Ayanna Maxwell | Editor-in-Chief
Hampton University announced Robert Prunty as its new football coach Dec. 8 at a news conference in the Student Center Theater.
Senior Public Relations and Multimedia Marketing Specialist Matthew White greeted the audience with a friendly reminder of the 2017-2018 school year’s significance, being that it is President William R. Harvey’s 40th anniversary and the university’s 150th anniversary of existence.
Hampton Athletic Director Eugene Marshall Jr. then took to the mic. He recalled the intense selection process, saying that there were “about 87 candidates from around the country.” He continued, “Out of these 87 candidates, 10 were current NFL/CFL assistant coaches. Ten were former or current FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) head coaches. Another 10 were assistant or assistant head [coaches] from FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). Over 50 percent [of the candidates] wanted this job because we’re moving to the Big South.”
According to Marshall, Prunty’s credentials make him more than qualified for the position. Prunty, a Chatham native, spent two years at Hampton University.
“He bleeds blue and white,” Marshall said.
Prunty was regarded as a top recruiter at Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He also spent time as an associate head coach, defensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Eastern Carolina.
“We [wanted] someone [who’s] going to coach, lead [and] mentor; and at the end of the day, Coach Prunty was at the top of that list,” Marshall said.
Being a former Hamptonian, Prunty was eager to return to his “Home by the Sea.”
“In 1983, God brought me to Hampton University,” Prunty said. “In 2017, God brought me back to Hampton University.”
The university’s 21st head coach looks forward to selflessly working with the team.
“This is not my football team,” he said. “This is the university’s football team. It’s the alumni’s football team. It’s the players’ football team. It’s the fans’ and the community’s.”
Prunty discussed his goals for the Pirates as well.
“I want the players here to know that I’m going to recruit you first,” he said. “I know [there are] some guys in this room [who are] waiting for a chance. It’s an open door now. Everybody gets a shot.”
He spoke on his plans for local recruitment. According to Prunty, every coach on the Pirates’ staff will be responsible for recruiting from a certain amount of schools in the 757 area code. He believes that Hampton has more to offer athletes in the area who are overlooked.
In regards to the upcoming season, Prunty exuded ambition.
“We will be fundamental and disciplined,” he said. “We’re going to be aggressive. I’m excited for these young men to go to the Big South because we want to go in there winning. I didn’t come [to Hampton] to lose.”