You wouldn’t know that Jeremy Pruitt was thrown into a chaotic situation based on his performance thus far. Yet, Tennessee’s newest head coach has taken his unique circumstances by the horns and has handled them gracefully despite never once holding a head coaching title.
After all, Pruitt wasn’t approached by Tennessee in a conventional manner. In a sense, he was a last-resort candidate selected due to the athletic department’s previous unraveling. Throw in the fact that he’s coaching in the College Football Playoff and had to compile a staff rapidly in order to compensate for the first-ever installment of an early signing period, Pruitt essentially had to learn on the fly.
So far, so good.
The Vols currently sit at No. 27 on 247Sports’ composite team recruiting rankings. Considering Tennessee was at one point ranked in the 50’s, Pruitt’s ability to elevate Tennessee’s class to a respectable ranking is impressive, especially after several recruits opted to take their talents elsewhere as Team 121’s season came undone.
Pruitt wasn’t able to flip highly touted offensive linemen Cade Mays — there simply wasn’t enough time. However, landing the nation’s top JUCO tight end was certainly a massive victory — over Alabama. In addition, several recruits have expressed newfound interest in the Vols upon Pruitt’s arrival.
On the surface, none of this seems like a big deal. However, considering how damaged Tennessee’s reputation was nationally after the Greg Schiano situation, the fact that the Vols’ recruiting class hasn’t torpedoed is a massive accomplishment.
In fact, the class is comparable to other classes by big-time programs who experienced coaching changes. For example, Tom Herman guided Texas to the No. 25 overall class last year, but didn’t have to overcome the obstacle of an early signing period. Scott Frost was arguably the hottest commodity during this year’s coaching carousel — Nebraska has the 42nd ranked class.
Granted, the Cornhuskers started from a much lower position than Tennessee and face geographical hurdles, but regardless, despite his non-existent track record as a head coach, Pruitt hasn’t let his inexperience deter him from keeping the Vols afloat when it appeared everything was drowning.
Pruitt will also receive the added bonus of the normal signing day. Once his days as Alabama’s defensive coordinator are officially over, he’ll immediately hit the ground running and bolster Tennessee’s position not only this year, but the next couple of years.
Of course, the abundance of hype surrounding Pruitt’s recruiting performance is only an indication that he’s passed the first test. Everything to this point is all-for-not if the Vols don’t produce on the field.
For Pruitt, that’s the only test that matters.
Photo via Knoxville News Sentinel