Should Nick Saban rehire Jeremy Pruitt as Alabama football DC? Former Tide LB says yes | Goodbread

Chase Goodbread
The Tuscaloosa News

MOBILE, Ala. — Opinions on who Alabama football coach Nick Saban should hire as his next defensive coordinator aren't hard to find.

Few of them, however, are as well-informed as Shaun Dion Hamilton's, because he's played in a Saban defense. He's been part of some of the Crimson Tide's most dominant defensive units, and he knows plenty about the guy many fans hope Saban will turn to for the job: Jeremy Pruitt.

Hamilton said Pruitt has his full endorsement.

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"People from the state of Alabama, they know he takes pride in it. He was so smart, and worked hard always. He'd make sure guys were in the right places, he made sure we were all clean on the game plan and he's an especially good recruiter," said Hamilton, now a defensive assistant with the Detroit Lions who is coaching this week at the Reese's Senior Bowl. "You might as well say he's a resident of Tuscaloosa. I'm sure everybody would love to have him back, but I know coach Saban will make the right decision, whoever he chooses."

Hamilton's last two years at Alabama coincided with Pruitt's two-year stretch as defensive coordinator from 2016-2017. Despite being beset by knee injuries during that time, he made 134 tackles and 16 tackles for loss at inside linebacker over two seasons in Pruitt's defense.

Hamilton said he's got no inside knowledge of who Saban is targeting for the DC role. Reports placed Washington's Ryan Grubb in Tuscaloosa for an interview as an offensive coordinator candidate, followed by news that Grubb will stay with the Huskies, but Saban's movements on the DC hire have maintained stealth. Pruitt spent three seasons as head coach at Tennessee, but was fired for cause two years ago amid an NCAA investigation that hasn't yet closed.

Hamilton, for one, is watching closely from afar.

Despite the demands of pro coaching, he doesn't miss an Alabama game and said he's even been known, in his spare time, to break down the Alabama game film that NFL staffs receive for scouting purposes. As for the Crimson Tide's 2022 defense, Hamilton recognized that something was missing compared to the No.1-ranked defenses he was a part of under Pruitt.

"They definitely had things they could correct," Hamilton added. "But I trust Nick Saban enough to know he's making the right decisions to get us back to the standard of how we play defense over there."

Pruitt isn't the only familiar name who could be under consideration for Saban. Alabama analyst Todd Grantham, who has plenty of experience as a defensive coordinator, represents an internal option, while Georgia co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann got his start in the business under Saban as a graduate assistant.

Hamilton said he'll trust in whomever Saban hires.

But like a lot of former Alabama players, Pruitt is his guy.

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Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.