Atlanta, GA — During a media session at SEC Media Days in Atlanta on Tuesday, Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart was questioned about new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Regarding Pruitt’s strengths as a coach, Smart said Pruitt “relates to players really well and is very, very bright within the game. Tactically, he understands players, so it’s not just about tactics. He was a big asset for us early on at Alabama that people didn’t realize.”
Both Smart and Pruitt served as the Tide’s defensive coordinators in their coaching careers. Smart was the defensive coordinator for Alabama from 2008 to 2015, and Pruitt took over that position immediately after Smart was hired as the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2016. The two coached together at Alabama as well. Pruitt served as the Tide’s Director of Player Development from 2007 to 2009 then was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2010. He served in that role till 2012.
Smart also freely credited Pruitt with some of Alabama’s success when they were on staff together.
“Some different ideas he had given us were successful, and I was quick to give him credit and tell him he was responsible for one of those sacks,” Smart stated. “I was just the guy who called it. He was one of the guys who designed and came up with it.”
The defending SEC champion head coach even sees similarities between himself and Pruitt, though Pruitt has yet to coach a game at Tennessee.
“He’s the son of a high school coach, similar to me,” Smart added. “He grew up around the game and learned at an early age. I look at Jeremy as very similar to myself in the way that we have grown in coaching and the development we’ve had, and we’ve been fortunate to be around some really good coaches.”
Vol fans hope that Pruitt can follow in Smart’s footsteps when it comes to having early success as a head coach. Smart went 8-5 in his first year with Georgia then helped lead the Bulldogs to a 13-2 record, SEC title, and appearance in the National Championship Game in his second year.
We will continue to bring you coverage from SEC Media Days later this week.