If the Tennessee Vols are ever going to be great with Jeremy Pruitt (or any coach for that matter) at the helm, they’ll have to recruit at an elite level.
Of course, programs that haven’t had a winning season in three years don’t just start recruiting at an elite level. They have to build up to that.
In order to start landing elite recruits on a consistent basis, the Vols need to show improvement on the field. And they need to have a unique recruiting approach.
The first will come with time (at least that’s what Tennessee fans are hoping).
As for the latter, it appears the Volunteers already have that part down.
The Vols currently have the nation’s No. 21 2020 recruiting class. That’s not bad for a program that won nine games combined the previous two seasons and got off to a 1-4 start in 2019.
How are they landing recruits without setting the SEC on fire on Saturdays?
Well, it’s the vibe they’re creating in recruiting.
Three-star offensive lineman Kyree Miller, who committed to UT on Tuesday, told VolQuest that Tennessee is “different” than the other colleges that had been recruiting him.
“They are different vibe from all the other colleges and coaches that have been recruiting and calling me,” Miller said. “They have a different vibe and for me if you have a different vibe then we are going to get along. I like to be different.”
So what’s different about the vibe?
According to Miller, the Vols’ coaches “care for their players”. Now, that’s something that most recruits probably say about the school they commit to/sign with.
Miller broke it down a bit more by saying “It’s not that they are showing love because you play football. They are showing love because you are human. They treat their players like men.”
This isn’t an approach by Pruitt and his staff that only Miller has noticed. Players that don’t end up signing with Pruitt have also noticed the different “vibe”.
Vols defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon, who originally signed with Michigan, was recruited by Pruitt at Alabama. When Solomon told Pruitt that he was signing with Michigan, the former Alabama defensive coordinator had nothing negative to say.
Solomon told reporters on Tuesday of the interaction with Pruitt “This was the one coach that didn’t bash for me my decision. He understood and he was like, ‘You know what, if anything ever happens, I’m one phone call away, you’ve always got me.’ That really stuck with me.”
It stuck with Solomon enough that he didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Tennessee when he decided to leave Michigan.
I think it’s clear that Pruitt is connecting with recruits on a level that goes much deeper than just football. He’s creating genuine relationships with kids that will last a lifetime — even if they don’t sign with the Vols.
Eventually, those genuine relationships are going to help Tennessee rise to the top of the recruiting world.
If the Vols start collecting more wins on an annual basis, the recruiting floodgates might just open for Tennessee.
These might be the last of the dark days of UT football.
Featured image via USA Today