On Wednesday, Jeremy Pruitt lauded the athleticism of one of his signees in the 2019 class, defensive tackle Elijah Simmons. Pruitt praised Simmons’ ability to move well and with quickness not typical of someone his size. But Pruitt also told a story about Simmons’ ability on the basketball court that caught the attention of Vol fans.
“I asked him the other day, ‘how much do you weight?’ and he said 352,” Pruitt said on Wednesday. “I told him, ‘when we offered you a scholarship, our agreement was that you had to be 325,’ and he said, ‘well coach, I can dunk a basketball right now,’ and I said, ‘well I want you to video and send it to me.
“Well, he did dunk it, but it was an alley-oop, so I told him that he had to get to 325 so he could get off the ground with a ball in his hand to do it. So that tells you a little bit about how he can move.”
At 6-foot, 352 pounds, Simmons — who plays for Pearl Cohn High School in Nashville — isn’t who you would expect to be able to jump high enough to dunk a basketball. But that’s what Pruitt said the high school senior could do.
Well, now Simmons has answered Pruitt’s challenged.
The official Pearl Cohn football Twitter account tweeted out a slow-motion video of Simmons running up to a basketball goal, leaping into the air, and finishing off an alley-oop pass.
— Pearl Cohn Football (@PCHS_Firebirds) December 20, 2018
Yes, Simmons didn’t technically dunk the ball, and yes that was an alley-oop just like Pruitt said. But the fact that someone of his size can still jump that high and even touch the rim is still highly impressive. When you combine that with the toughness and physicality he plays with on the football field, and the Vols have themselves a unique defensive tackle on their roster.
As a senior for Pearl Cohn, Simmons totaled 54 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and an interception he returned for a touchdown according to MaxPreps.