Former Tennessee Vols defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo saw two different worlds during his time on Rocky Top.
Kongbo was around for two years of the Butch Jones era, which was fraught with drama and, at times, controversy.
Who can forget the time Kongbo tweeted a picture of some cleats and everyone thought he was retiring? Only to have Jones tell reporters that Kongbo was actually upset over a game of FIFA.
All things must come to an end pic.twitter.com/Zd9YuNLNnD
— Jonathan Kongbo (@King_Kongbo) October 30, 2016
Not only did Kongbo have to fend off questions about his commitment to Tennessee football, he also had to deal with multiple position changes under Jones. He played at defensive tackle in 2016, before moving to defensive end in 2017.
Under Pruitt, despite having to switch positions again (he played JACK linebacker in 2018, before suffering a season-ending knee injury), Kongbo experienced a “football first” atmosphere that was absent of any coaching drama.
There was no scuttle in the media about mislabeled injuries, or players being promised to play certain positions (or in certain formations). And there were no reports of unreported concussions. It was all football.
So it should be no surprise that Kongbo had some very high praise for Pruitt when he talked to reporters at Tennessee’s pro-day on Thursday.
Former #Vols DL/LB Jonathan Kongbo: I played for a lot of coaches in my career, but none of them were better than Coach Pruitt. I’m telling you, this guy get it. People who haven’t seen it yet are gonna see it. There’s no doubt in my mind. I wish I could have played more for him.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) March 14, 2019
It’s quite possible that Kongbo saw Tennessee’s football program at its absolute worst and also saw it at the beginning of its ascent back up the ladder to greatness.
Pruitt certainly stands the best chance of any of the Vols’ recent coaches (since 2008) of returning Vol football to an elite level.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports