The SEC East is about to be college football’s most interesting division — that is if former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson is right about first-year Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. 

Speaking on JOX Roundtable, Wilson said that Pruitt at Tennessee scares him more than Kirby Smart does at Georgia. You can listen to Wilson’s interview here — he provides good insight on both coaches — but the money quote is as follows … 

“He scares me more at Tennessee than Kirby does at Georgia,” Wilson said. “Georgia is going to be good, but down the road, Jeremy scares me more than Kirby does at Georgia.

“I just think as a head coach, not only recruiting but bringing in other coaches, having a good staff … we haven’t seen Tennessee be really good in 10 years,” Wilson said. “His ability to get them back, he’s got a higher ceiling than Georgia does. And I know the recruiting [Georgia] can do just an hour down the road in Atlanta is pretty strong.

“When Tennessee was good, they were recruiting on a national level. They were getting quarterbacks from everywhere, receivers from everywhere. I think Jeremy has the ability to do that.”

That’s a bold statement, so let’s unpack a few things. 

Keep in mind Wilson has a history with Pruitt

Wilson was a standout at Hoover High School in Alabama in the early 2000s before joining the Crimson Tide. During his high school days, Wilson’s path briefly crossed with Pruitt’s, who was still working his way through the high school ranks as an assistant. The two once again were on the same sideline when Pruitt joined Alabama’s staff in 2007 as the director of player personnel. So, yes, Wilson probably has good insight into what would make Pruitt a successful head coach in the SEC. What makes Wilson’s comments interesting is that Smart was also on the same Alabama staff. 

However, this is also #FLUFFSZN

Pruitt was hired five months ago and hasn’t coached a game, meaning he hasn’t lost or made a bad call yet, meaning the honeymoon phase is still going strong. Now’s the time to get in all the on-the-record comments about how he’s going to terrorize the division by winning on the recruiting trail and getting Tennessee back to its glory days. Maybe in four years, Wilson’s confidence in Pruitt will end up on @oldtakesexposed. Maybe he’ll be proven right. Pruitt seems like a good hire, especially in the aftermath of the most bizarre, botched coaching search in recent memory. But the “get someone who knows the guy to say glowing things about him” is S.O.P this time of year. So take them for what they’re worth.

But if Wilson is right, the SEC East could be a ton of fun

Let’s entertain the idea that Wilson’s prediction will be proven true. Smart is coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game (and nearly won) in just his second season. On that note, he received a new seven-year deal that will be worth a whopping $49 million. Presumably, he nor Georgia are going anywhere anytime soon. Meanwhile, Florida just hired Dan Mullen, who was arguably the conference’s second-best coach heading into last season because he took Mississippi State to its highest ceiling possible. The idea of the East division being legitimately three-deep again with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee is fun to imagine. 

Wink of the CBS Eye to Saturday Down South 


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