Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt ruffled a few feathers in 2018 after the attendance at his first Orange and White game wasn’t quite up to his standards.
Jeremy Pruitt on the Tennessee fans. “The ones who were here, I’m proud they were here. They’re fired up. … And then there were some … why (weren’t) they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) April 21, 2018
Since 2018, Pruitt has made it a point to implore fans to come out to Neyland to cheer on the Vols. And he’s made sure to compliment the fan base when they show up in droves.
Jeremy Pruitt on Tennessee’s fan base: When you come out and see 55,000-60,000 fans on the street for the Vol Walk, for a spring game, we have to give them something to be proud of again
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) May 29, 2019
It seems like Pruitt is constantly talking about fans showing up for games.
And he should be.
Because attendance, and a rowdy crowd, plays a huge part in recruiting.
2022 defensive back JQ Hardaway, a 6-foot-3 recruit from Georgia, recently talked to Rivals about Tennessee and the Vol fan base.
Hardaway told Rivals he likes Tennessee for two main reasons — defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley and the UT fans.
Hardaway: “I also like the fans at Tennessee. I have been there for camp, then I was there for game during the season, and the fans really impressed me. It was loud and they love their team.”
Nothing sells a university like a passionate fan base. And there’s no doubt that Vol fans are some of the most passionate in college football. They’ve stuck with UT over the last decade through thick and (mostly) thin.
And that’s something that recruits clearly notice.
Pruitt is always going to harp on attendance because he views it as a recruiting tool. And we know that Pruitt is never going to be satisfied when it comes to recruiting. That’s why fans shouldn’t take it personal if Pruitt urges more folks to show up for games. He’s only trying to help Tennessee be at its best as a program.
Fans are indirectly a big part of the recruiting process. As long as they’re not tweeting at 16-18 year olds telling them where to go to school. There’s never a good reason to go down that road.
Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports