Tennessee hires Jeremy Pruitt as new head coach

BY: TYRIA GOINES

KNOXVILLE, T.N. — The Tennessee Volunteers have ended their search for a head coach and officially hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on Thursday.

Pruitt, 43, is a two-time Broyles Award finalist as the top assistant coach in college football. The new athletic director and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says Pruit had two qualities he was looking for in a head coach: a tough-minded defensive presence and a proven track record as a recruiter.

Pruitt is curently in his second season as defensive coordinator under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide are ranked first nationally in scoring defense and second nationally in total defense. Pruitt, who is the fourth Saban assistant to become an SEC head coach, is also regarded as one of the top recruiters in the conference. As an assistant coach, he has been a part of four national championship teams.

A former defensive back at Alabama, Pruitt served two different stints on the Crimson Tide staff under Saban. He initially coached in Tuscaloosa from 2007 to 2012, the final three seasons as defensive backs coach. Pruitt then was the defensive coordinator at Florida State on the Seminoles’ 2013 national championship team, and he was the defensive coordinator at Georgia under Mark Richt for the 2014 and 2015 seasons before returning to Alabama.

Pruitt becomes the fifth head coach at Tennessee in the past 11 years. He replaces Butch Jones, who was fired after going 34-27 overall and 14-24 in SEC play in five seasons in Knoxville.

Tennessee was close to hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano in late November, but the deal fell through because of backlash from fans and supporters.

The Vols will officially introduce Pruitt as their 26th head coach at a news conference Thursday evening.

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