Tennessee football is well-positioned for the future under coach Josh Heupel – at least according to the coach Heupel replaced.
Jeremy Pruitt believes in Heupel’s Vols, so much so that he labeled Tennessee and Kentucky as his two breakout teams in the SEC for the 2022 season during a recent appearance on the “Crain & Company” podcast.
Tennessee fired Pruitt for cause in January 2021 amid the NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations, and the university did not pay Pruitt his buyout. Pruitt’s lawyer threatened a fiery lawsuit, but that never came. If Pruitt holds any ill will, he didn’t share that during his first public comments since his firing.
Pruitt, on the “Crain & Company” podcast, called coaching Tennessee “one of the best experiences of my life,” and he’s bullish on what the Vols may achieve in Year 2 under Heupel, with Hendon Hooker returning as its starting quarterback.
“I think they’ve done an outstanding job,” Pruitt said on “Crain & Company.”
“I think they’re building something there, especially on offense. If you can score as many points as they can, you’re dangerous every week.”
On this edition of “The Volunteer State,” Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel’s John Adams Pruitt’s review and debate whether Pruitt might be a better analyst than he was a coach.
Pruitt apparently knows a good offense when he sees it at Tennessee, even though building a successful offense and developing quarterbacks was a persistent bugaboo throughout his tenure.
The Vols were 16-19 under Pruitt and regularly got blown out by rivals. Pruitt spent last season on the New York Giants coaching staff, but he was not retained after coach Joe Judge was fired in January.
But, Toppmeyer says, Pruitt moved the needle, for better or worse, and he might make for a decent media analyst. Toppmeyer says he’d listen to a “Jeremy Pruitt Hour” podcast, a’ight?
Adams, however, wants nothing to do with Pruitt as an analyst, considering his persistent struggles with grammar.
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They also disagree about Pruitt’s future in college football.
Toppmeyer says that if the NCAA goes easy on Pruitt, he could envision the former coach back on the sideline as a defensive coordinator at a Power Five school. Keep Pruitt away from the offense and don’t let him have any CEO responsibilities, Toppmeyer says, but if he’s solely focused on defense, he’ll prove he’s still capable.
Adams disagrees, saying Pruitt’s Vols tenure exposed that he’s no defensive guru.
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Blake Toppmeyer is the SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John Adams is a senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. If you enjoy their coverageconsider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Also, you can subscribe to The Volunteer State podcast for free so you won’t miss an episode, or check out SEC Football Unfilteredanother podcast from Toppmeyer and Adams.