Hoover to Rocky Top: Jeremy Pruitt

Hoover to Rocky Top: Jeremy Pruitt

Football

Hoover to Rocky Top: Jeremy Pruitt

“When I first walked in and they were all together, it was like a flashback – I felt like I was back at Hoover High. You had Jeremy’s office, you had Myra’s, then Brandon’s, Todd’s, Kevin’s all right there. It was the whole Hoover deal which makes me proud and they all deserve it. Every single one of them deserve to be where they are because of what they have done. They have all been successful in so many different ways. Hoover was just part of that chapter, it wasn’t the final chapter.” — Rush Propst

Part 1 Hoover to Rocky Top: Myra Miles
Part 2 Hoover to Rocky Top: Brandon Sheppard
Part 3 Hoover to Rocky Top: Todd Watson
Part 4 Hoover to Rocky Top: Kevin Sherrer

KNOXVILLE — As the 2018 season approaches with the Vols taking the practice field August 3, kicking off fall training camp, Vols Wire takes a look at the former Hoover High School coaches and staff that are now at Tennessee for the Jeremy Pruitt era – Jeremy Pruitt, Kevin Sherrer, Todd Watson, Brandon Sheppard and Myra Miles. Danny Stiff is also on staff at UT as Assistant Director of Player Personnel and played at Hoover, winning three state championships from 2002-04.

The fifth part of the Hoover to Rocky Top series features Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt was hired on December 7, 2017, as Tennessee’s head coach.

Pruitt’s success on staff at Alabama, Florida State and Georgia is well documented by winning five national championships.

Before Pruitt had an off-field opportunity at Alabama in 2007, his career took off by being defensive coordinator and defensive backs (2004-06) coach at Hoover High School under head coach Rush Propst. During Pruitt’s Hoover tenure, the Bucs won two state championships and were featured on MTV’s reality show Two-A-Days.

Here is the story of how Pruitt was hired by Propst at Hoover, which is further detailed in the book Fulmer Hires Pruitt.

Following the 2003 season, Pruitt pursued getting on staff at Hoover after spending three seasons coaching with his Dad at Fort Payne High School.

Hoover was one of the nation’s most successful high school programs under Propst and Pruitt wanted part of it.

Pruitt did not let up on a chance to coach at Hoover. There were many calls and messages that went unreturned to Propst, but in the end Propst could not turn away Pruitt’s knowledge of the game to better his coaching staff.

“In 2004 I had a lot of people leave,” Propst said in the book Fulmer Hires Pruitt. “We started putting the staff together for 2004 and going into the season, I had one spot after I moved David Faulkner to offense and help me call plays. So, I was looking for a defensive guy.”

Propst had a defensive coach picked out, but that changed when Pruitt sat down for an interview and provided his knowledge of the game.

“I had a defensive guy picked out and me and Todd (Watson) interviewed him, brought him in and he was the guy that we wanted to hire,” Propst said. “At the time, Jeremy Pruitt was not in the picture. I didn’t really know Jeremy that well, I knew his Dad really well, but I have heard of Jeremy from a player perspective and I knew he was coaching with his Dad.

“Jeremy started wearing my phone out, calling me three or four times a day. It’s just like anytime you’re coaching at Hoover or at Colquitt County where I’m at now, you’re going to get a hundred calls a day, 200 emails a day, hundreds of texts a day. So, Jeremy started calling my home phone and my wife told me this guy named Jeremy Pruitt keeps calling you.”

Propst was not a stranger of sitting down with coaches he had interest in and Pruitt was one.

“I already had a coach figured out, but I called Jeremy and I told him I already had this coaching spot pretty much wrapped up and maybe I’ll have something down the road,” Propst said. “He asked if he could just come in and interview and I said yeah because I have interviewed guys millions of times because when a spot comes open down the road you have already interviewed them, and if you like them and have an opening then you got him.

“I brought Jeremy in and interviewed him and the other guy had already taken the (Hoover) job for a day and that was the weird thing about it. Todd and I were 30 minutes into the interview with Jeremy in the defensive office and Todd’s asking all of the defensive questions and I’m listening as a head coach. I went through the general stuff during the first five minutes, but the nuts and bolts of what you hire a football coach is not on philosophy it’s on how you can teach kids and how you can coach kids. That’s the bottom-line”

The interview went on with Todd Watson asking more questions about the first day with defensive backs and so forth and after 15-20 minutes, Propst looked at Watson and Watson looked at Propst.

“I’m thinking I do not need to hear anymore,” Propst said. “I got up and I told them when you get finished up bring Jeremy back to me in the head coaches office or the offensive office.

“They probably went another 30 minutes and Todd brought him to me and I told Jeremy that I already offered the job to somebody, but you are by far the best candidate without question. I told him to give me a day, a half-a-day, he asked ‘when do I need to call you’ and I said this afternoon about 5 o’clock.”

Pruitt left the Hoover offices around 10:30 that morning and as soon as he left, Watson walked into Propst’s office and asked “what are you going to do now, I’m going to learn something from the head ball coach right here.”

Propst had already told the other coach that it was their job and that coach had already told his team that he was leaving that morning.

“I thought he was going to do it the next day,” Propst said of the other coach that he offered the job to. “Jeremy had no idea about this, I sort of mentioned that I had already offered the job and he didn’t know who and that he told his team that he was leaving, and I really didn’t know it to start with.

“I had gotten word during the interview process that he had told his team. I told Todd that I was going to call the high school where he was at and talk to the superintendent and tell them I screwed up. So I made the call and said I made a mistake and he was not real happy with me, but it all worked out and he didn’t lose his job. I felt bad about the situation, but it’s also part of the business in hiring the best people and it was clear to me Jeremy was one of the best coaches.”

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