Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s day-to-day job is no longer centered around defense.
While the first-year head coach is without question a brilliant defensive mind, he now is, in essence, a manager. Sure, he’ll stay involved with the x’s and o’s, as well as player development, but his primary role is to piece together a staff and roster that function like a well-oiled machine.
Based on his hires at both coordinator slots, Pruitt is setting the wheels in motion for what looks to be Tennessee’s strongest coaching staff in years, making his job as head coach a whole lot easier.
Offensive Coordinator Tyson Helton
Although Vol Nation was clamoring for Pruitt to target USC Offensive Coordinator/Former VFL Tee Martin, snatching the Trojans’ QB coach Tyson Helton was a great hire.
Helton’s resume is impressive. He spent two seasons as Western Kentucky’s Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach (under Jeff Brohm) before relocating to Southern California in 2016. During his two seasons with the Hilltoppers, Helton helped guide the Western Kentucky offense at least 30 points in 24 of his 27 games in Bowling Green.
Now, Helton takes his coaching talents to East Tennessee, where he’ll take over as not only the team’s Offensive Coordinator, but the QB coach. For Tennessee, that’s a breath of fresh air, especially since Helton knows how to develop quarterbacks.
Over the past four seasons, Helton’s quarterbacks have thrown a combined 154 touchdowns to 41 interceptions.
He’ll certainly have his work cut out for him in Knoxville. Last season, the Volunteers were dreadful through the air, finishing with 11 total touchdown passes and 10 interceptions between three quarterbacks.
Defensive Coordinator Kevin Sherrer
Unlike Helton, Pruitt has extensive history with Kevin Sherrer. Both spent time together at Hoover High School in the mid-2000’s before joining forces at both Alabama and Georgia.
Sherrer spent three seasons as Alabama’s Director of Player Development (2010-2012). In that span, the Crimson Tide won a pair of National Championships. A couple of seasons later, Sherrer became Georgia’s OLB coach, where he developed some of the nation’s most talented linebackers over the course of four years.
Although injuries along the front seven have played a massive role in Tennessee’s failures at stopping the run over the past few seasons, there were too many instances of poor tackling and lousy gap discipline.
With Sherrer, stopping the run will be of the utmost importance.
Tennessee’s coaching staff isn’t littered with established names. However, both Helton and Sherrer are experienced and successful enough to earn Pruitt’s trust early on.
Because of that, Pruitt is free to focus on other areas of the team, which makes his life on Rocky Top much easier.