Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Jeremy Pruitt helped save Alabama but now he's off to Tennessee

Jeremy Pruitt helped save Alabama but now he's off to Tennessee

The groundwork has been laid for talented receiver Jauan Jennings to return to the Tennessee football team, but new Vols' coach Jeremy Pruitt made it clear no decision has been made at this time. For instance, Pruitt and Sherrer played together at Alabama.

None of that matters to the 43-year-old Pruitt these days, however.

"I'm going to Tennessee and it's not because of (new head coach Jeremy) Pruitt, (Kevin) Sherrer or the coach who's coming from Florida State (Charles Kelly)", Peterson told USA Today. He took the helm of the Volunteers program after cementing himself as the nation's top defensive coordinator during stints at Alabama (2016-17), Georgia (2014-15) and Florida State (2013). The fourth Alabama coordinator in three years to leave Alabama, Pruitt became the enemy of both the Crimson Tide and Georgia the moment the national championship game ended.

That started with the Vols' current roster. "That's one of the things that, over the years, has kind of helped contribute to the success that I've had is the players and getting heavily involved with them".

"Now mix in a signing date while you're practicing at another place, that's unfathomable and I think he's done a tremendous job of that and he's done it the right way, which that's what we do as coaches".

"Some of the guys still hit me up from Georgia", Pruitt said. "They always are at the first meeting". So, it was an easy transition for them to continue to implement the same thing for the players.

The past two days couldn't have gotten much better, though, in the eyes of the first-time head coach.

A dead period in college football recruiting ends today, which will allow Tennessee's staff to spend more time recruiting ahead of the traditional signing period that begins February 7.

"You kind of have your plan that you do each week, and then you have time you allot for recruiting", Pruitt said.

Pruitt said out of the 14 players Tennessee signed in the early signing period, seven are already on campus. "We have to focus on what we have to do to beat them and not worry about Coach Pruitt, but I've got a lot of love for Coach Pruitt". "I think when you look at our staff, that's what we've gotten".

Pruitt said even while he was working with Alabama during the College Football Playoff, assistants in Knoxville were sending him video of high school prospects and that Pruitt was approving scholarship offers for players. Despite only being hired on December 7 and splitting time between Knoxville and Tuscaloosa ever since, Pruitt and his staff added 13 signees for the Volunteers.

With Sherrer in a similar situation and fulfilling his obligation to Georgia, Pruitt and Sherrer spent long nights on the phone as their teams prepared to face each other in Monday night's title game.

Pruitt reiterated Wednesday that he stayed with Alabama through the national championship game out of a sense of obligation to his players there.

It wasn't awkward, Pruitt said, because they were talking about Tennessee business and not their upcoming matchup against each other.

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