pruitt as the head coach will likely open up the state of Alabama to the Vols. From 1998-2006, Pruitt coached at Alabama high schools. His father, Dale, has coached high school football in Alabama for a total of 34 years.
Those ties will likely pay dividends once Pruitt is on Rocky Top.
At 42, Pruitt’s relative youth also presumably lends itself to him embracing the grind of recruiting — which is important at Tennessee.
Solid defensive numbers
It’s difficult to decide what is more impressive — Pruitt’s recruiting ability or his defensive coaching.
Pruitt has only been a defensive coordinator at the college level for five seasons, but he has never shown the job was too big for him.
His Florida State defense in 2013 ranked first in scoring defense (12.1 points per game) and third in total defense (281.4yards). Alabama ranks first in scoring defense (11.5) and second in total defense (257.8) this season.
Pruitt was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant in college football, in 2013 and 2016.
Played college football
Pruitt played defensive back at Middle Tennessee from 1993-94. He transferred to Alabama and played for the Crimson Tide from 1995-96.
His playing days helped translate into his coaching abilities. Pruitt coached defensive backs in some capacity from 2010-2015.
Tennessee has struggled with secondary play the past few seasons under former coach Butch Jones. Pruitt could provide the change the group needs.
Pruitt is no stranger to media exposure. When he coached at Hoover High School the school was featured in the MTV show “Two-A-Days.”
Clips of Pruitt on the show are difficult to come by these days, but this funny scene from 2006 has lived on thanks to YouTube.
Jeremy Pruitt coaching résumé:
|2001-03||Fort Payne HS||Asst.|
|* Director of player development|
|^ Student assistant coach|
Jeremy Pruitt national rankings as defensive coordinator:
|Year||Pts rank||PPG||Yds rank||YPG|
|* Defensive coordinator at Alabama|
|** Defensive coordinator at Georgia|
|^ Defensive coordinator at Florida State|