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Is Pruitt’s Staff the Best Recruiting Staff Ever at Tennessee?

Photo credit: Will Boling/RTI

New Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt still doesn’t have his full coaching staff filled out with the Vols. But what he has so far has been praised by fans and media alike, and the current configuration of coaches could be the best recruiting staff ever brought together at Tennessee in the modern era.

Pruitt and his staff have some stiff competition when it comes to figuring out which Tennessee coaching staff is the best at recruiting. Certainly Phillip Fulmer and the various iterations of his coaching staff while at Tennessee knew how to recruit, especially in the 1990s and early 2000s. Johnny Majors and his staffs knew how to identify talent, and Robert Neyland had some of the best teams in Tennessee history.

The competition is fierce. But Pruitt and his staff have an impressive track record as recruiters in the SEC and at other stops as well.

Pruitt himself has been one of the best recruiters in college football over the last few years. During his stops at Florida State, Georgia, and Alabama, he’s brought in 11 five-star players and 26 four-star players according to the 247Sport Composite rankings.

That alone is an impressive total. But when you throw in the recruiting prowess his current coaching staff members bring to the table, Tennessee’s coaching staff looks extremely formidable on the recruiting trail.

Tracy Rocker, who projects to be the Vols’ defensive line coach, has been the second-most accomplished recruiter behind Pruitt. He’s brought in a five-star and 16 four-stars in his various stops as an assistant coach. Kevin Sherrer, who is expected to be Tennessee’s defensive coordinator, has secured commitments from a five-star and 12 four-stars during his coaching career.

Here’s a list of just how accomplished Pruitt’s staff has been at recruiting during their tenures:

Tracy Rocker (defensive line): 1 five-star, 16 four-stars
Kevin Sherrer (defensive coordinator): 1 five-star, 12 four-stars
Will Friend (offensive line): 1 five-star, 4 four-stars
Tyson Helton (offensive coordinator/QB coach): 1 five-star, 2 four-stars
Chris Rumph (linebackers): 17 four-stars

If you total all those together along with Pruitt, Tennessee’s current coaching staff has brought in 15 five-stars and 78 four-stars throughout their coaching careers. Robert Gillespie, who was also on Butch Jones’ staff at Tennessee, is credited with getting commitments from 12 four-star players in his coaching career. So if you add in his track record, that number grows to 90 four-stars brought in over the last few years by Pruitt’s staff.

During Butch Jones’ time as head coach, the Vols brought in two five-star players and 49 four-star players combined in the 2013-17 recruiting classes according to 247Sports. Granted, some of the recruits that Pruitt’s coaching staff are credited with came before the 2013 cycle, but their recruiting background is still more impressive than what Jones or any of his staff members had on their records prior to coming to Tennessee. And they outweigh what Jones and his staff did while with the Vols as well.

Terry Fair, Tennessee’ expected defensive backs coach, hasn’t had much chance to show what he can do at recruiting. He’s only coached at Colorado State as an actual assistant coach, but he figures to feature heavily in the Vols’ recruiting efforts with this staff and is the main recruiter on five-star cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart and two four-star corners in the Vols’ 2018 recruiting cycle.

Time will tell what Pruitt and his staff can do from a recruiting standpoint at Tennessee. But their combined track records before Tennessee are highly impressive, and they have the potential to be one of the best recruiting staffs the Vols have ever seen.

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