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Every position on defense will get a close look by new coach Jeremy Pruitt, and defensive back is possibly the biggest priority right now.
Indeed, Pruitt mentioned recruiting only one position group during his introductory news conference.
“For instance, at defensive back we’re going to look for guys that have size, speed, they can play the ball in the deep part of the field, they can open their hips and tackle, they’ve got the ability to play man-to-man,” Pruitt said. “Every position we’ll have critical factors.”
It’s not surprising this is the group he singled out. Pruitt’s background has focused primarily on defensive backs, and Tennessee has already shifted the type of players it values as defensive backs.
This week, Pruitt nudged cornerback commit Brandon Cross out the door. Soft commit Tanner Ingle also was told to look elsewhere, although he already had begun that process. The parting of ways was simple. They didn’t fit the mold of what Pruitt was looking for at the position. Both are 6-foot or under and aren’t very physical.
Instead, long and physical defensive backs works best in the system Pruitt wants to implement.
Tennessee’s latest cornerback offer is exactly what Pruitt wants his players to look like at the position. Jeremy Webb stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 195 pounds. He is rated as the No. 2 junior college corner in the country. Webb, from ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., has the size to press wide receivers at the line and disrupt the timing of their routes.
Pruitt has coached some of the best secondaries in college football the past four seasons as a defensive coordinator. Look for Pruitt to target more top-tier defensive backs with similar frames to Webb.
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