Pruitt Says Stars Aren’t What Matter in Recruiting

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    Photo Credit: Will Boling/RTI

    Too often, fans and media get caught “star gazing” in recruiting. Those who are guilty of that often take a prospect’s star rating over everything else and only want coaches to go after the five-star and highly-rated four-stars in any given class.

    Some fans accused former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones of doing just that, looking more at a player’s ratings rather than actual film or anything else. But what about the Vols’ new head coach?

    If Jeremy Pruitt’s words are to be believed, he won’t fall into the trap of “star gazing” when on the recruiting trail.

    Pruitt spoke to the Rotary Club in Knoxville, and he covered a multitude of topics. He spoke about what Phillip Fulmer told him when he was hired as head coach, and he also touched on his approach to recruiting. And Pruitt said that he’s not going to let recruiting rankings dictate what he thinks about a prospect.

    “Everybody talks about looking at highlights, looking at stars. I can tell you this: We look at nothing that has to do with the ratings of a football player,” Pruitt said during his speech. “I think there were 16 guys who were five-stars out of high school who didn’t even get drafted (into the NFL) the other night. There were three kids who weren’t even three-stars who were drafted in the first round.

    “So I can tell you right now, when you look at the recruiting industry, I’m not going to let somebody else tell me who a football player is and who’s not.”

    Pruitt may not care about stars, but he’s been able to pull in his fair share of highly-rated prospects throughout the years. According to 247Sports, Pruitt has been responsible for getting signatures of 26 four-star players and 11 five-star prospects during his stops at Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State.

    And so far at Tennessee, Pruitt has been able to bring in some talented players in the 2018 and 2019 classes.

    Pruitt and his staff signed 21 players officially and added another blueshirt player (cornerback Brandon Davis) in the Vols’ 2018 signing class. Of those 22 players, 16 were players that Pruitt and his staff added who weren’t already committed to Tennessee when they took over. One of those includes Alontae Taylor, a four-star athlete who decommitted shortly after the firing of Butch Jones and recommitted to Pruitt.

    Of the 16 players that Pruitt and his staff signed who weren’t previously committed, six were four-star prospects. And so far in the 2019 class, Pruitt and his staff have gotten commitments from two four-star players in offensive tackle Wanya Morris and offensive lineman Jackson Lampley.

    Stars aren’t everything in recruiting, but they do usually pan out more often than not. But they shouldn’t be the only thing a coach looks at. After all, cornerback Cam Sutton was a three-star coming out of high school, and defensive back Rashaan Gaulden was as well. Now both are in the NFL, and both were drafted within the first 100 overall picks of their respective draft class.

    Recruiting isn’t an easy business, and Pruitt understands that better than most. But his track record with recruiting and developing players should lend credence to his philosophy behind finding prospects.

    Here’s the full clip of Pruitt’s talk about recruiting at the Rotary Club:

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.