For Jeremy Pruitt, this is typically a time where he’s putting the finishing touches on a recruiting class. This year, he’s simply trying to keep his roster together.
Per a report from Austin Price of VolQuest, Pruitt and pretty much the entire defensive braintrust are headed west today in hopes of keeping Henry To’o To’o in Knoxville. Apparently the stud linebacker is weighing his options — and who can blame him?
To’o To’o, one of Pruitt’s biggest gets so far at Tennessee, is far and away the best player on the defense. He’s manned the middle of Pruitt’s defense now for two seasons, clearly with an NFL future ahead.
Tennessee has seen several starters or big contributors to the transfer portal so far this season. Deandre Johnson, Jarrett Guarantano, JT Shrout, Baylen Buchanan, Brandon Johnson, Wanya Morris and Ty Chandler have been the most recent names to enter the portal.
Needless to say, should To’o To’o enter, it would clearly be the biggest blow to date.
Why is everyone leaving? An internal investigation into the football staff’s recruiting is still ongoing, and no official announcement on Jeremy Pruitt’s status as the head coach has been made. This began with a report at the end of the season, and still has yet to be wrapped up. The result? A reported hiring freeze — which seems to now be over with the Kevin Steele announcement — and several transfers.
So Pruitt is now forced to recruit his own players back to Knoxville. That’s a tough job coming off of a 3-7 season heading into what would seem to be a lame duck 2021 season. Why not fire him now? Well, Tennessee extended Pruitt before the season, jacking his buyout number up over $12.8 million. Tennessee was seemingly attempting to fire him with cause as this investigation played out, now it seems likely he will return.
Whatever the plan was, an official announcement needs to be made as soon as possible. If it’s Pruitt in 2021, fine. But let’s get everyone pulling in the same direction again and attempt to stop some bleeding.