Nick Saban vs Jeremy Pruitt
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Who's next: Tennessee rebuild hinges on Jeremy Pruitt's ability to recruit

Alabama hasn’t lost a regular-season game against a non-conference opponent since 2007. Yet the Crimson Tide has lost at least once in SEC play in nine of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s 13 seasons.

For that reason, BamaInsider decided to skip straight to the games that matter most when it comes to previewing the coaches Alabama will face in 2020. Today we continue with Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Previously covered:

Is Kirby Smart's championship window closing?

Can Lane Kiffin fulfill his potential?

Sam Pittman? Who is that?

Does Mike Leach deserve the hype?

Performance against Saban

Record against Saban: 0-2

Total score: 93-34

Next meeting: Oct. 24 @ Tennessee

Accomplishments

-Overall record: 13-12

-Broyles Award finalist (2013 and 2016).

-Upset then-No. 11 Kentucky and then-No. 21 Auburn in 2018.


Story lines

Nothing is official until the ink is dry, but Tennessee currently boasts the No. 2 class in the country.

It's tough to imagine that class finishing inside the top five, but Pruitt's shown a knack for recruiting countless times over.

Perhaps his best effort didn't involve any prospects at all, but instead current members of his team. Last season he rallied Tennessee to a 7-1 finish after an ugly 1-4 start. Two of those losses came against Georgia State (7-6) and BYU (7-6).

The other three came against Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Pruitt's squad lost those games by 27.3 points.

Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is 2-0 against Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt (Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports)
Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is 2-0 against Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt (Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports)

What's on the line

It's one thing to recruit, but all that potential goes to waste if Tennessee doesn't contend for the SEC East during the next few seasons.

To do that Pruitt probably has to beat both Georgia or Florida. Even that might not be enough to get Tennessee to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Alabama is always looming and Kentucky is the only SEC foe Pruitt has beaten twice.

The upcoming 2020 season should be especially tough for Tennessee considering Pruitt's squad travels to Oklahoma during week two. If Tennessee drops that game it would be understandable, but going 0-4 against the Sooners, Alabama, Florida and Georgia could put Pruitt on the hot seat in 2021.

Plus it might derail the team's ongoing recruiting efforts.

Recruiting battles

Tennessee has a few guys that Alabama would have welcomed in 2021, but four-star Dylan Brooks stands out as a possible flip candidate for the Crimson Tide.

Pruitt's first two classes ranked 13th and seventh, respectively. If his 2021 class remains inside the top 10, he will have proven himself as one of the very best recruiters in the country.

The last time Tennessee finished higher than 13th was in 2015 when the class ranked fifth overall.

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Andrew Bone, of BamaInsider.com, is a real estate broker in the state of Alabama. 

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