On Thursday, Tennessee finalized their deal with Jeremy Pruitt to be the Vols’ next head football coach. After a winding, convoluted, and stressful coaching search, Tennessee finally found their man after getting rejected several times and making a change at athletics director mid-search.
But finally, Tennessee has a head coach again.
Pruitt, 43, has been the defensive coordinator for Alabama the last two years and has been a defensive coach his whole collegiate coaching career. He’s never been a head coach, but he brings a strong coaching pedigree with him and has a track record as one of the best defensive coordinators in the country.
Will that translate over to being a head coach? Only time will tell, but the credentials he brings to the job as an assistant are very noteworthy.
Pruitt played football in college at both MTSU and Alabama in the mid-1990s. He comes from a coaching family and became noticed while at Hoover High School from 2004-06. He appeared on the television show Two-A-Days while there, and he was hired by Alabama as a Director of Player Development in 2007.
He then stayed with Alabama till 2012. He was promoted to be the Tide’s defensive backs coach in 2010, and he was part of Alabama’s coaching staffs that won national titles in 2010 and 2012.
In 2013, Pruitt left Alabama to become Florida State’s defensive coordinator. In his one year there, he won yet another title, helping lead the Seminole’s defense to an impressive season and a victory in the National Championship game. The Noles’ defense was No. 3 in the country in yards allowed per game and was the No. 1 scoring defense in all of college football.
After just one season with Florida State, Pruitt took the defensive coordinator position at Georgia and had major success there as well. The Bulldogs’ defense was ranked 45th in the country in yards allowed per game and 79th in points allowed per game in 2013. Once Pruitt took over in 2014, those rankings rose to 17th in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed. His second season as their DC saw those numbers jump to 7th in yards given up and 8th in points allowed.
Then Pruitt returned to Alabama in 2016 to become their defensive coordinator. He helped the well-oiled machine that is Alabama’s defense maintain their dominance in 2016, getting them to No. 1 in the country in both yards allowed per game and points allowed per game. This season, the Tide is No. 2 in yards allowed and is once again first in points allowed.
All of this doesn’t even mention Pruitt’s prowess as a recruiter either.
Pruitt was named the National Recruiter of the Year in 2012 by 247Sports, and he’s been responsible for bringing in some very talented players at all his stops. He was the main recruiter for players like Jalen Ramsey, Rico McGraw, Roquan Smith, Derrick Henry, and T.J. Yeldon just to name a few.
Pruitt has yet to be a head football coach, but that doesn’t mean he won’t do well as one. It also doesn’t guarantee success either. Time will tell how well Pruitt handles being a head coach, but he brings a strong track record as a coordinator and assistant with him to Knoxville.