NEW ORLEANS — Attitude, stability and toughness were the words Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley used to describe new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt on Saturday morning at the Sugar Bowl team media day at the Superdome.
“I think he’ll bring a professional attitude,” said Ansley, a former All-Sun Belt player at Troy whose previous coaching stops included Tennessee (2012) and Kentucky (2013-15).
“He’ll bring stability, an edge and toughness to the program, and Tennessee is a great place and it has every resource to be successful,” he said. “I think Coach will tap into that and reunite the fan base and get everyone pulling in the right direction.”
Ansley has seen the Vols program pulled apart firsthand, as he was a member of Derek Dooley’s final staff in 2012.
The former Tennessee assistant has no ill will for the Vols program or fans, however, and he believes Rocky Top landed the right answer for its coach.
“The first thing I’d tell someone about Coach Pruitt is that he’s a ball coach, through and through, a teacher and a very approachable and humble guy,” Ansley said. “He’s always looking out for people around him and trying to make everyone better.”
Pruitt played at Alabama under coach Gene Stallings in 1995-96 and served as a graduate assistant for the Tide under Mike DuBose in 1997. After a successful high school coaching career, Nick Saban hired Pruitt on to work in player development on his first staff in 2007 and eventually promoted him through the ranks to defensive coordinator.
Ansley said the similarities Pruitt shares with Saban are obvious.
“I wouldn’t say they are carbon copies, but as far as their defensive mind they are very similar in how they want things done,” Ansley said. “Jeremy has been working with Coach Saban for eight years now and they speak the same language, have the same sort of thoughts and see things the same way.
“They are on the same page — a lot.”