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Peyton Manning: “I Believe in Jeremy Pruitt”

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Tennessee legend and former Vol quarterback Peyton Manning was on the sidelines for the Vols’ match-up with No. 2 Georgia on Saturday. And he was asked about his thoughts on the Vols’ new head coach, Jeremy Pruitt.

CBS caught up with Manning during a break in the action to ask him about the Vols’ coaching search and who UT ultimately decided to lead the team. And Manning had nothing but positive things to say about Tennessee’s new coach at the helm.

“He’s an SEC veteran, he’s been around winning programs, of course played at Alabama,” Manning said. “I played against Jeremy. I love his passion, his intensity. We gotta give him a chance to develop his culture and develop his team, but I believe in him and I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Through four games this season, Pruitt has led the Vols to a 2-2 record. Pruitt took over a team that went 4-8 last season — a program-worst mark — and had a convoluted and infamous coaching search after the season was over.

But Tennessee ultimately went down to Alabama and hired away their defensive coordinator to lead their program. And Manning believes he’s the right choice.

Tennessee’s head coach has severed as an assistant or coordinator for Alabama for most of his coaching career, and he also served as a defensive coordinator for both Florida State and Georgia. He has five national championship rings to his credit as an assistant coach or coordinator.

Pruitt played at Alabama from 1995 to 1996, and he and Manning faced off twice during their college careers. Pruitt played at defensive back for the Tide while Manning, of course, was Tennessee’s quarterback. The Vols beat Alabama 41-14 in 1995 and defeated them again in 1996 by a score of 20-13. That win in 1995 was the first of what would be a seven-game winning streak for the Vols over the Tide.

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