ATLANTA — SEC tailback legend and 2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexander predicts success for Jeremy Pruitt in his transition to Tennessee head coach following tonight’s College Football Playoff Championship Game.
Pruitt, hired by the Vols on Dec. 7 after a 26-day coaching search, will finish out his duties as Alabama’s defensive coordinator at 8 p.m. tonight against Georgia in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Alexander, a star for the Crimson Tide who went on to score 112 touchdowns in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks, said Pruitt has what it takes to make it big as a head coach.
“Coaching is really simple, it’s about getting the players to believe and getting the right coaches to create the system and the atmosphere that you want,” said Alexander, who attended the annual FWAA Awards breakfast and served on the Freshman All-American committee. “So I don’t see him having a problem with that, and in fact I feel like he’ll be great at it.
“What my goal will be will, is for him to get really good at it, and then come home and get another ring,” Alexander said, suggesting Pruitt might ultimately be back coaching the Crimson Tide. “I do want him back at Alabama because he’s a great coach.”
Alexander’s time as an Alabama player (1995-1999) overlapped with Pruitt, who spent two years as his teammate, and then the 1997 season as a graduate assistant on Mike DuBose’s Crimson Tide staff along with former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, among others.
“I was a (redshirt) freshman when Jeremy was a senior,” Alexander said. “He was funny, friendly and he loved football. He was one of those guys everyone wanted to be around. There was something cool about him.
“I want him to do great except in October.”
Alexander ran behind Tennessee’s new offensive line coach, Will Friend, who was then an Alabama offensive guard.
“Will was one of the guys and humble, but he knew his stuff more than you understood,” Alexander said. “He will coach them well, and he’ll coach Trey (Smith), and Trey will do really well with him there.”
Smith was recognized on the FWAA Freshman All-American team that was released earlier Monday morning.
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