Yes, I know, this is contradictory to what you’ve been reading from the website lately. Thankfully, that’s the glory of the opinion pieces. You get differing opinions even amongst those who are writing for the same media company.
So, here it goes: here is my reasoning why I think Jeremy Pruitt is the right man for the job.
Pruitt is one hell of a recruiter. In his first full year as a head coach of the Vols, they finished 13th nationally and seventh in the SEC. This class included guys like Darnell Wright, Wanya Morris, Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch. All four are currently starting every game. He also brought in Eric Gray, arguably the future of the Tennessee backfield.
In 2020, Pruitt got Tennessee to a 10th-ranked finish nationally and seventh in the SEC. This year, he has the Vols rank 10th nationally and fifth in the conference/ With a load of talent coming in, there’s signs that Pruitt is building something special on Rocky Top.
Let’s start with his experience as a defensive coordinator. When he was hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator in 2013, he led the Seminoles to the top-ranked scoring defense in the country and the third best defense overall.
From there, Pruitt would join the Georgia Bulldogs as a defensive coordinator, leading them to be one of the best defenses in the country. In his second year at Georgia, Pruitt’s defense would once again be a top-10 unit. The Bulldogs would also allow the fewest passing yards in the country.
He would then return to Tuscaloosa, where his defense would lead the country in almost every single defensive category, before becoming head coach of the University of Tennessee. His first year at Tennessee wasn’t good. Fans saw improvements every single game though, losing to Florida and Georgia was expected.
However, beating No. 21 Auburn on the Plains was not something Volfans expected in his first year as the head coach. Another surprise was when Tennessee beat No. 12 Kentucky in Neyland Stadium, 24-7. The Vols finished 5-7 on the year but, they had positives to look at. They beat two top-25 SEC opponents.
In 2019, the Vols’ first two games would be tragic. A loss to Georgia State and an overtime lost to BYU. The Vols would start their season 1-4, with their lone win coming against UT-Chattanooga. From there, Tennessee would lose one game on the rest of their schedule, finishing 8-5 in a win over Indiana in the Gator Bowl.
Pruitt’s seasons start rough, but as time goes on, it seems like the team progressively gets better.
Due to CoVid-19, Tennessee hasn’t had a chance to have all of their practices, any preseason camp and they have had barely any preparation. It’s hurt a lot of teams this year. The way I see it, the Vols are already doing better than they did last year to this point. Five games in and one more win.
The Vols thankfully have a bye-week this weekend, which should allow Pruitt to turn things around, get his backup quarterbacks more reps, as well as get the team squared away.
We may see Tennessee turn a corner after this bye week. Like they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.