Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt proved during his first season on Rocky Top that his reputation as a defensive mastermind is more than deserved.
And it’s not because the Vols were spectacular defensively last year. Far from it, in fact.
But Pruitt took a situation that was worse than dire and made it not as bad.
Tennessee didn’t have a lot of quality secondary options heading into the 2018 season. Yet they ended up with two of the best cornerbacks in the SEC….and they were both true freshmen. Pruitt took a high school wide receiver (Alontae Taylor) and a player who didn’t sign until three months after National Signing Day (Bryce Thompson) and turned them into productive cornerbacks.
No one expected those two players to be nearly as good as they were. Hell, no one expected Taylor to be on the defensive side of the ball.
That’s why fans should be extremely excited about true freshman Warren Burrell. He might end up being the next unheralded recruit that Pruitt turns into a star.
Burrell, a three-star recruit who was rated by 247Sports as the No. 70 player in the state of Georgia, is already impressing during Tennessee’s fall camp.
Vols freshman CB Warren Burrell has been as impressive as any newcomer to start camp.
Already running No. 3 behind Taylor and Thompson. He competes hard, is a quick learner. He won (2) or tied all three reps today in the press-coverage drill vs. Palmer, Callaway and Jennings.
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) August 4, 2019
If Pruitt was able to turn a wide receiver and a player who waited three months to sign into starting SEC cornerbacks, there’s no telling what he can do with Burrell.
Taylor and Thompson might be the starters, but Burrell will see plenty of action in 2019. Depth at every position is tested in the SEC. Burrell will get his opportunity to shine.
Freshman corner Warren Burrell jammed up Jauan Jennings in this release drill. pic.twitter.com/vKp3uHvQ3Q
— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 4, 2019
Pruitt’s ability to develop defensive backs should have Vol fans fired up for the future of the program. Not to discount the talent of Taylor, Thompson or Burrell, but imagine what Pruitt will be able to do with five-star talent.
That should be a scary thought for the rest of the SEC.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — there’s a good chance that Tennessee becomes “DBU” under Jeremy Pruitt.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports