One of the main things Vol fans liked about Jeremy Pruitt when he was first hired was that he seemed to be up front and honest with his comments. Pruitt didn’t use slogans or clichés to get his points across, and after five years of Butch Jones, Vol fans welcomed the direct speech with open arms.
Apparently, Pruitt’s honesty doesn’t just extend to his sessions with media and fans, though.
During Vol Calls on Wednesday night, one caller asked Pruitt about recruiting and how does he and his staff react after a game like Saturday when the Vols had a large amount of recruits on campus for a 47-21 loss to Florida. And Pruitt’s trademark frankness was on display once again.
“Well, I think most recruits, they’re looking at a school, probably because of the coaching staff, what they can do to help them develop as a player, academically,” Pruitt said according to the transcript from 247Sports. “You know, when you’re talking to recruits now, there’s no secret. When they came here and we started recruiting them, I told them, I said this will probably be the worst year with me being the head football coach, because it’s the first year. But one good thing about it, you’re not on this team.
“I think our guys are going to work hard who are on this team that are going to give us a chance to build a culture around here to have success down the road.”
It’s clear that Pruitt hasn’t been telling recruits right now that Tennessee is going to “shock the world” in his first year. Pruitt and his staff understand what kind of rebuild they’ve undertaken, and they know they have to change the culture at Tennessee. And they’ve been telling recruits just that.
That doesn’t mean Pruitt and his staff have given up on the season, but he knows this year’s roster isn’t the right fit for what he and his staff want to accomplish. Can they still win with this roster? Yes. But can they reach their ultimate goals with this roster? No.
I took a look on RTI Premium earlier this week about the impact the Florida game would have on recruiting, and my thoughts echoed exactly what Pruitt said on Wednesday night. He’s been up front with the prospects UT has been targeting, and the Florida game was just another example of why Tennessee needs the players they’re recruiting.
Right now, the Vols have commitments from 20 players in their 2019 class, and they’re in on several highly-rated players still in the 2019 cycle as well. One of the reasons Pruitt and his staff have been so appealing to recruits is because it appears as though UT’s staff isn’t trying to coerce them into joining the Vols; they’re simply offering a chance to compete and telling them they need players with their abilities in order to achieve their goals at UT.
Time will tell if Pruitt’s approach will work at Tennessee, but the early returns on the recruiting trail are positive for him and his staff. And that largely has to do with his honesty and frankness with the recruits he’s targeting.