Thursday afternoon, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke with the media for the first time in over two months. So much has changed since then for his players and the country.
Pruitt was asked about his players returning and supporting his players during a protest in downtown Knoxville:
“Obviously right before the players came back we had a lot of circumstances that had happened throughout our country, that everybody was aware of. We started really with just sitting down with our team and talking about it. Giving the floor to a lot of our players to share experiences, so that everybody within our program would have a better understanding. From a communication standpoint, in my lifetime, this is the first time I can ever remember, with all the things that are going on, not only from our country but from really our world, there is conversation on how to put measures in to create change. Absolutely I want to be an advocate of that and to support our players and use our platform at Tennessee to help create that.”
Pruitt announced recently that Tee Martin would be heading up a “Culture Committee” around the football program, along with a few players and staff. When asked how this was going so far, Pruitt said:
“It has been really good. Tee has done a fantastic job heading it up and getting our players involved and getting feedback. Once he is getting the feedback, it is us acting upon it. We are in the process now, we started today, getting all our of players registered to vote. That is a start. There are lots of things when students get back on campus. Speakers that we plan to have come in here, things we want to do during the season.”
This has been a time where athletes are starting to use their own voice to attract attention to causes they believe in, and Pruitt is standing by their side, even embracing a fundraiser for the Black Lives Matter group.
“One of the things that we want to do is when we play the Kentucky game, we want to wear black jerseys. When the game is over with, find a way to auction the jerseys and raise money for Black Lives Matter. That is one thing our kids have talked about. It is something that is going to continue to be stressed within our staff. With Tee’s leadership and the guys within our program, there’s lot of really good ideas we can help improve and use our platform to create change.”
If there is one thing that is obvious right now on the campus of Tennessee, Pruitt has his players backs and he’ll stand beside them as they navigate through this movement together.