December 21, 2011

Pruitt hauling in top recruits

When Alabama assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt showed up at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game earlier this month, his goal was to see UA commitment Ryan Anderson, but he also wanted to make an impression on Anderson's teammate, T.J. Yeldon.

The trip to Montgomery and the work Pruitt has put in with Yeldon and his family paid dividends on Sunday when the No. 1 running back in the state switched his commitment from Auburn to Alabama.

The five-star back was just another feather in Pruitt's cap. He has has served as the main recruiter for some of the Crimson Tide's more high-profile 2012 commits, including Eddie Williams, Chris Black, Tyler Hayes and the two Daphne teammates.

"Coach Pruitt is bringing them in," Anderson said. "I love Coach Pruitt. I talk to coach every other day. I call him every other day. We talk about everything."

"Pruitt is really good at what he does," Black said. "He doesn't really recruit me anymore. We just talk about anything now. He's down-to-earth, and you can always talk to him about something. You just feel comfortable with him."

Pruitt joined the Alabama coaching staff as Director of Player Development when head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007. The former Crimson Tide defensive back was promoted to defensive assistant coach in January when James Willis left for Texas Tech.

In less than a year as a primary assistant, Pruitt has made his presence felt on the recruiting trail, in particular the Mobile area. That was never more evident than last weekend when Alabama secured Yeldon's commitment.

Not only did Yeldon choose the Crimson Tide, but the Daphne running back switched his pledge from Auburn, UA's biggest rival.

"He does a really good job," Daphne assistant coach Mike Vickery said. "He's very persistent with the kids, but he doesn't over pursue. There are times when coaches can push kids a little too much and get to the point where it almost becomes bothersome with those kids. He treats it a little differently. He'll talk when you want to talk, and he doesn't really push kids or pressure kids too much."

It's never easy to find time during the football season for coaches to get away and see recruits, but Pruitt has made a point to see as many players as he could, both committed and uncommitted. In September, he visited Daphne to watch both Anderson and Yeldon play.

"He's done a good job with staying active even with the committed guys and making sure they're still feeling love, too," Vickery said. "I'm sure it made Ryan feel good. Anytime you have someone your close to in the stands watching you play, I'm sure it made him smile a little bit."

In addition to watching games in the state of Alabama, Pruitt also made trip to Orlando last week to watch Black -- a Rivals100 wide receiver -- play in the state championship game. Although Black's team lost, the Alabama commitment was happy to see his main recruiter at his game.

"It made me feel great just to know that he was there to support me," Black said. "He's not even recruiting me. He was just there to support me and my team, so I respected that."

With the 2012 class nearly finished, Pruitt has already started looking ahead to 2013. However, he is still the main recruiter for Alphonse Taylor, a Mobile lineman who has the Crimson Tide at the top of his list after de-committing from Florida State.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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