New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was introduced to the media on Thursday night. The still current Alabama defensive coordinator was fired up about where he is planning on taking this program. He laid out all of his plans in detail in the locker room of Neyland Stadium — and it was hard not to buy in to what he was saying.
“There was a time and place when Tennessee was feared among the SEC. My goal is to get us back to that point,” Pruitt started.
“We want to be a big, fast, dominating, aggressive, relentless football team that nobody in the SEC wants to play. How do we get there? It starts in recruiting. It started today with recruiting the student-athletes on this football team. These guys realize that we want to change the culture. They’re hungry, they’re excited. I met with the entire team and I’ve actually had to turn guys away because they’ve been waiting outside my door all day. These guys are ready to get started.”
Recruiting is the main plus of hiring Pruitt. His work on the trail during the past decade has helped lay the ground work for Alabama, Georgia and even Florida State for just one season. He’s already working on doing that at Tennessee.
“Recruiting is the lifeblood of any organization. We’re gonna start from Knoxville and work our way out. This is gonna be our state. We’re gonna go out and create relationships because that’s what it’s all about. This is still a people business. We’re gonna do it and we’re gonna start as soon as this meeting is over with.”
Simply reclaiming the state of Tennessee seems like an obvious answer, but it’s a task that needs to happen. The Vols lost out on big time in-state talent like Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers — that’s something that shouldn’t happen at Tennessee. Pruitt will be tasked with trying to get top talent like Cade Mays and Alontae Taylor to buy back into the Tennessee program.
Pruitt then addressed expectations on the field. “Your expectations aren’t near what mine are. My expectation is to win every game we play,” Pruitt said. “I’m a firm believer that our players will take on the personality of their football coach.”
He then laid out his offensive plan, which sounds a lot like Alabama’s. Everything starts up front for Pruitt.
“The first thing offensively — I feel like we’ve got to create balance. We want to be able to run the football when we want to run it. That starts with dominating the line of scrimmage. It’s no secret. If you want to be successful in this league, you’ve got to dominate up front. That’s mental and physical toughness. We want to create explosive plays in the pass game. That starts with being able to run the football.”
For me personally, my favorite part of the press conference was his defensive plan. Pruitt said, “We want to create an aggressive style of defense where we dictate what the offense does. We’re not gonna sit back on our heels, we’re not gonna play off wide receivers, we’re gonna walk up at the line of scrimmage and challenge. Every inch that the other team gets is gonna be challenged.”
How can you not buy in after hearing that? Obviously this is just all talk at this point, but I heard a guy that was more than ready to get to work. He’s rough around the edges. He’s not polished. He fumbled some words. But you saw the passion and the energy. You saw the detailed plan. You believed that plan — at least I did.
Putting that plan into action is a different story, but Tennessee fans have to be excited about the new man in charge.
“Let’s get ready to go get what we want,” Pruitt finished.