Rock bottom, new coach, hope, improvement, rock bottom again.
That’s the vicious cycle the Tennessee Vols have been caught up in for over a decade.
But there’s hope, again, that Jeremy Pruitt will finally right the ship and return Tennessee to the upper echelon of college football.
On Friday, Pruitt took another step to returning the Vols to glory by landing a commitment from four-star linebacker BJ Ojulari.
The Georgia native told Rivals that he committed to Tennessee he knows Pruitt “is going to get it right”.
Ojulari chose the Vols over Auburn and LSU. These are the types of recruiting battles UT needs to win if they’re going to become an elite program again.
It’s just another positive sign that Pruitt is the right guy for Tennessee.
Red Flags have been abundant for the Vols
So far during Pruitt’s tenure there haven’t been any major red flags.
That’s a pretty big deal, because the last couple of coaches on Rocky Top displayed plenty of red flags during the early part of their tenure.
Derek Dooley brought a career losing record with him when he was hired in 2010. That turned out to be a major red flag. He also made some coaching gaffes in his first season that cost Tennessee some games (most notably the LSU debacle).
Butch Jones also had plenty of red flags. His inability to bring an elite staff to Knoxville. The regression of a veteran offensive line. The Cincinnati fans that wished the Vols good luck with Jones and his cliche spewing personality.
And who can forget columns like this, published the day Tennessee hired Jones.
If Vol fans were honest with themselves, and many of them were, they would’ve known early on that Dooley and Jones weren’t going to be successful at UT.
Skepticism has become a popular character trait in Knoxville these days, thanks to years of unfulfilled hope.
But even the biggest skeptic can’t find the same red flags with Pruitt that were present with Dooley and Jones.
The former Alabama assistant is doing everything right…..so far.
Pruitt has hired one of the top staffs in the nation. He’s going for the top recruits (Jones didn’t even try to recruit of the nation’s top rated players), he’s landing some top notch talent and he’s developing young players and trusting them to play important roles.
There was even the road win against Auburn last season that broke an eight year losing streak to the SEC West.
Those are the things that fans should want to see from Pruitt. It means that Tennessee’s second year head coach is correctly identifying young talent and he’s living up to his reputation as one of the top defensive coaches in the nation.
The next step is to win seven or eight games. If the Vols can get there in 2019, it will be another sign that Pruitt is marching forward in the right direction.
However, if Tennessee can’t reach a bowl game, it’ll be the first red flag for Pruitt.
I’m not expecting any red flags from Pruitt.
But by now, we should all know that if a red flag presents itself, we should probably take it seriously — they typically aren’t wrong.
Featured image via Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports