Report: Pruitt to Make Big Addition to Staff

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    (Photo via Matt Cashore/USA Today Sports)

    Jeremy Pruitt has filled his on-field coaching vacancies this offseason so far. After David Johnson left to take the role as Florida State’s running backs coach and Kevin Sherrer left UT for the New York Giants in the NFL, Pruitt hired former Vol running back Jay Graham to be Tennessee’s running backs coach, and Brian Niedermeyer was moved over to coach inside linebackers while Joe Osovet was promoted from his off-field role to be UT’s next tight ends coach.

    While Pruitt’s on-field staff seems settled, he still has plenty of room to add some help in the form of off-field analysts. According to a report, Pruitt is set to add a well-known name to his staff as an offensive analyst.

    Per John Brice of and Lettermen Row, multiple sources have indicated to him that Tennessee will hire former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long as an off-field offensive analyst. Brice adds that Long is close with Niedermeyer, and it’s believed Long was in Knoxville back in December.

    The 36-year-old coach served as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator from 2017-19 and was a finalist for the Broyles Award — the annual award given to the top assistant coach in college football — in 2018. On December 11, 2019, it was announced that Chip Long would not be retained as the Irish’s OC.

    Prior to taking the offensive coordinator position at Notre Dame, Long served as Mike Norvell’s OC at Memphis in 2016. He coached tight ends and was the recruiting coordinator at Arizona State from 2012-15, and he coached tight ends and fullbacks at Illinois from 2010-11. Long played at North Alabama as a wide receiver/tight end from 2002-05.

    As Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, the Irish ranked in the top 45 in the FBS in points per game and yards per game all three years he was in South Bend. This past season, Notre Dame averaged 36.8 points a game, which ranked 13th in the nation. The Irish’s 431.2 yards per game ranked 44th in the country.

    At Memphis, the Tigers averaged 38.8 points a game and 463.7 yards a game in Long’s lone year as their OC.

    Long is regarded as an innovator in the RPO offense, much like newly-promoted tight ends coach Joe Osovet for Tennessee. Osovet’s offenses in the junior college ranks were explosive and high-scoring, just like Long’s offenses have been statistically at the FBS level.

    As a recruiter, Long seemed to come into his own at Notre Dame. He was credited as the primary recruiter for five-star tight end Michael Mayer, four-star running back Chris Tyree, four-star offensive tackle Tosh Baker, four-star quarterback Drew Pyne, four-star tight end Kevin Bauman, and three-star wide receiver Xavier Watts in Notre Dame’s 2020 class. On 247Sports, Long is listed as the 12th-best recruiter in the 2020 cycle across the entire FBS.

    Hiring prominent names as off-field analysts is nothing new to college football, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban has made it a popular trend. He’s brought in the likes of Steve Sarkisian and Butch Jones as off-field analysts, and other schools have done similarly.

    Pruitt has hired his fair share of notable off-field analysts at Tennessee, with former Vol linebacker Kevin Simon, former Alabama analyst Kerry Stevenson, and Patrick Abernathy currently on staff.