Jeremy Pruitt is one win away from a fifth championship ring and second overall as a defensive coordinator (2013 Florida State).
Granted, coaching under Nick Saban inherently makes everyone richer, but even Saban was quick to heap praise toward Pruitt after Alabama’s 24-6 win over the top-ranked Clemson Tigers in the College Football Semi-Final.
That’s because Pruitt is everything Saban wants – a relentless recruiter who instills discipline across all fronts on his defensive players. If he picks up ring No. 5, then Pruitt’s soon-to-be home of Knoxville will reap the benefits.
Alabama’s calling card has always been its overpowering defense, particularly in the front seven. However, the Crimson Tide’s formula on offense complimented their defense perfectly with a ground-and-pound approach, paired with conservative, yet effective quarterback play.
Since Pruitt’s arrival as the defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s offense hasn’t featured that dynamic. While the bulky, athletic running backs still exist, the Crimson Tide’s lack of a passing game has hindered the team at various points. The fact that Alabama is 26-2 over the last two seasons is a testament to Pruitt and his coaching abilities.
Should Alabama defeat Georgia on Monday – which is likely considering Saban has yet to lose to a former assistant of his and Alabama routinely beats teams who feature a non-spread offense – then a tidal wave of momentum will follow Pruitt to Rocky Top.
Obviously, when you picture an Alabama defense, the first word that comes to mind is physicality. That’s largely due to the type of players Saban demands his coach’s recruit – the kinds that are built like trucks but move like Ferraris.
Okay, maybe that last player didn’t move like a Ferrari, but that play was indicative of what style of defense Pruitt will bring to East Tennessee. One that relentlessly applies pressure and possesses a ball-hawk mentality regardless of position.
Players of this athletic caliber don’t play for anybody. They gravitate toward coaches who utilize their talents properly. That’s exactly what Pruitt does, and now that he has national name recognition due to his newfound position, recruits will watch the 2018 National Championship in awe of his work.
His work includes coaching a pair of defenses that finished first in the nation in defensive efficiency (2013 Florida State and 2016 Alabama), as well as a defense this season that led the nation in fewest points allowed. Against Clemson, the Crimson Tide held the Tigers to 29 points under their season average.
For Nick Saban, there’s nothing left to prove. Regardless of Monday’s result, he’s still one of the greatest coaches in the history of collegiate athletics.
For Jeremy Pruitt, it’s a chance for his biggest statement yet. If the Tide roll, then so will Pruitt and the Vols heading into the 2018 offseason.
Featured Image via USA Today