Jeremy Pruitt’s ability to add talent to a struggling football program has been well-documented since his arrival in Knoxville. We’re not just talking about the traditional recruiting trail, either.
Tennessee added a really strong recruiting class in 2019, which included two elite prospects along with a handful of blue-chippers. But Pruitt was also able to add former big time recruits Aubrey Solomon and Deangelo Gibbs into the equation over the winter — two guys that Pruitt knew from the recruiting trail in years previous.
He’s still awaiting word from the NCAA about their status for the upcoming season, but for the time being, each are getting familiar with the Tennessee system on the practice field.
For Gibbs, who was a safety at Georgia, his transition to Tennessee has involved as position change. He began spring ball at receiver for the Vols, a position where he thrived at the high school level. Rumors out of camp suggest that Gibbs may have found a longterm home at the position, but he flipped to the defensive side for Tennessee today.
“Deangelo, that was kind of the plan when he got here,” Pruitt said after Tuesday’s practice. “To let him practice nine days on one side of the ball at wide receiver. He’s done a really good job. I remember recruiting him out of high school. Everybody recruited him as an athlete. He could play either side of the ball.”
The 6-1, 209 pound junior had some truly special high school tape at the receiver position, but played safety during his time at Georgia. Frustrated with his playing time, Gibbs decided to transfer after the 2018 season. Tennessee was a natural destination, thanks to the presence of his cousin Nigel Warrior.
After what seemed to be a very successful first few days on offense, Gibbs made the planned transition back to the defensive side today.
“The offensive coaches were very reluctant to have him practicing on defense,” Pruitt said. “I think for us it just gives us an idea moving forward to say, okay this is your best position potential wise. So he’s doing that. Our defense is probably similar verbiage wise to Georgia’s, so it was a pretty easy transition for him.”
With Gibbs now getting an official look on defense, it will be interesting to see where he lands full time. At least for now, it sounds like he’s made quite the first impression on the offensive coaches.
Tennessee is still waiting on word from the NCAA on both he and Solomon — two key players that could instantly make massive impacts on the field.