Jeremy Pruitt has made clear the role of football in his life, with the sport and his time around the game and familial aspects of life on the gridiron key elements in his development.
So it registers as zero surprise that Pruitt tries daily to instill an element he takes from his father, well-regarded Alabama high school coach Dale Pruitt.
“Probably the biggest thing I took from my dad is how to treat people,” Pruitt recently told GN. “My dad had a unique way of getting players to play at their best. He always looked for the good in players, and not just players but the kids he taught in school. … When you’re in a community that he was in forever, there’s more to life than football. He realized that.”
Already, Pruitt is displaying a similar approach. Since his hiring in early December, Pruitt is establishing his program culture and wiping clean the slates of holdover players.
This includes wide receiver Jauan Jennings, already back in the mix and working out with the team for several weeks after being dismissed from the team in November by interim coach Brady Hoke.
Though not specifically discussing Jennings, who per Pruitt “is doing everything we’ve asked of him,” Pruitt shares his belief in the mandate to help young people.
“So (my father) tried to find the positives (in youth) and he always tried to save ’em,” Pruitt explained. “I say save ’em, I’m talking about keeping them on the right track. He didn’t give up on kids.
“I think you’ve got to do that, especially in high school. They’re so young and they develop and continue to grow and, heck, you never know who’s at home with them and what’s going on with them.”
One way Pruitt already is helping the Vols: He has them in the classroom at perhaps a record rate. Entering spring break – and perhaps in part because of Pruitt’s guidelines, which include 5 a.m. runs for tardiness and absences – Tennessee’s roughly 120-man roster (including walk-ons) shows just three (unexcused) absences this semester, Pruitt said.
(You can follow John Brice on Twitter @JohnDBrice1)
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