Coming Home–Coach Jeremy Pruitt returns to the Heart of Dixie
December 18, 2015
Southern Torch (3399 articles)

Coming Home–Coach Jeremy Pruitt returns to the Heart of Dixie

By Joseph M. Morgan

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— Following the complex shakeup, departure and redeployment of some of the biggest names in SEC coaching, a DeKalb County native is officially coming home. Last week, University of Alabama head football Coach Nick Saban announced that Plainview High School alum Coach Jeremy Pruitt had been hired as Alabama’s new defensive coordinator.

Pruitt  joins the Alabama staff after spending the past two seasons as defensive coordinator/secondary coach at the University of Georgia. Less than 24 hours after a victory over Georgia Tech capped a 9-3 regular season, UGA dumped 15-year veteran head Coach Mark Richt. Soon thereafter, Richt announced that he would be taking the head coaching job at University of Miami.

After UA’s victory over Florida in the SEC Championship, Alabama’s defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, announced that he would be leaving the Tide to take the open head coaching position at UGA—like Pruitt and Richt, returning to his alma mater. Smart played at Georgia in the 1990s and has been Saban’s defensive coordinator at Alabama since 2008. The new coach was widely regarded as one of the top assistants in the country, with Alabama perennially ranking among the top defensive teams in the country. And last week UA announced that Smart’s position at Bama would be filled by UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Pruitt, who played two seasons with the Crimson Tide under former Coach Gene Stallings and served as an assistant on the Alabama coaching staff for six seasons, said he is excited to be returning to his alma mater.

“This is a special opportunity for me to come back to the University of Alabama,” Pruitt said. “Growing up in the state and having played and coached here, I have a great appreciation for Alabama football. Coach Saban’s success speaks for itself and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the chance he gave me to join his staff back in 2007. We are excited to get back to Tuscaloosa and be a part of one of the outstanding programs in college athletics.”

Alabama Coach Nick Saban was highly complimentary of Pruitt when discussing the hire. “We are excited to announce that Jeremy Pruitt has rejoined our staff at Alabama as defensive coordinator,” Saban said. “He did an outstanding job in the six years he was with us and did the same at Florida State and Georgia after that. Jeremy is obviously an excellent defensive coach, and also does a great job in terms of recruiting and developing relationships with players. We’re pleased and happy to have Jeremy and his family back in Tuscaloosa.”

Prior to his time at UGA, Pruitt served on the Crimson Tide staff from 2007-2012. In his role as a Bama assistant coach, Pruitt mentored several notable Crimson Tide stars including safety Mark Barron and cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie and Dee Milliner. Pruitt originally joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007.

Pruitt’s 2015 Georgia defense currently ranks eighth nationally in total defense, allowing 298.0 yards per game, leads the nation in passing yards allowed per game (146.1 ypg), ranks second nationally in red zone defense (.645), third nationally in first down defense (173), eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense (102.96) and is ninth nationally in scoring defense (16.9 ppg). In 2014, Pruitt’s Georgia defense ranked 17th nationally in total defense (337.2 ypg), fourth nationally in turnover margin (+1.23) and was fifth nationally in passing yards allowed (170.4 ypg).

Pruitt served as both defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Florida State in 2013 as part of a staff that led the Seminoles to an undefeated season and the 2013 national championship. That Seminole defense ended the season ranked first nationally in scoring defense (12.1 ppg), second in team passing efficiency defense (93.77), third in total defense (281.4 ypg), and was 18th in rushing defense (124.8 ypg).

From 2004-06, Pruitt enjoyed a successful stint as an assistant coach at Hoover (Ala.) High School. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A State Championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03. Pruitt began his coaching career as a student assistant coach at Alabama during the 1997 season, where he worked under defensive backs coach Curley Hallman. After one year on the UA staff, Pruitt joined his father’s staff at Plainview High School as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator in 1998 and 2000. He spent one season as defensive backs coach at the University of West Alabama, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1999.

During his collegiate career, Pruitt played at both Middle Tennessee and Alabama. He began his career at Middle Tennessee under legendary coach Boots Donnelly, where he was a two-year starter at safety and cornerback for the Blue Raiders. After his sophomore season, Pruitt transferred to Alabama where he played two seasons under Gene Stallings. As a junior, Pruitt played in nine games and recorded seven tackles. As a senior, Pruitt played in seven games as a backup defensive back and was a member of Alabama’s 1996 SEC Western Division Championship team that beat Michigan 17-13 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa. A two-time All-State defensive back, Pruitt helped Plainview High School to a 48-8 record during his four-year career. He earned All-State honors in both 1991 and 1992.

Perhaps legendary University of Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant summed it up best in 1958 when asked why he chose to leave a strong Texas A&M program that year to become the head coach of the Crimson Tide.

“I left because my school called me,” Bryant said. “Mama called, and when Mama calls, then you just have to come running.”

Like Bryant, when his school called, Jeremy Pruitt came running. And the people of DeKalb County could not be prouder.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch


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