Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt made a bold decision earlier this offseason by allowing defensive line coach Tracy Rocker’s contract to expire, essentially moving on from the veteran assistant coach.
Rocker did a good job coaching Tennessee’s defensive line during his two seasons at UT (they were one of the most improved units for the Vols in 2019), but his recruiting efforts left a lot to be desired.
Pruitt replaced Rocker by hiring Colorado defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh to coach Tennessee’s defensive line (while Rocker took the same position on Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina).
There were rumblings for months that Rocker wouldn’t be back in Knoxville in 2020, so it wasn’t a surprise that a change was made.
Hiring Brumbaugh, however, wasn’t an expected move by Pruitt. His name never really surfaced until just before the hire was reported.
Pruitt obviously knew what he was doing, though.
Brumbaugh, who coached at Kentucky with Vols defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, is already paying dividends for Tennessee.
On Saturday, three-star defensive linemen Isaac Washington, 6-foot-3/268 lbs from Pilot Mountain, NC, re-committed to Tennessee after a visit to Rocky Top.
Washington previously decommitted from the Vols after Rocker left for South Carolina. Saturday was his first time meeting Brumbaugh.
The North Carolina native told VolQuest of the visit “He’s a good coach….he’s a good teacher.”
— isaac (@isaacw_74) March 8, 2020
Four-star defensive lineman Payton Page, 6-foot-4/342 lbs from Greensboro, NC, echoed those sentiments after visiting UT on Saturday, telling VolQuest “It really changed how I think about Tennessee….how the defensive line coach thinks.”
Page added “It was natural talking to him (Brumbaugh). Usually it’s kind of awkward talking to a coach because I never had met him. I felt like I had talked to him before.”
The stud defensive lineman is one of the Vols’ top 2021 recruiting targets. But they aren’t alone in their pursuit of Page. Clemson, LSU, and North Carolina, among many others, are also strongly pursuing the Greensboro native.
But it’s clear that Brumbaugh made a big impression on Page — which is what he was hired to do. This is just another example of Pruitt knowing exactly what needs to be done to make Tennessee’s coaching staff better.
I’ve yet to see Pruitt made a bad coaching hire (Tyson Helton as offensive coordinator didn’t work out very well, but Pruitt quickly corrected the situation). He’s continuously finding a way to improve Tennessee football from top to bottom.
The Vols’ staff experienced a lot of turnover this year, but it’s as strong as ever.
Featured image via Colorado Athletics