Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick not surprised by Jeremy Pruitt's impending departure

Alabama junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has witnessed four members of the Crimson Tide's 2015 staff become head coaches, so he's not surprised that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is doing the same.

Alabama junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick hardly finds it strange that Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is also the new head coach at Tennessee.

It's a movie Fitzpatrick has seen over and over during his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.

"When coaches come here, you expect them to leave," Fitzpatrick said in a news conference Saturday afternoon. "A lot of coaches come here for business opportunities, and a lot of coaches want to become head coaches. You kind of expect them to leave and go somewhere else."

Fitzpatrick, the recent winner of the Jim Thorpe Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, has played for two defensive coordinators at Alabama, with Pruitt having replaced Kirby Smart after the Crimson Tide's 2015 national championship season. Four members of that 2015 staff are now head coaches - Smart (Georgia), offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin (Florida Atlantic), offensive line coach Mario Cristobal (Oregon) and receivers coach Billy Napier (Louisiana-Lafayette).

Alabama's only current assistants who were on the 2015 staff are running backs coach Burton Burns and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi, who was in his first season.

Lupoi helped oversee the defense Friday and Saturday, when the Crimson Tide began on-campus preparations for their Sugar Bowl showdown against Clemson on New Year's Day. Alabama took Sunday off and will conduct its third practice this afternoon.

Pruitt spent Friday and Saturday recruiting for Tennessee but returned to Tuscaloosa on Sunday to resume his coordinator chores.

"I'm happy for him and his family," Fitzpatrick said, "and I wish him the best."

Fitzpatrick sticking around to play for a third defensive coordinator in four seasons may be a scenario that never materializes. Nearly a week ago, the 6-foot-1, 202-pounder was projected by ESPN analyst Todd McShay as the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.

Vols head football coach search