It was Pruitt’s turn to be the coach.
Pruitt returned to his alma mater of Ouachita Baptist University in January, taking advantage of an NFL program that pays for players to go back to school to complete their degree.
Pruitt wasn’t able to complete the three classes he needs to get his degree in kinesiology because he had to return to South Florida for the start of the offseason program, but he was at Ouachita Baptist during spring football.
Getting Pruitt to work with the Ouachita wide receivers only made sense.
“My coach, he asked me,” Pruitt said. “He needed some help coaching the receivers during spring ball, so I went out there and just tried to teach them some of the things that I was taught. It was a fun experience. Some of the guys, they really listened, they looked up to me. I was glad to be back and help.”
Ouachita Baptist is a Division II school in Arkadelphia, Ark., and Pruitt is almost a legend when it comes to the football program.
Consider that when he made his Dolphins debut last November, he became only the second Ouachita alum to play in an NFL game, joining longtime Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris.
Defensive end T.J. Bingham also was on an NFL roster in the early 1990s, but he never appeared in a regular season game. Tight end Phillip Supernaw currently is on the Houston roster after signing with the Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent.
“I take much pride (in that),” Pruitt said. “It’s a blessing. It’s a few of us. It’s a good thing.”
Pruitt’s last season at Ouachita Baptist was a memorable one as he gained over 1,100 yards receiving with 11 touchdowns and flashed enough potential to draw attention from all 32 NFL teams.
He ended the 2010 season and spent the early part of 2011 on the Dolphins practice squad before being signed to the active roster in time for the 31-3 victory at Kansas City last November.
Pruitt appeared in each of the last nine games of the regular season, and although he’s still waiting for his first NFL catch, he made a contribution on special teams as a gunner.
“It just felt like a long time coming,” Pruitt said. “I’d been working and working, coming from the practice squad. I was just waiting for my opportunity and once I got in there I was just trying to give my all, do my part. It worked out for the best.”
Not long after the season ended, Pruitt was back in Arkadelphia.
While he wasn’t able to finish his classes to complete his degree, Pruitt says he plans on going back next spring.
“It’s very important,” he said. “It’s something I promised my parents. I promised my college coaches. It’s just something I want to do for myself because once you get your degree that’s something nobody can take from you.”
Something else nobody can take from Pruitt is the valuable knowledge and experience he has gained over the last two years.
He was only too glad to pass it along, although he said it took some time to adjust to being on the other side of the coach-player relationship.
“I had to get used to yelling at guys and telling them exactly what to do,” he said with a smile. “But they’re good kids. They listened.”
In all, Ouachita Baptist conducted 15 practices in spring ball, but even that small taste gave Pruitt a new appreciation for what assistant coaches do. He says it’s also helped him on the field.
“It definitely did,” Pruitt said. “Getting back, just being in the film room with the coaches and learning just some of the ins and outs of coaching, it definitely helped me out here on the field.”