The University of Tennessee currently has the No. 1 team in college basketball thanks to the men’s basketball team. The Basketball Vols are currently 21-1 on the season and are riding a 17-game winning streak, the longest streak in school history. They’ve grabbed the attention of the college basketball world and are in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament come March.
But their impact goes beyond just the college basketball world. At least, according to Jeremy Pruitt.
Tennessee’s head football coach met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the Vols’ National Signing Day efforts and UT’s 2019 signing class as a whole. During the press conference, he was asked what Tennessee’s top-15 recruiting class says about the state of the program considering the Vols are coming off back-to-back losing seasons.
Pruitt responded by saying that good recruiting usually starts with tradition and brand recognition. And he gives a lot of credit to Tennessee’s basketball team for keeping UT’s brand in the spotlight.
“One of the big selling points that has helped us in recruiting has been our men’s basketball team,” Pruitt stated. “Everywhere we go, people want to talk about our men’s basketball program. I think that’s a great thing, putting Tennessee on the map.
“Again, it’s building the brand.”
But that’s not all Pruitt had to say about Tennessee’s top-ranked basketball team.
During Tennessee’s National Signing Day celebration in Knoxville with Vol fans in downtown Knoxville, Pruitt expounded upon his answer about Tennessee’s basketball team helping him in recruiting.
“I lost count of how many times I’ve walked in to talk to a recruit and the TV showed our basketball team kicking somebody’s ass,” Pruitt said according to Wes Rucker of 247Sports. “I love it. I love those guys.”
Since Tennessee’s football season ended on November 24th with a 38-13 loss to Vanderbilt, UT’s men’s basketball team hasn’t lost. The Vols lost to then-No. 2 Kansas in overtime on November 23rd, the day before Tennessee’s football season ended.
But since that game, the Vols have rattled off 17 consecutive wins and have captured the top spot in both the AP and Coaches Polls. And that’s been big for Pruitt and his staff on the recruiting trail, because it’s kept the University of Tennessee relevant in the minds of young prospects who don’t have a whole lot of success to look back on for UT’s football program.
Pruitt understands that it takes more than just the football team for him and his staff to have success on the recruiting trail. The football program is at its best when the whole university is operating at high functionality.
“The one thing about the University of Tennessee is that everybody is selling the university,” Pruitt said during his press conference. “Everybody is committed in the recruiting effort. It takes everybody. It takes a great fanbase. The passion of the fanbase, when you walk out here for the Vol Walk and there is somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 folks out there, it’s a sight to see. A stadium that seats 102,000. The way we travel.
“All of these things go in to the opportunity to recruit student-athletes that want to win a championship at Tennessee.”