Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with how Jeremy Pruitt’s potential departure would affect Alabama.
Jeremy Pruitt interviews for Mississippi State job
Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt reportedly has interviewed for the Mississippi State job, and according to Will Sammon of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Pruitt is a top target for the opening left by Dan Mullen taking the Florida job.
SEC Country was told by a source close to the Alabama program that Pruitt was busy recruiting for the Tide on Monday in the Atlanta area. One of Pruitt’s stops was at Newton High School to see Clemson defensive tackle commit Darnell Jefferies. Alabama had lots of interest in Jefferies before he committed to the Tigers. Pruitt also stopped by Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, to see Ohio State defensive tackle commit Antwuan Jackson.
Just because he’s out on the road recruiting doesn’t mean he isn’t going to leave for another job. From talking with people close to Pruitt over the past year, I know he wants the opportunity to run his own program as a head coach. He believes he’s ready for the chance.
If Pruitt did end up leaving, it would affect the Tide on the recruiting trail. Pruitt is one of the top recruiters in the country. He won the 2012 247Sports Recruiter of the Year award and has recruited players such as Derrick Henry, Jalen Ramsey, Ryan Anderson, TJ Yeldon and Dylan Moses over the years. In my two-plus years covering Alabama recruiting, I’ve heard nothing but positives from players about their love for Pruitt. I know he has a reputation for being a tough guy, but players seem to universally love playing for him.
Auburn cornerback commit Christian Tutt credits Pruitt for being the college coach who really put him on the map. He told me this on Pruitt earlier this year:
“My relationship with Coach Pruitt is one of the strongest relationships with any coach that I have,” Tutt said. “We talk all of the time. He really got things started for me, and I appreciate him for that.”
This year, Pruitt is the primary recruiter for Alabama cornerback commit Jalyn Armour-Davis. Pruitt’s recruiting efforts almost single-handedly helped the Tide land his commitment. Before he chose the Tide, Armour-Davis didn’t have Alabama as one of his top 6 schools. That changed in a little more than a month. Armour-Davis told SEC Country that Pruitt broke down the Tide’s depth chart in the secondary for next season and made sure he knew the in-state talent was one of the team’s top overall targets this year. Pruitt staying on top of Armour-Davis helped Alabama land his commitment.
SEC Country was told by a source close to Walker’s recruitment that if Pruitt did leave for a different job, the 4-star Under Armour All-American would likely reopen his recruitment. Walker and Pruitt don’t have a strong relationship; the source said that Walker specifically wants to be coached by Pruitt at Alabama because that’s how highly he thinks of him as a teacher.
As for Jackson, the 3-star prospect from Texas wasn’t in my most recent mock signing class. Jackson plays quarterback and free safety for his high school team but is a workout freak. He squats 600 pounds. Alabama likes his potential, but with there being so many linebacker targets in this class, it’s possible he just ends up seeing his spot taken. Jackson has continued to visit other schools and is expected to visit Texas A&M on Dec. 8.
What may be the most interesting information I received on Monday night was from 4-star cornerback Josh Jobe, who is committed to Miami but is a strong flip candidate for Alabama. Jobe talks with the Tide staff about every single day.
I asked him if Pruitt left, because it appears that he is a top target to be the next Mississippi State coach, how it would affect his recruitment. Here’s what Jobe had to say:
“It doesn’t matter,” Jobe told SEC Country. “He’s not leaving. One-hundred percent, he’s not leaving.”
I asked him if he knew that as a fact, and he said that he did. Jobe didn’t reveal any more details than that. Recruits are told misinformation all of the time, so I wouldn’t read too much into that, but it definitely makes this situation interesting.
I couldn’t get in touch with 4-star linebacker JJ Peterson, which isn’t that big of a surprise. I don’t know any recruiting reporter who has actually talked with Peterson over the phone. But, and I’m just speculating here, if Pruitt left that would be a blow to the Tide’s chances of landing the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker. Peterson is coached at Colquitt County by legendary high school football coach Rush Propst. For those who don’t know, Pruitt was Propst’s defensive coordinator when they both were at Hoover (Ala.) High School. The two remain very close friends.
Peterson told me last week that he talks to Pruitt about every other day. Propst said other schools have started to stop recruiting him because they believe he’s about the closest thing you can get to a lock in recruiting, meaning those schools believe he’s going to choose Alabama. If Pruitt leaves, you should expect those schools to once again turn the heat up on Peterson.
There’s no doubt that if Alabama lost Pruitt, just like losing Kirby Smart to Georgia, it will have a big effect on Tide recruiting in this class and for future classes to come.
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