Pruitt - (UA Photo)
From Alabama to Tallahassee.
Jeremy Pruitt has accepted the job as Florida State's defensive coordinator, Tomahawk Nation has learned.
Pruitt, 37, has been Alabama's defensive backs coach for the last two years -- his only two at the D1 level.
The hire is high risk, high reward.
Pruitt is a tremendous recruiter. He is young, connects well with kids, and owns lower Alabama and the Florida panhandle for the Crimson Tide. His track record as a recruiter is impeccable.
His track record as a coach, however, is another matter.
Pruitt played defensive back for Middle Tennessee and Alabama, and was a very good high school player. Most of his coaching experience is at the high school level, which he did for almost a decade until he was hired at Alabama in 2007.
Alabama picked him up as "director of player development," which isn't exactly a coaching position, but a position on staff that has some coaching-like duties. He was then promoted in 2010 to be Alabama's defensive back coach.
There are a couple of ways one can view the promotion.
One is that Saban has to trust Pruitt well enough to let him coach defensive backs.
Another view is that Saban is still very hands-on with the defensive backs, which are his specialty, as is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, and that Pruitt might be on Alabama's staff to be a recruiter more than anything.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Alabama's defenses have been great while Pruitt has been there, but also great before he arrived. And there is almost no way to separate the play of Alabama's defensive backs and attribute certain things to Pruitt and not Saban.
What is a fact, however is that Pruitt has no experience as a defensive coordinator at any level of college or pro football. He does have experience as a defensive coordinator at a very high level of high school football, but the amount of game planning and complexity of attack changes a bit in college.
The hire could very well make or break Jimbo Fisher's tenure as Florida State's head coach. Florida State's defensive coordinator position is one of the most attractive in the country, and countless coaches with better resumes would have jumped at the chance to take the job.
It's not uncommon for a head coach with a background on one side of the football to bring on a coordinator with little experience to coach on the same side of the football, as the head coach can mentor the new coordinator. It's considerably less common, however, for an offensive head coach (like Jimbo Fisher) to bring on a defensive coordinator with no experience.
It's worth noting that Jimbo Fisher is very much a Nick Saban disciple, and probably would not have made the hire without Saban's endorsement. And Alabama insiders say Pruitt would have been Alabama's defensive coordinator had current coordinator Kirby Smart left for a head coaching position this off-season.
In Pruitt, there is no doubt that Florida State has signed an excellent recruiter. The doubt remains, however, about his ability as a defensive coordinator, his preferred scheme, tendencies, and ability to put together a defensive coaching staff.
And if Pruitt fails, so too does Fisher, and the next coaching administration will take over a loaded roster. For perhaps the only certain thing known about Pruitt is his ability to recruit.