Jeremy Pruitt (born May 28, 1974) is the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team. He previously served as the defensive coordinator at Alabama (2016–2017), Georgia (2014–2015), and Florida State (2013). As a defensive coordinator, Pruitt’s defenses frequently ranked in the top ten nationally in total defense and related categories. Pruitt worked for Alabama as Director of Player Development (2007–2009) before becoming the Crimson Tide’s defensive backs coach in 2010. Prior to joining the college ranks, he served as an assistant coach at the high school level. Pruitt was a 2013 finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top college football assistant coach, and was again a finalist in 2016. He played college football at Middle Tennessee and Alabama.
Early life and playing career
Pruitt was born in Rainsville, Alabama, the son of Dale and Melissa Pruitt. His father is a long-time high school head coach, with stints at Pisgah (1982–1983), Plainview (1984–2000, 2006–2014), Ft. Payne (2001–2003), Marion County (in Tennessee, 2004–2005), and Albertville (2015–present). Jeremy played for his father at Plainview, where he was named all-state in 1991 and 1992, and helped the team achieve a 48-8 record.
Pruitt began his college football career at Middle Tennessee State under Hall of Fame head coach Boots Donnelly. He was recruited as a quarterback, but switched to defensive back during his freshman season. After his sophomore year, he transferred to the University of Alabama, where he played under coach Gene Stallings. He saw action in nine games during his junior season as a member of the 1995 Alabama squad, and seven games during his senior season as a member of the Outback Bowl-winning 1996 squad. As a player, Pruitt helped mentor All-American teammate Kevin Jackson in defensive coordinator Bill Oliver‘s complex schemes.
Assistant coaching career
Pruitt began coaching as a student assistant on the 1997 Alabama team, where he worked primarily under defensive backs coach Curley Hallman. He then worked as an assistant coach under his father at Plainview High School (1998 and 2000) and Fort Payne (2001–2003). He coached defensive backs in 1999 at West Alabama, where he earned his degree. He served as an assistant coach under Rush Propst at Hoover High School from 2004 to 2006, winning state championships in 2004 and 2005. While at Hoover, he appeared on the MTV reality television show, Two-A-Days, which focused on the lives of students at Hoover.
In 2007, Pruitt joined the Alabama coaching staff as Director of Player Development. Following Alabama’s 2009 national championship season, Pruitt was named the Tide’s defensive backs coach. During his first season in 2010, Alabama’s secondary led the SEC in passing efficiency, and included one All-American, Mark Barron. The 2011 Alabama secondary led the nation in pass defense and passing efficiency, and included three All-Americans, Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, and DeQuan Menzie. Both Barron and Kirkpatrick were drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Pruitt’s 2012 secondary ranked seventh nationally in pass defense, and included Jim Thorpe finalist Dee Milliner. He was named National Recruiter of the Year in 2012 by 247Sports.
In 2013, Pruitt was hired as the defensive coordinator at Florida State. In his lone season with the Seminoles, his defense ranked number one in scoring defense, allowing just 12.1 points per game, and ranked third in total defense, helping the 2013 Seminoles win the national championship.
In 2014, Pruitt joined the Georgia coaching staff as the defensive coordinator. His 2014 defensive unit finished 17th nationally in total defense, and finished in the top ten in turnover margin and passing yards allowed. Pruitt’s 2015 unit at Georgia finished the season ranked seventh nationally in total defense, and led the nation in fewest passing yards allowed per game.
Pruitt returned to Alabama as defensive coordinator in 2016, replacing Kirby Smart, who had left to become the head coach at Georgia. His 2016 defensive unit led the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense, and was ranked second in total defense. His 2017 Alabama defensive unit finished the regular season ranked second in total defense and first in scoring defense. The unit was part of the team that won the National Championship in the 2017 season.
In December 2017, Pruitt was hired as the head coach at the University of Tennessee, capping a tumultuous coaching search that followed the firing of head coach Butch Jones, and led to the replacement of athletic director John Currie by Hall of Fame coach Phillip Fulmer.
Pruitt has three sons, Jayse, Ridge, and Flynt, and is married to the former Casey East.