Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt is still in the midst of an internal investigation, but that’s not stopping him from doing all he can to make sure the UT football program is on solid ground.
According to a report from VolQuest, Pruitt flew to California on Friday, along with new defensive assistant Kevin Steele, defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley and director of player development Kevin Simon, to meet with Vols linebacker Henry To’o To’o.
The former four-star linebacker is uncertain about his future at Tennessee due to the dark cloud currently hovering over the program.
Pruitt is doing his best to make sure that To’o To’o returns to Knoxville and suits up for the Volunteers in 2021.
Sounds like a coach pretty locked in, right?
I think there are three things Pruitt’s trip to California possibly tells us.
1. The investigation didn’t immediately reveal anything that would lead Tennessee to fire Pruitt.
This could obviously still change. The investigation isn’t completely over. But Pruitt spoke with lawyers on Thursday for most of the day. If there was something in that interview that was damning, then Pruitt probably wouldn’t be allowed on a plane to head out west to recruit a player that would immediately be a hot commodity in the transfer portal. I don’t think it’s necessarily 100 percent that Pruitt returns in 2021, but I’m feeling pretty confident at this point that he’ll be the Vols’ head coach for a fourth season.
2. Brian Niedermeyer is probably gone
This has long been the assumption. Niedermeyer was the only coach named in the initial report from Fox Sports Knoxville about the investigation. He was also To’o To’o’s primary recruiter. If he’s not on the plane to go see To’ To’o that essentially confirms that he won’t be returning in 2021. Niedermeyer’s contract expires at the end of January.
3. Kevin Steele will likely coach inside linebackers
Ansley going to California tells us he’s likely staying at Tennessee as the Vols’ defensive coordinator. The inclusion of Steele on the trip tells us he will probably be To’o To’o’s position coach in 2021. That makes sense, considering Steele has an extensive amount of experience coaching linebackers. Going from Niedermeyer coaching inside linebackers to Steele coaching inside linebackers should give that position group a huge boost next season.
Featured image via Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK