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Grading the Hire of Jeremy Pruitt as Vols’ Head Coach

Nathanael’s Grade

If Tennessee wasn’t going to hire a sitting head coach or someone with head coaching experience. I thought Jeremy Pruitt should’ve been one of their top choices as a coordinator. He and Brent Venables were my top two choices of coordinators for the Vols to hire should they go that route.

I think there’s immense upside to Pruitt as head coach. In fact, I think this could turn out to be an “A+” type of grade with the kind of ceiling that Pruitt has. But there’s still plenty of risk associated with him too. He’s never been a head coach and never had to develop offensive players.

If Pruitt surrounds himself with the right staff, he should have plenty of success as a head coach with Tennessee. He also needs the full support of Tennessee’s administration. It looks like he’s gotten that so far with the $5 million he’s been allowed to spend on his staff.

Right now, this is just a solid hire. What Pruitt brings to the table at this moment is a great track record as a defensive coach and a penchant for being an elite recruiter. Both of those will serve the Vols well, but it still remains to be seen how he does as a head coach for the first time.

To me, this is a “boom or bust” hire. I don’t usually deal in absolutes and think there’s usually a middle ground to just about everything. But I just think that Pruitt as head coach will either be extremely successful or fail in three years. I don’t see him being a Butch Jones and hanging around mediocrity for four or five seasons.

The potential is there for this to be a great hire. But right now there’s too much mystery for me to give it an “A.”

Grade: B

Will’s Grade

The only reason I’m not giving this hire an “A” is because there is some risk. It’s not a sure thing that Pruitt will be successful simply because he’s never been a head coach.

But I fully expect him to get the job done at Tennessee. And I think he’ll do it quickly. Pruitt has already assembled a fantastic staff of young recruiters. He’s also got a national championship coach down the hallway as his athletic director. If Pruitt can salvage a decent class for this upcoming season, look out.

Tennessee just hired one of the top recruiters in the country. If he’s able to get top offensive minds to stay in Knoxville, he’ll be successful. Also, he desperately needs stability. In a couple years, this hire may ultimately be graded upon the stability and continuity of the athletic department. If he’s set up for success by the administration and staff around him, I think this will turn out to be a very good choice.

Grade: B+

Ben’s Grade

With everything that happened during the coaching search, the hiring of Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is a home run hire. The reason I give it an A- instead of an A+ is for the simple fact that Pruitt has no previous head coaching experience. Despite a lack of head coaching experience, the Alabama native checks every other box for Tennessee.

Pruitt is easily the best pure football coach the Vols have had since the day Phillip Fulmer was hired. With the firing of Butch Jones, Tennessee has taken a tremendous leap in coaching ability with Pruitt. They’ll be a totally different team next year, as the Vols will be one of the best coached teams in the country. His defenses have consistently been one of the best in the country and that trend will continue in Knoxville.

Not only is he a great coach, but he’s just as good of a recruiter. Tennessee has already seen the effect of this within 24 hours of the hiring. Top prospects mentioned that they would now be considering Tennessee going forward. While at Alabama, Pruitt was named the recruiter of the year in 2012 according to 247 and hauled in several elite prospects there and ant Florida State and Georgia too.

Lastly and most importantly, Pruitt is a player’s coach. The team will buy into his system in the blink of an eye. Under Jones, that wasn’t the case. Pruitt isn’t a salesman; he’s a genuine person and just a football coach. Fans will come to love Fulmer even more after his home run hire.

Grade: A-

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One Response

  1. The first thing you need to do as coach is burn the black and grey uniforms and all helmets that are not white with orange It’s. Our colors are ORANGE AND WHITE. If players want to wear anything else let them go to another school.

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