Sleep was optional. Really, rest remains on Jeremy Pruitt’s back-burner.
He waited too long for this opportunity; too long to run his own show.
Plus, let’s be clear: Pruitt had just landed the University of Tennessee’s top job while he also embraced the task of preparing Alabama for an eventual, magical, final national championship run in charge of the Tide defense – his fifth title-winning stop-unit.
So once he landed in Knoxville on Dec. 7, 2017, to be introduced as this storied program’s 26th head coach, Pruitt didn’t find time for a nap until after he had welcomed in Tennessee’s first group of official visitors and continued his work inside the Anderson Training Center well into Saturday morning.
Remember, Pruitt had been introduced to Vol Nation alongside new athletics director Phillip Fulmer during a late-afternoon press conference Thursday of that week.
“It was crazy, the day of the press conference, full-time staff didn’t leave ‘til 4 a.m. the next day,” said a UT staffer. “…Love them. Great group of coaches and more importantly, actually REALLY good people. They are crazy hard workers though, those first couple days Pruitt literally didn’t sleep.”
Added another UT coach, “The first 40, 42 hours there, we didn’t sleep at all the night after the press conference. It was about 3 a.m. Friday night (Saturday morning). We’ve got to get (big-time) guys.”
During press conferences for the College Football Playoffs, Pruitt made clear his only hat on the recruiting trail was a ‘Power T.’
“What was interesting, (recently) we’re in a (Tide) staff meeting and they’re starting to set up calls for (Nick) Saban,” Pruitt said. “And they’re kind of going down the list, (defensive assistant) Tosh (Lupoi) is, he’s like, ‘We need to call this guy, this guy, this guy.’ And then he pauses and says, ‘We got a couple more that you need to call, Coach.’ And Coach Saban kind of looked at him, nobody said anything, and he goes, ‘Well, who?’
“And Tosh just kind of paused, and I said, ‘Tosh, do you need me to leave the room?’ So everybody kind of got a kick out of it, but we all recruit the same guys.”
That was evidenced that same sleepless opening weekend, when Pruitt ran point and his staffers immediately jetted around the country in the onset of a continued relentless effort to not merely salvage, but lift up the Vols’ 2018 signing class. Pruitt & Co. signed 13 players in the early period and have since trended upward for numerous national recruits – evidenced most recently by the commitment of the uber-talented J.J. Peterson.
“We’re going to recruit the same guys that Florida State does, that LSU does, that Auburn does,” Pruitt explained. “The thing about it is the guys on these staffs, we’re all friends, and there’s not going to be any recruit that gets in the way of our friendship. If we’re not recruiting the same guy that Alabama and Florida State and Auburn and Georgia’s recruiting, and Ohio State, then I think we’re probably recruiting the wrong guys.”
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