Jeremy Pruitt may be the new defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide, but he has plenty of experience in Tuscaloosa. He played defensive back from 1995 to 1996. He served as a graduate assistant for the program in 1997. More recently, he served as Director of Player Development from 2007 to 2009 and as Nick Saban’s defensive backs coach from 2010 to 2012.
Being part of the program is old news for Pruitt.
“I’m excited to be back,” Pruitt said. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories here. It’s very special to me. It’s easy to walk into a young man’s house and sell the University of Alabama.”
Pruitt served as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at first Florida State and then Georgia since he left Tuscaloosa, but he was part of the recruitment process for several players still on the roster. He feels that seeing familiar faces helps the adjustment of having to move again.
“Unfortunately in the business we do have to, there is transition. That’s the tough part,” Pruitt said. “But it was good to get back to see some of the old faces, the Ryan Andersons, the Dalvin Tomlinsons, Big Shank [Alphonse Taylor]. Just guys I had been involved in recruiting. It’s fun to be back in the building.”
The players he was involved in recruiting were equally excited for Pruitt’s return.
“I was happy [when I heard the news],” linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “It was a big part of me coming back [for my senior season]. He’s just a player’s coach.”
Pruitt has been on staff for some very skilled defenses at Alabama, but his focus is solely on the present and not the past.
“This is the 2016 defense. It’s not 2015, 2013, 2009, 2010. This is 2016. Our kids are buying into the fact that we’ve not done anything,” Pruitt said. “We’re trying to create our identity for this year’s team. Creating the right practice habits. The right mental toughness. Being relentless competitors.”
With a head coach like Nick Saban, who is known for his defensive knowledge, Pruitt’s arrival won’t bring any major changes to the defense. Pruitt even installed a very similar defense during his time at Florida State and Georgia. His presence will be felt on the defense- it just won’t be with sweeping changes.
“As a coach you have to take your little wrinkles that you’ve learned over time, and every year as a coach you’re looking to improve. To me that’s the one thing, that coach is so good with, is that he’s ok to change. Now, there has to be a reason for it,” Pruitt said. “Every year as a staff you’re doing quality control and you’re trying to find ways that you can make your defense better…I hope my thumbprint here is that we continue to have the same success that we’ve had.”
The defense has lost some key contributors from last year’s team, but also has a lot of experienced players returning. Players like safety Eddie Jackson, outside linebacker Tim Williams, and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen in particular are coming off of strong seasons. All three likely could have gone to the NFL, but all three came back for another season. Pruitt is excited about the pieces he has to work with, but keeps his focus on what they can do for him in the upcoming season.
“One thing that we keep stressing to these guys is nobody cares about what plays you made last year,” Pruitt said. “It’s all about this year. So we’re starting every day talking about one rep at a time. Get better one rep at a time.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports