Pruitt says Memphis prep football best in state, more from caravan stop
The Big Orange Caravan made it's stop in Memphis Tuesday night, and for Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt, the Bluff City is an important one in his mind when it comes to recruiting.
In fact, Pruitt said you can argue that Memphis high school football is the best in the state
“Especially in the state of Tennessee, I think probably the best high school football is in the city of Memphis. The coaches here do a fantastic job. There's lots of talent,” Pruitt said.
“It's obviously competitive when it comes to recruiting. There are several SEC schools within the vacinity. There's always been a lot of talent that has come out of here.”
Pruitt quickly signed a couple of Memphis area kids in 2018 in running back Jeremy Banks and offensive lineman Jerome Carvin, who are both from Cordova High. Pruitt said it was too early to comment on Banks, who will arrive the end of the month. As for Carvin, Pruitt likes the early returns.
“I see a guy who works really hard,” Pruitt said. “He's got a great work ethic. He improved as camp went. He worked at both offensive tackle and guard. He's a really good competitor. He has some power in his body. He will have an opportunity.”
Pruitt said nothing has changed in terms of Jauan Jennings status and that nothing would anytime soon. For now, Pruitt's focus for his team is on finding and developing some leadership.
“The first thing is we have lots of different guys on our team. We have guys who got to participate in all 15 days of our spring practice. We gave them things we want them to work on in the month of May, June and July to get prepared for fall camp. We have some guys that got to particiapate some in spring due to injury. They have to get healthy, which most of them are now. There's probably not as much film or experience with those guys to give them things they need to work on. So there's some unknown there. Then there are our guys who are signees that are coming in. You never know how they are going to be when they get on campus. Obviously, they have talent or we wouldn't have recruited them. But it's their first time away from home and they have to figure it out. So you have all those different moving parts. Somewhere in there we have to become a team which is a very important deal. We have to develop leadership. We have to find guys who have influence and put them in a leadership role.”
PRUITT WARMING UP THE THE SPEAKING CIRCUIT
There plenty of things you learn when you are a first-time head football coach. Things from simply not getting to be on the road recruiting in the spring, to the demands on your time for non-football obligations such as speaking engagements like the caravan. Pruitt said it's a nice break from the routine.
“It's better than sitting in the office all day. It gives me a chance to break up the day. We spend most of our time kind of running homebase for recruiting, watching tape and working on opponents, planning summer schedules and fall camp. All the way to pre game meals and travel, so it's good to get out and get a chance to meet people. There are a lot of folks who have great passion for Tennessee football and the University so it's good to meet as many people as we can. At the end of the day this is still a people business so as much personal contact as you can have with the people that love Tennessee the better off we probably are.”
Athletic director Phillip Fulmer said that Pruitt's head coaching adjustment has been smooth overall and that the public appearance obligations are way down his head coaches priority list.
“Coach Pruitt has been through not just a fast rise in the ranks from coordinator to head coach. He's done all the jobs. He's been the recruiting coordinator. He's been in charge of the academic side of it. He's done all the jobs that as a head coach you have to see the big picture of. That's one of the reasons, I thought he would be a great choice for us. The gladhanding. The getting out there seeing the boosters and those things. It's an important part of it, but it's not the most important. Him managing his team, his staff and his program is the key. We have plenty of people to do the media and the other stuff. Although that is important for him. On the scale that's down a ways right now. But he does fine. He has no shortcoming with that.”
NO TENNESSEE-MEMPHIS FOOTBALL MATCH UP ON THE HORIZON
Tennessee and Memphis are renewing their basketball rivalry with a home-and-home series as well, as a netural site game in Nashville. However, don't look for any football showdowns soon. Pruitt said it's a topic that's not been discussed. Fulmer said the topic was worth discussing but indicated it's not much of a priority right now.
“I'm 5 and a half months into this right now,” Fulmer said. “I pretty much know where my office and parking space is. We will certainly discuss that as we move forward I'm sure.”
“I think it was make sense to have the conversation.”