Jeremy Pruitt is 7-12 as the head coach of the Tennessee Vols.
I don’t need to tell you that 7-12 isn’t a good record as a head coach.
But despite Pruitt’s rough win-loss record, he’s still having a lot of success on the recruiting trail.
Just this week, the Vols landed commitments from a trio of four-star athletes from Memphis.
Tennessee’s won two games this season. They’ve won 11 games since the start of the 2017 season. This is the lowest point in program history. Yet, somehow, Pruitt has the Volunteers’ 2020 recruiting class at No. 20 in the nation.
It’s actually stunning.
But how is he doing it?
It’s actually quite simple — trust.
Recruits trust Pruitt. They trust his vision. They trust that he cares about him. And their families trust Pruitt, too.
Four-star linebacker Bryson Eason, one of the Memphis natives who committed to Tennessee earlier this week, told VolQuest that the way his family connected with the coaches at UT is part of what made the Vols stand out to him. Eason said “They loved my family and my family loved them, it was just the right thing to do”. He added “I know I trust him (Pruitt) and I wanted to play for him and coach Ansley. I wanted to be a part of their family because of the trust.”
A lot of coaches, such as former Vols head coach Butch Jones, manage to recruit well early in their tenures because of promises that end up being unfulfilled.
Pruitt, however, isn’t making empty promises to recruits. He isn’t promising playing time, he’s promising the opportunity to compete. Pruitt is real with recruits, and they sense that. Their families sense it.
It also helps that Pruitt’s resumé speaks for itself. No one can question Pruitt’s football acumen.
Fans should realize that it’s going to take a while for Pruitt to turn Tennessee around. He’s going to have to slowly build the program by stocking up on top 15 recruiting classes.
Elite recruits, for the most part, are going to sign with schools where competing for a national championship is a certainty. Until Tennessee is nearing that level, they probably won’t land signing classes like Alabama or Clemson. For now, that’s the only thing holding Tennessee back from being great.
Pruitt will have to work his way to that point. But I think it’s clear that he has the recruiting skills to land the elite recruits once the Vols start winning eight to ten games a year on a consistent basis.
There are no gimmicks in Pruitt’s recruiting approach. It’s a genuine, organic approach that will work for as long as college football is being played.
And that’s great news for the future of Tennessee football.
Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports