A couple of former Alabama players will be filling new roles as assistants on SEC coaching staffs in 2018. Will Friend is offensive line coach at Tennessee and Joey Jones is special teams coach at Mississippi State.
Each will be coaching under a first-year head coach: Friend under Jeremy Pruitt and Jones on the staff of Joe Moorhead.
Moorhead didn’t know Jones before hiring him. He cited Jones’ history of recruiting in Alabama as head coach for nine years at South Alabama – where he beat Mississippi State in 2016 – his head coaching experience and South Alabama’s performance on special teams during his tenure made him “a great natural fit to bring … to Mississippi State.”
Pruitt and Friend were teammates at Alabama and both are sons of high school coaches. Pruitt said coaching against offensive lines coached by Friend convinced him to make the hire.
“There’s only a few teams that really ran the ball effectively against us,” Pruitt said. “One of them was the 2012 Georgia team and one of them was last year (when Friend was) at Colorado State.”
Bigger orange rivalry
Tennessee junior wide receiver Marquez Callaway expects Tennessee’s hiring of former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its head coach to intensify the rivalry between the two teams.
“It’ll probably add a lot to it, because a lot of the players that he coached are still on the Alabama team, so they may take it more personally or he may take it more personally,” Callaway said. “All we can know is that when they come to us, we’re going to give them all we got.”
-Tommy Deas and James Ogletree contributed to this report