The two teams will tangle in a key SEC West showdown
The 2012 season is Jeremy Pruitt's third with the Alabama's coaching staff after being hired in January of 2010. A former defensive back with the Crimson Tide, Pruitt coaches the secondary.
In 2012, Pruitt's secondary overcame the loss of NFL Draft picks in safety Mark Barron, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and cornerback DeQuan Menzie to become one of the best in the nation. Junior cornerback Dee Milliner led the group with 51 tackles, 18 pass breakups and two interceptions en route to earning first-team All-America honors. A finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Milliner ranks third nationally in passed defended with 1.67 per game. Joining Milliner in the back end of the Tide defense is senior safety Robert Lester at safety, a three-year starter who has made 42 tackles and share the team lead in interceptions (four) with safety HaHa Clinton-Dix.
The 2011 Alabama secondary was one of the best in the nation, boasting a pair of AFCA first-team All-Americans in Barron, a finalist for the Thorpe Award, and Menzie. Kirkpatrick made it three first-team All-Americans in the secondary when he and Barron received that honor from the FWAA. Milliner also made significant contributions at corner and led the team with three interceptions. Lester, who started alongside Barron at safety, collected 39 total tackles, a pair of interceptions, five passes defended, one forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2011 after leading the team in interceptions in 2010.
The defensive backfield had a lot of new faces on the field in 2010 with the loss of starters Javier Arenas (CB), Kareem Jackson (CB) and Justin Woodall (S) following the 2009 National Championship. Under the tutelage of Pruitt, the young group came together quickly and helped Alabama lead the SEC in total defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense.
The 2010 secondary was anchored by Barron, who was named a first-team FWAA All-American. He led the Tide with 75 tackles in 12 games in 2010, missing the Capital One Bowl with a shoulder injury. Lester also had a significant impact at safety earning second-team Walter Camp All-American honors and ranking second nationally with eight interceptions in 2010. At corner, Kirkpatrick was a second-team All-SEC pick, while Milliner was a Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC selection.
Pruitt joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007 after a successful stint as an assistant coach at Hoover (Ala.) High School. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A state championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03.
Pruitt began his coaching career as a student assistant coach at Alabama during the 1997 season, working under defensive backs coach Curley Hallman. After one year on the UA staff, Pruitt joined his father's staff at Plainview High School as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator in 1998 and 2000. He spent one season as defensive backs coach at the University of West Alabama, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1999.
During his collegiate career, Pruitt played at both Middle Tennessee and Alabama. He began his career coaching under legendary coach Boots Donnelly at Middle Tennessee, where he earlier was a two-year starter at safety and cornerback for the Blue Raiders.
After his sophomore season, Pruitt transferred to Alabama where he played two seasons under Gene Stallings. As a junior, Pruitt played in nine games and appeared in seven more games as a senior backup defensive back. He was a member of Alabama's 1996 SEC Western Division championship team that beat Michigan 17-13 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa.
A two-time all-state defensive back, Pruitt helped Plainview High School to compile a 48-8 record during his four-year career. He earned all-state honors in both 1991 and 1992.