Former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt joined the Crain and Company Show Wednesday for one of his first interviews since Tennessee terminated him with cause in January on 2021.
Show host Jake Crain asked the former Vol head coach and SEC defensive coordinator which SEC teams could be in for a breakout season and Pruitt provided surprisingly glowing reviews for his former team.
“I think it starts at quarterback,” Pruitt said. “You starting looking at the teams who have the most experience coming back at quarterback and I would start at Tennessee. With Hendon Hooker and the success they had last year. As they grow and develop a little bit on defense, they’re going to score points.”
SEC coach Jeremy Pruitt makes his pick for the breakout team of the upcoming CFB season👇
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Pruitt also suggested Kentucky — who provided Pruitt with perhaps the most devastating loss of his head coaching tenure — as a potential breakout team in 2022.
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The former Tennessee head coach highlighted the play of quarterback Hendon Hooker for why he thinks the Vols could have a breakout season. While Hooker never played for Pruitt, the Virginia Tech quarterback announced plans to transfer to Tennessee just weeks before the UT terminated Pruitt’s contract.
While an abundance of Pruitt era players have transferred away and graduated from Tennessee since his departure, the 48-year old coached a number of players still on Tennessee’s roster.
Tennessee fired Pruitt with cause stemming from impermissible recruiting activities during his time in Knoxville. Firing Pruitt with cause allowed the Vols not to pay his buyout and while Pruitt’s lawyer threatened a lawsuit if a settlement couldn’t be reached that lawsuit has yet to come.
Pruitt spent the 2021 football season as a senior defensive assistant for the New York Giants. The Giants fired head coach Joe Judge following an unsuccessful season leaving Pruitt searching for a new coaching gig. The former Tennessee head coach is untouchable in the college ranks due to the ongoing NCAA investigation into his wrongdoings in Knoxville.