Jeremy Pruitt follows father’s footsteps into head coaching ranks

RAINESVILLE, Ala.-  Dale Pruitt was in bed on Wednesday night when he got the phone call from his son, Jeremy. The Alabama defensive coordinator was closing in on a deal to become the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.

But long before Jeremy Pruitt made it to Rocky Top, he was just a kid from Rainsville, Alabama.

"He grew up as a little kid wanting to wear uniforms, the whole nine yards all that kind of stuff and he played  every sport you could play," says Albertville head coach Dale Pruitt. "As he got older it was almost like matter of fact I'm going to be a coach."

Dale is a legendary high school head football coach in the state of Alabama. Throughout his career, he's coached at Plainview, Fort Payne, Pisgah and is currently at Albertville High School. When Jeremy was young, he would tag along to the field with dad.

"I was a lot younger at that time so we kinda grew up together. He could come to the field house and because he was in the  field house he would watch films with me, help me do whatever, if I was washing clothes or whatever," says Dale Pruitt. "That's something he did pretty much his whole life."

Jeremy was a two-time all-state defensive back at Plainview in the 1990's. He went on to play college ball at Middle Tennessee State before transferring to the University of Alabama. He was talented physically but also had a mind for X's and O's.

" always came easy for him. The mental part of the game came easy for him as a player," Dale Pruitt recalls. "We talked even as a player, we'd talk about stuff and he saw things very easily. He could even make suggestions when he was younger. I remember when he transferred from Middle Tennessee to Alabama and at the time, coach (Bill) Oliver was the defensive coordinator. The first spring he was there coach Oliver made a quote in a magazine and said Jeremy Pruitt has a mind like a steal trap. You tell him something once and he knows it. That about sums him up."

After years of following in his father's footsteps and serving as an assistant on staffs around the country, Jeremy is now the leading man for the Vols.

"No one knows when the perfect time is. This is his opportunity though and you make the best of your opportunities when they come," Dale Pruitt says. "Now his opportunity is here so he has to make the best of it. There are a lot of variables out there so you just hope for the best. As a parent you keep them in your prayers and hope things work well."

From one Pruitt to another, Dale does have some advice for the newest head coach in the family: "As a dad, don't forget you have little ones at home. As a professional and coach, don't forget you have Phillip Fulmer right down the hall."