NASHVILLE, Tenn. – MyCole Pruitt was walking through the Dallas airport this offseason when he crossed paths with a guy he's always admired from afar.
Pruitt, a tight end signed by the Titans this week, stopped the NFL player, and said hello.
"I went up and introduced myself to him because he is one of the guys I've always looked up to as a tight end," Pruitt said. "I told him I liked his game, and I was hoping to get to his level one day. He's a great player. And he gave me some encouraging words. He was really cool to me. He's really a standup guy."
The player? Tight end Delanie Walker, a three-time Pro Bowler who was headed into his 13th NFL season.
This week, the Titans signed Pruitt off the Houston Texans practice squad, and to their active roster. Pruitt, who practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday, will be among those looking to fill the big void left by Walker, who was placed on Injured Reserve after suffering an ankle injury in the season opener.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the NFL career of tight end MyCole Pruitt, who was signed off the Houston Texans' practice squad on Monday. (AP Photos)
Pruitt joins Jonnu Smith, Luke Stocker and Anthony Firkser in the tight ends group.
"Obviously they had an unfortunate situation here with Delanie going down, but I feel like I can come in and make an impact on this team, and I am going to do whatever the coach wants me to do," Pruitt said.
"Delanie, he's just an excellent talent, man. I have been keeping up with Delanie for a long time. I feel like I have a similar skill set to him. But he is a Pro Bowl talent and one of the top tight ends in this league and I am trying to get there."
Pruitt, who played collegiately at Southern Illinois, has spent time with the Vikings, Bears and Texans since entering the league in 2015. He's played in 21 career games, and has 12 catches for 122 yards.
Pruitt (6-2, 245) initially made the Texans' 53-man roster this year, but he was released a day later when the team made waiver claims on three new players. Pruitt was on the Texans' practice squad for most of the 2017 season, although he was promoted to the active roster late in the year before ending the season on IR.
He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2015 NFL Draft. Pruitt was named the best tight end in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference as part of the conference's 30-year anniversary after finishing his collegiate career with 211 receptions, 2,601 receiving yards, and 25 receiving touchdowns.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel knows Pruitt well. He was defensive coordinator with the Texans last year, and saw a lot of Pruitt in practices.
"I thought he had some good speed last year," Vrabel said. "He has good strength, he's not a tall player, but he's a thick, powerful player who has some good quickness. I thought he ran some routes well, again, watching him on the scout team last year for us in Houston. Was excited to be able to bring him into the mix. We'll see if we can get him ready enough to play in the game."
Pruitt will work with the Titans in practices this week, and Vrabel said the team hopes he can get up to speed fast enough to play against his old team.
Pruitt said he likes the group on Tennessee, and is now focused on beating the Texans.
"It is always an adjustment when you switch (teams), but playing in the NFL you have to be able to adapt and overcome certain things and situations. I am just looking forward to the opportunity," Pruitt said.
"However I can step in, that's what I am going to do. I just want to be known for versatility, and be able to go in anywhere and make an impact, whether that be special teams or moving around on offense. I am cramming this offense now as quickly as possible."
The Tennessee Titans take the field for practice on Monday, Sept. 12, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)