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TN Vols make it official: Jeremy Pruitt to be next head football coach

Image: Tennessee Athletics

UPDATE: UT held a news conference Thursday to formally introduce Jeremy Pruitt as the 26th head coach in the Tennessee football program.


UPDATE: Tennessee Athletics made it official late Thursday morning: Pruitt will be the next Vols head football coach:

This caps a tumultuous search that cost an athletic director his job as the Volunteers attempt to recover from one of their most disappointing seasons.

The school scheduled a news conference for 6:05 p.m. Thursday to introduce Pruitt.

Pruitt's hiring comes six days after former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer was named athletic director and put in charge of the coaching search. Fulmer took over for John Currie, who was suspended just eight months into the job as Tennessee investigates whether it can fire him for cause.

Pruitt replaces Butch Jones, who was fired Nov. 12 after going 34-27 overall and 14-24 in Southeastern Conference competition in five seasons. Tennessee went 4-8 this season and set a school record for losses.

Here is the text of the full release from the Vols:

University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport and Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer will hold a press conference Thursday at 6:05 p.m. ET in the Peyton Manning Locker Room to introduce Jeremy Pruitt as Tennessee’s next head football coach.
“Six days ago, I mentioned several attributes that I sought to find in the next leader of our football program, and Coach Pruitt meets all criteria” Fulmer said. “I’m certain he appreciates the unique opportunity to lead a program of Tennessee’s caliber. He’s driven to win at the highest level. He will honor our university’s values, operate with integrity and be a role model for our student-athletes.
“I know Coach Pruitt will hit the ground running and go to work restoring our program to a championship level.”
Pruitt becomes the 26th head coach in Tennessee football history. He takes the helm of the Volunteers program after cementing himself as the nation’s top defensive coordinator during stints at Alabama (2016-17), Georgia (2014-15) and Florida State (2013).
The Rainsville, Alabama, native was part of three national championships (2009, 2011, 2012) on the staff of the Crimson Tide from 2007 to 2012 and was the defensive coordinator during the Seminoles’ undefeated national championship season in 2013. He was a standout high school coach before joining the Alabama staff as the Director of Player Development in 2007. Pruitt played college football at Middle Tennessee and for the Crimson Tide.
The two-time Broyles Award finalist owns a 128-31 record as a collegiate assistant coach and was named the National Recruiter of the Year by 247Sports in 2012.
He has coached 34 NFL Draft picks and 11 first-team All-Americans. The list of players coached by Pruitt reads like a who’s who of college football’s top defensive standouts this decade and includes Butkus Award (nation’s top LB) winner Reuben Foster, National Defensive Player of the Year Jonathan Allen, top 10 NFL draft picks Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Mark Barron and Dee Milliner, and current NFL stars Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Dre Kirkpatrick, Lamarcus Joyner and Telvin Smith.
Pruitt served as the defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach during his second stint with the Crimson Tide in 2016 and 2017, leading an Alabama team that topped the nation in scoring defense and advanced to the College Football Playoff both seasons.
Prior to his return to Alabama, Pruitt was the defensive coordinator/secondary coach for two seasons at Georgia, guiding the nation’s No. 1 pass defense in 2015 and leading a squad that finished in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense in 2014.
Pruitt’s first defensive coordinator job came at Florida State in 2013 where he also coached the defensive backs. The Seminoles led the nation in scoring defense (12.1 ppg), pass defense (156.6) and interceptions (26) en route to a 14-0 record and the BCS National Championship in his lone season with the Garnet and Gold.
Pruitt served as the defensive backs coach at Alabama from 2010 to 2012, helping the Crimson Tide win back-to-back BCS National Championships in 2011 and 2012.

Depend on us to update this story as we get new information.

PREVIOUSLY:

After a long, anxious wait for fans and players alike, the Vols reportedly have a new head coach: Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has accepted the head coach job, according to Knoxville sports radio station WNML.

Longtime Knoxville radio reporter Jimmy Hyams of WNML says that Pruitt accepted the job, even as details are still being ironed out.

Sources told ESPN Wednesday night that Tennessee is still finalizing the deal with Pruitt, and that he was offered the job earlier Wednesday.

Pruitt is 43-years-old and from Rainsville, Alabama.

He played defensive back at Middle Tennessee and Alabama.

After his playing days, he coached at Plainview High School, Fort Payne High School and Hoover High School.

In college, he coached at Alabama, FSU and Georgia. He has won national championships at Alabama and FSU.

Pruitt is in his second season as Alabama's defensive coordinator under Nick Saban.

SEC Country reports that one obstacle could be whether Tennessee allows Pruitt to stay on staff at Alabama through the College Football Playoffs.

We hope to learn Thursday if that is being negotiated.

The Vols have also interviewed Auburn's Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele and UGA's Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker.

Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee's former Hall of Fame coach, replaced John Currie last Friday as the Vols' athletic director.

We are still waiting on official confirmation from UT on the hiring.

Depend on us to keep you posted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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