By Jimmy Hyams
Tennessee was the first in the SEC to have a black head men’s basketball coach.
It has had a black director of track and field.
It had the first black starting quarterback in the SEC some 47 years ago, dude named Condredge Holloway.
It now has its first black coordinator in football, defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, hired away from the Raiders for a $1 million per year salary.
Pruitt was asked at the SEC spring meetings if he consciously wanted a minority for a coordinator.
“You try to have diversity on your staff when you’re building it,’’ Pruitt said. “I played on the defensive side so I know a lot about diversity. When I was playing at Alabama, I was one of the few white guys on the defensive side. Most of my friends were minority guys, guys that I went to college with and spent lots of time together.
“I think it’s important for all universities, not just the University of Tennessee, to really consider diversity moving forward. You talk about the men we coach and the impact we can have on their lives in the future. I think we have great coaches on our staff. I think Derrick Ansley will do a fantastic job for us. He’s a guy I’ve worked with in the past and a good friend of mine.’’
South Carolina has two black coordinators.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp was asked about having two minority coordinators.
“They’re good coaches regardless of their skin color,’’ Muschamp said.
Meanwhile, Pruitt said linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., who has had multiple knee surgeries since making freshman All-American in 2015, regrettably ended his career.
“He didn’t get the opportunity to fulfill his goal of playing in the NFL,’’ Pruitt said.
Pruitt said Kirkland graduated with a 3.1 GPA in sports management with a minor in business administration. Kirkland has an internship lined up in Washington DC, Pruitt said.
“Darrin done a fantastic job for us last year,’’ Pruitt said. “He’s been a great ambassador for Tennessee.’’
Kirkland rehabbed with famed Dr. James Andrews in hopes of sitting out this season but playing in the NFL after that. It didn’t work.
He’s exhausted everything he can to get himself back to where he can physically play,’’ Pruitt said. “We all get to this point in time where either they tell us we’re not good enough anymore or our body tells us it’s time to stop. Darrin feels it’s time to move on. If it don’t work out for him (in D.C.), I told him he’d have a job (at UT) if he wants to come back.’’
Pruitt said he has no update on suspended defensive back Kenneth George, Jr., who was arrested in Florida during spring break after an incident with a police officer. Pruitt said he would let due process take its course.
Pruitt said transfers Deangelo Gibbs (defensive back) and Aubrey Solomon (defensive tackle) are still waiting to hear about a waiver from the NCAA.
Pruitt said he expects all signees that weren’t mid-termers to enroll in summer school although some might be delayed until they graduate from high school.