Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee
I’m not gonna’ lie, y’all. Pruitt almost put me in a coma. You won’t find a better hands-on, passionate teacher of the game wrapped up in such a dull package when he gets to the podium.
A few interesting things popped up, though. Namely, the Vols recruiting more for size; poaching OC Jim Chaney from Georgia, the promotion of former Alabama DBs coach Derrick Ansley to lead the Vols defense; the snake-bitten Brandon Kennedy; and more.
How important is Brandon Kennedy going to be to the offensive line and his health? I know you’re familiar with him having coached at Alabama. And second part of the question, when you decided to hire Derrick Ansley as your defensive coordinator, I know you coached with him at Alabama, what did you see in him that made you think that he’s going to have a chance to take your defense to the next level?
JEREMY PRUITT: Well, you know, the first part of it, Brandon Kennedy, Brandon is a guy that he started the first football game for us last year and unfortunately on Tuesday tore his ACL. And he’s had several years there where he’s unfortunately gotten hurt. Brandon’s a guy that’s worked extremely hard this offseason. We held him out of spring practice. He could have went during spring ball, but I felt like for him we needed to hold him out and make sure he’s completely well before we put him out on the field.
Brandon’s a leader in offensive line. Our players respect him. He’s a guy that graduated, you know, in three years, has two years to play. So, we’ll be happy to see him out there.
When you talk about Derrick Ansley, Derrick’s a guy that, you know, I’ve worked with. I know what you’re getting in him. And he’s a guy that I believe in. And he’s a great recruiter, really good teacher. He knows exactly what I want done.
On Jim Chaney (across multiple quotes, BTW)
I think if you look at Jim’s time at Georgia, you can look at his time at Tennessee, and really wherever he’s been he’s had a lot of success, and he’s done it a bunch of different ways.
I think it’s important in this league that you know who you’re going to go against. There’s some really, really good defensive minds in this league, and it helps to have experience against him. Jim understands the University of Tennessee. He coached there before. So when it comes to hiring an offensive coordinator, I couldn’t think of nobody else I’d rather hire than Jim Chaney.
We had an opportunity to get Jim Chaney this offseason. Jim’s a guy that, you know, he’s a very good communicator. He’s a great teacher. He’s a good evaluator. He works well with people. Having a chance just to listen to him talk to our coaches and our players, he’s very personable, really good teacher.
You know, he’s done it in the SEC a bunch of different ways, whether it was the last few years at Georgia where they ran the ball a lot, or at Tennessee before where they had a lot of balance, or even when he was at Purdue when they threw the ball 50 or 60 times. Jim’s a guy that figures out who his best players are and he finds a way to get him the ball. We’re excited to have him. I know he’s the guy that really helped me in the last six months, so I’m looking forward this season.
Pruitt also praised Fulmer and Tee Martin a bunch, and that frankly made me puke in the back of my mouth some.
Finally, he had an interesting take on the Quitter Hole, being a former transfer (though he steered clear of the fact that his staff has been a huge beneficiary of the league’s sloppy seconds and has been accused of player tampering):
Well, I have a unique view because I was a transfer myself. A lot of people say: Why did you transfer? I signed with Middle Tennessee. I played there for two years, was a starter. And I left, not because I was unhappy, just because I wanted to go fulfill a dream.
You know, these guys have tough decisions in making decisions where they are going to go to college, and sometimes they may not get it right. And to me it’s about the mental wellness of the student-athlete. And I think everybody that’s involved is definitely sensitive and really considers that, and I think that’s one of the things that we have to put to the forefront when it comes to kids that want to transfer. We need to help them find their way.
As far as the rules or whatnot, as far as eligibility, I don’t have enough information to really comment about that, but, you know, as a guy that has transferred before myself, it worked out well for me.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
Back in my misspent youth, I may have hung out with people who dabbled in an illicit substance a time or three — but I can honestly tell you that I’ve never been around someone who was “so high they spoke like Jimbo Fisher.”
It was tough getting these. Fortunately, Jimbo kept his monologue to a minimum and mainly just opened up for questions. And, really, why would he try to sell anyone: as he said, he’s in the middle of building a program. And, hey, he has nothing to sell — that’s a 10-year guaranteed job, suckers.
On resuming the Texas series:
Yeah, if it’s beneficial to Texas A&M. I know we’re scheduled out right now for ten years. If it’s something that benefits Texas A&M, we’ll definitely be interested in that and make those judgments as they come.
On playing the No. 1 (Clemson,) 2. Alabama, and 3. Georgia teams:
We don’t want to spoil anything. We want to take care of our own, and they are great teams. But we expect to play with them and compete with them and win those games. That’s why we’re here. We are not looking to spoil anything. We’re looking to win something and go about our business and do the things we have to do. They are great programs, but Texas A&M can be the same way.
Expect Jimbo to power the ball again this year, after Trayveon Williams led the SEC in rushing last season and returning a deep offensive line:
We have over double digit games coming back [OL starts, presumably]. We have a great group of young guys coming in [RBs, presumably]. I think Jashaun Corbin, behind him -- that young freshman last year we had, Jashaun Corbin. He’s a very talented guy. He can catch it, run with powers, speed, agility.
On Kellen Mond’s development:
Well, I think it is. But also you talk about innovation, we talk about plays, but also it’s decisions within a play. There’s a lot of things within a play that are accessible that guys aren’t ready for. You know, you give them the basic 1-2 read, but if there’s certain looks, can you run that same play and the look on the back side is better than what it is on the front side. Giving him availability to have the five available receivers being able to go to him at any time or a check that can get us in a run or get us in a right look or he sees a certain blitz to take a shot.
But also, you call the play, it’s one or two, but now if you do get these matchups, you may get one, two, three or four. And expanding -- like I say, you take Algebra 1. Algebra doesn’t change, but Algebra 2 gets more complicated. You just keep adding more to the formula as you go.
That’s where he’s getting to. He’s been really fun the way he -- he understands he has to be a student of the game, and I think that’s the most fun we have. He works his tail off. Nobody works any harder, but he also works in the film room, too. You know from the conversations you had with him, the questions he asked you, it’s starting to be really fun. He’s being able to use all of the resources around him.
The best that I can read into that word salad is that Mond is trying very hard, and working in the film room a ton, and the staff is trying to add more to his plate but that results may be uncertain for now. If you have a better interpretation, I’m open for it.
A lot of coaches gave lip service to the SEC’s mental health initiative. But, to Jimbo’s credit, he seems to be the one so far who really gets it:
It’s the biggest problem -- I said this ten years ago in a meeting one time in the ACC, and people said, well -- they kind of laughed. I said, listen, guys, mental health is a huge part of what’s going on right now. When you’re 18, 20 years old, the kids -- the things they’re facing is a hundred times greater than we ever did when we were coming up because of all y’all and the social media and the ability -- the accessibility and the expectations, it’s crazy what these kids go through, and it’s a shame sometimes.
My big thing on it, when do they ever get a break? When does a kid now ever get to be a kid? When is he allowed to make a mistake without somebody wanting to kick him out, throw him out, or whatever?
He is spot-on. That is why one of our rules around here is that we don’t **** on these kids earning a college degree playing a sport. Now, after they graduate and are pros? Feel free to go nuts. I’m not naming any
Mack Wilson names though.
Finally, Jimbo (like Pruitt) was also a college transfer. So, he gets why some people want to leave. But, he has a really good speech he gives kids who want to leave — and it ties into Kirby and Odom’s statements too — is the grass really greener?
It’s like my father always told me: If you’re changing or you’re leaving, tell me why; give me a good reason, not “because I feel like it.” And, two, what’s the plan on the other end?
See, the thing that scares me about all the things going on now, I don’t think a lot of guys always plan the other end of it out and have an idea where they’re going. I think if they do it for why am I going, is there a legit reason for leaving, and what’s the plan of where I’m going -- and I do with our players. I say, okay, if you’re leaving, I get it. Tell me why you’re leaving. Now, tell me what you want to do and what you’re trying to accomplish. If they can’t do that, I say, why don’t you go back and think about it.
Okay, that wraps up our Day Two coverage. We’ll be back tomorrow for Day Three. Feel free to checkout the other recap pieces today we did with Kirby Smart and Matt Luke, and the first one with SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw.
If you missed yesterday, which featured LSU’s Ed Orgeron and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, among others, it’s right here.