CONYERS, Ga. — Caleb Pruitt can pinpoint the exact moment during his 2016 season that best defines him as a quarterback.
It happened during the second half of a rare Heritage win over rival Rockdale. When Pruitt rattles off the particulars of the play, he sort of sounds like the coach who drew it up.
“Ace flip 91 X-cop was the call,” Pruitt said. “It was a corner post. (Rockdale) was playing a Cover Two, so I knew it was gonna be there. All I had to do was lay it out there and let the receiver run and go get it. It was a big score.”
Big for many reasons. It was the longest pass play from scrimmage for Pruitt on a night when he threw for 276 yards and two scores while completing 19 of his 26 passes. It was also, perhaps, the back-breaker in Heritage’s 39-28 win over Rockdale — a rare win for the Patriots against their in-county rivals.
“It was the first time our seniors had won against those guys,” Pruitt said. “It was huge.”
Huge also for the 6′, 188-pound rising senior who went on to throw for 3,315 yards, 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while also rushing for 181 yards on 42 carries. It was a breakthrough year for the Heritage signal-caller who thrived in coach Corey Johnson’s new offense that gave Pruitt the chance to show people what he can do.
“I always thought I had the ability,” Pruitt said. “But when the new head coach and offensive coordinator came, I think it was just a combination of things. I was able to play more because I had a coaching staff that believed in me and guys around me that could make plays. I played with some guys who had good chemistry and I knew that I could do it, so when the time came for me, I just went out and let it rip.”
If that sounds like it all comes natural for the senior, it may be because he’s been around the game enough to where his new coaches could quickly tell they could trust him to be somewhat of a coach on the field.
Nothing new for Pruitt, who says he’s been around football all his life, thanks to his dad, Brian.
“My dad coached college football for, like, 20 years,” he said. “So I literally grew up on the sideline. I remember when I was younger, like two or three years old, I’d be in the back when my dad pulled the truck up to the practice field, and I’d sit in the back and just watch. When I got a little older, I followed him around, just to be around the game, so it just kind of stuck with me.”
Pruitt has also found a way to get more weight to stick onto his 6′ frame. He’s up close to 190 pounds after offseason workouts, where he increased his strength while maintaining his speed.
And while he understands that many colleges have held back their trigger fingers on offering him a scholarship — to this day Pruitt has some interest, but no official scholarship offers — he chooses not to focus on things that he can’t control, like his size. He continues to concentrate on fine-tuning his game, which means finding players of similar size to model his style after.
“Just look at guys like Russell Wilson,” Pruitt said, referring to the Seattle Seahawks quarterback. “He’s about my height, but he dominates. Drew Brees is another one that I look up to in that way. If size mattered, elephants would be king of the jungle.”
He voraciously studies the cerebral part of the game, watching mounds of film and gaining confidence from Heritage’s coaching staff, which he says trusts him with a lot of responsibility.
“Our coaches give us a lot of freedom,” he said. “I usually go in with three or four options on each play, and they give me freedom to take advantage of the matchups I like and to make plays based on what I see.”
One thing Pruitt says he continues to see for himself is a bright future at the next level, no matter where he ends up. And he understands that the whole world doesn’t have to offer him, as long as the right school does.
“Sometimes knowing they look over me because of size bothers me,” he said. “But at the same time, I know that God ultimately has a plan for my life. I trust the process. When the right school comes along, I don’t care about all the stars and offers. If the one school that’s made for me finds me, then that’s all that matters, and I’ll give them a leader on and off the field with good grades, who’s in the right places and does whatever he can to lead my team to victory.”
article written by Gabriel Stovall – follow him on Twitter @GabrielStovall1