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Recruiting, Defense the name of the game for Jeremy Pruitt

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Let’s learn about Tennessee’s new (potential) head coach.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time when I thought Tennessee was going to hire someone with head coaching experience, no matter what. Former Tennessee AD John Currie seemed adamant on that, talking to Greg Schiano, Mike Gundy, Jeff Brohm, Dave Doeren and Mike Leach.

New AD Phillip Fulmer took a very different approach, taking mainly to three SEC defensive coordinators. Fulmer prioritized defense and southern recruiting ties over everything. That much was clear.

They simply don’t come much higher regarded in those two categories than Jeremy Pruitt — who Tennessee is expected to hire per multiple reports. If you are wondering how big of a deal Pruitt is to Alabama recruiting, read this from SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner.

If Pruitt did end up leaving, it would affect the Tide on the recruiting trail. Pruitt is one of the top recruiters in the country. He won the 2012 247Sports Recruiter of the Year award and has recruited players such as Derrick Henry, Jalen Ramsey, Ryan Anderson, T.J. Yeldon and Dylan Moses over the years. In my two-plus years covering Alabama recruiting, I’ve heard nothing but positives from players about their love for Pruitt. I know he has a reputation for being a tough guy, but players seem to universally love playing for him.

Rush Propst, Pruitt’s former boss at Hoover High School, has high praise for Tennessee’s new head coach. He told SEC Country that Pruitt “has the it factor.”

“I told Coach [Nick] Saban when he hired him that recruiting was going to be one of his best attributes,” Propst said. “His two biggest attributes are his ability to recruit and the ability to adjust to things [offenses] are doing to him. Those are things he could do better than most people I’ve been around. Jeremy, in a ball game, where things may not be going his way, he can make adjustments as good as anyone.”

Pruitt will have to prove that he can bring elite talent to Tennessee. While I don’t think that will be a problem, it’s worth pointing out that Tennessee is a couple notches below Alabama, Georgia and Florida in terms of high school talent.

That’s going to be an adjustment for Pruitt, but he’s proven at his last three stops that he’s more than capable of adjusting to his surroundings. I’d expect those big time southern ties to pay off in the long run for the Vols.

It’s going to be fascinating to watch him try to piece this 2018 class back together.