KNOXVILLE — Tennessee's new football coach is known for his defensive prowess, but Jeremy Pruitt also has an idea of what he wants his Volunteers offense to look like.
He said during his introductory news conference Thursday inside Neyland Stadium that he envisions his offense being balanced. Finding balance starts with one thing, Pruitt said.
"We want to be able to run the football when we want to be able to run it," he said. "It starts with dominating the line of scrimmage. It's no secret. If you want to be successful in this league, you've got to dominate up front."
The 43-year-old has been a defensive coordinator at three schools over the last five years with all but one of those units finishing in the nation's top 10 for total defense. Pruitt said his hand will be in all elements of the Tennessee program, though, as he begins the first head coaching job of his career.relatedarticlethumbfacebookrelatedarticlethumb
"It's important as a head coach to be involved in all the day-to-day operations, whether it be the weight room, nutrition or academics," Pruitt said. "My name will be on this program. If my name is on it, I am all in."
So what's the overall goal?
"My vision for our football team is we want to be a big, fast, physical, dominating, aggressive, relentless football team that nobody in the SEC wants to play," Pruitt said.
"That's my goal."
Pruitt has typically employed a 3-4 defense with three down linemen and four linebackers during his coaching career. He left the door open for flexibility when pressed about whether he'll continue with the 3-4 at Tennessee.
"If you've got two really good linebackers and five really good defensive linemen, then we probably need to be playing those five defensive linemen and those two really good linebackers," Pruitt said. "I think that's part of it, especially with me having a high school background. There's some years that the three-technique weighs 300 pounds and there's some years that he weighs 150, but I'm going to tell you that in Rainsville, Alabama, they want to win regardless. You have to find a way to be adaptable, be flexible, and that's what we'll do."
It's important, Pruitt said, to play the best personnel you have.
Pruitt is set recruit for Tennessee up until the NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period, which begins Dec. 18. Then he'll rejoin Alabama for the Crimson Tide's College Football Playoff semifinal game against Clemson in New Orleans on Jan. 1.
Once Alabama's season ends, Pruitt's full attention will turn to instilling his vision at Tennessee.
"You didn't draft me," he said. "I chose to be here. I told the players today. They chose to sign with the University of Tennessee. Where we want to go, we're talking about championships. Instead of talking about what we want, let's figure out how to get there. It's going to take everyone associated with this university. Everybody. From the people that work in administration to the people that work out in maintenance. It don't matter.
"So how do we get there? It's positive energy. All in. When people come to campus, it's got to be contagious. I want to be a part of it, because that's what it starts with."
Contact David Cobb at email@example.com.
This story was updated Dec. 7 at 11:59 p.m.