Former Crimson Tide secondary coach slated to take over one of the nation’s best defenses.
By Florida State Sports Information
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has tabbed Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt as the new defensive coordinator for the Seminoles. Pruitt becomes just the third defensive coordinator in the last 28 years at FSU and replaces Mark Stoops who was named head coach at the University of Kentucky.
“I’m very excited to add Jeremy to our staff,” Fisher said. “He brings a lot to the table. He’s one of the bright young coaches in college football. He’s done an outstanding job at Alabama and in the past as a great high school coach. He’s also a good recruiter, but most importantly of all, he’s a great person. I’m really looking forward to him coming to Florida State and helping us to continue achieving the success that we’ve had and will continue to have. We’re very fortunate to be adding him to our program.”
“This is a great opportunity for me to join another one of the top college football programs in the country and take over as defensive coordinator for one of the best defenses out there,” Pruitt said. “I really appreciate Coach Fisher and his staff in welcoming me to the Seminole family. I’ve enjoyed my time at Alabama and am grateful to Coach Saban and my Crimson Tide family for their support in preparing me as I begin the next chapter in my coaching career.”
Pruitt, 38, has spent the last three seasons directing one of the best defensive backfields in the country for one of the nation’s best defenses. Since Pruitt has coached the secondary at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has ranked in the top 10 in pass efficiency defense and top 15 in pass defense in all three seasons while also ranking in the top five in total defense and scoring defense. Pruitt also has been recognized as a tremendous recruiter. He was named as “National Recruiter of the Year” by 247Sports.com last year in helping Alabama land the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
“Jeremy did an outstanding job for us and the opportunity for him to become the defensive coordinator at Florida State is well deserved,” Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said. “We always want our coaches to grow and advance in the profession and Jeremy has worked very hard through the years to earn this opportunity and put himself in this situation. We appreciate all that he has done to contribute to the success we’ve had at Alabama and wish him the best in his new role.”
Pruitt has made an impact in Tuscaloosa his last two seasons. In 2012, Alabama ranks No. 6 in pass defense yielding just 166.23 yards per game and No. 8 nationally in pass efficiency defense (101.56) while also leading the nation in total defense (246.00 ypg), rushing defense (79.77 yards per game) and ranking second in scoring defense (10.69 points per game). In 2011, Alabama not only led the nation in pass defense (111.46 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (83.69 ypg), but the Crimson Tide led the nation in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense on its way to winning the BCS National Championship.
A former defensive back with the Crimson Tide, Pruitt’s knowledge on defense has helped Alabama to two Southeastern Conference Championships, two BCS National championship game berths and one BCS national title in the last three years. His secondary in 2011 produced three NFL draft picks in first rounders safety Mark Barron (No. 7 pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (No. 17 pick by the Cincinnati Bengals). Cornerback DeQuan Menzie was taken in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
In 2012, Pruitt’s secondary overcame the loss of three NFL Draft picks to become one of the best in the nation. Junior cornerback Dee Milliner led the group with 51 tackles, 18 pass breakups and two interceptions en route to earning first-team All-America honors. A finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Milliner ranks third nationally in passed defended with 1.67 per game.
The 2011 Alabama secondary was one of the best in the nation, boasting a pair of AFCA first-team All-Americans in Barron, a finalist for the Thorpe Award, and Menzie. Kirkpatrick made it three first-team All-Americans in the secondary when he and Barron received that honor from the FWAA.
Pruitt took over the Alabama secondary following the 2009 National Championship and the loss of three starters in the backfield. Under the tutelage of Pruitt, a young group came together quickly and helped Alabama lead the SEC in total defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. The Crimson Tide finished 13th nationally in pass defense yielding 176.23 yards per game and sixth in pass efficiency defense (103.54) while Alabama ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.54 ppg), fifth in total defense (286.38) and 10th in rushing defense (110.15 ypg). The 2010 secondary was anchored by Barron, who was named a first-team FWAA All-American. Barron led the Tide with 75 tackles in 12 games in 2010. Robert Lester also had a significant impact at safety earning second-team Walter Camp All-American honors while ranking second nationally with eight interceptions. At corner, Kirkpatrick was a second-team All-SEC pick, while Milliner was a freshman All-American and freshman All-SEC selection.
Pruitt joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007 after a successful stint as an assistant coach at Hoover (Ala.) High School. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A state championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03.
Pruitt began his coaching career as a student assistant coach at Alabama during the 1997 season, working under defensive backs coach Curley Hallman. After one year on the UA staff, Pruitt joined his father’s staff at Plainview High School as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator in 1998 and 2000. He spent one season as defensive backs coach at the University of West Alabama, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1999.
During his collegiate career, Pruitt played at both Middle Tennessee and Alabama. He began his career coaching under legendary coach Boots Donnelly at Middle Tennessee, where he earlier was a two-year starter at safety and cornerback for the Blue Raiders.
After his sophomore season, Pruitt transferred to Alabama where he played two seasons under Gene Stallings. As a junior, Pruitt played in nine games and appeared in seven more games as a senior backup defensive back. He was a member of Alabama’s 1996 SEC Western Division championship team that beat Michigan 17-13 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa.
A two-time all-state defensive back, Pruitt helped Plainview (Ala.) High School to compile a 48-8 record during his four-year career. He earned all-state honors in both 1991 and 1992.