Bailey to Tennessee: “I want to help re-build the program”
Harrison Bailey kept most guessing until the minute he announced his commitment. Michigan and Tennessee made strong cases for the four-star quarterback out of Marietta, Ga., but Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee Vols got the news they wanted Thursday afternoon.
Once Pruitt took over for Butch Jones last December, Bailey immediately became a priority for the Vols, and that played a role in his decision.
“I have visited there seven or eight times and most came after coach Pruitt took over,” said Bailey. “I got the offer from the old [coaching] staff, but I did not hear much from them. As soon as coach Pruitt got there, he told me that he wanted me to quarterback his team.
“I knew I was a priority from that point. Every time I have visited since then, I felt wanted and they made me feel like I was part of the team already. That was important to me.”
Pruitt and the staff in Knoxville have not been the only ones recruiting Bailey. His teammate, 2019 Tennessee commit Ramel Keyton has been staying in his ear too.
“Oh yeah, Ramel has been begging me to go to Tennessee with him. He has stayed on me. It is good having a connection with someone like him when I get there, so it will be great that we get to play together again.”
Now Bailey gets to do some recruiting. Pruitt made sure Bailey knew that he would be an extra recruiter if he selected Tennessee.
“Coach Pruitt has always told me that in the 2020 class, he wanted me and he wanted me to go recruit guys I want to play with. He has told me to let them know who I want to get and they will help me build this class.
“I want to definitely get some top offensive linemen and wide receivers. I have my teammate Arik Gilbert, wide receivers Porter Rooks and Joshua Downs and some others already in mind. I will be recruiting for sure.”
Having strong recruiting classes are the bloodlines to every program. Bailey knows Tennessee does not have the roster to compete at the level it expects to, but that actually appealed to the Peach State signal caller.
“I am really big on starting from ground zero and build something,” said Bailey. “At Michigan, they already have an established program, but at Tennessee, I can help build the program up.
“I feel like I can help coach Pruitt build a powerhouse. I want to help re-build the program. That is what I want to be a part of.”
Bailey has total faith that Pruitt is on track to do just that.
Tyson Helton was the offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Pruitt hired, but left for Western Kentucky earlier this week. That is something many felt could hurt Tennessee with Bailey, but that opening has already been discussed. Bailey liked Helton, but as long as Pruitt is in the lead, Bailey wants to be part of the program.
“I had a little talk with my family when we found out Coach Helton was leaving, but it really did not bother me. Coach Pruitt talked to me about it as soon as it came out and I fine with it.
“I have full confidence in Coach Pruitt. Since I announced that I was going to commit, he has contacted me every day and we have a great relationship.
“I trust Coach Pruitt and I trust the staff. I feel he brought in an all-star staff and big things are going to happen there. That is really what it came down to. I have faith in Coach Pruitt and I feel I can thrive there.”