After nearly a month of trying to find the right candidate, Tennessee finally has their man.
According to long-time Knoxville reporter Jimmy Hyams, Tennessee finally has a head football coach, and an official announcement is expected from UT on Thursday, December 7th that Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will be the Vols’ next head football coach. The announcement comes 25 days after Butch Jones was fired as Tennessee’s head football coach after four-plus years on the job.
Pruitt, 43, will be a first-time head coach as he takes over Tennessee’s job. He’s been a defensive coordinator for Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State and has been an assistant coach with Alabama as well. He has three national championship rings he can boast about as well. He was an assistant with Alabama when they won titles in 2010 and 2012 and was Florida State’s defensive coordinator when they won it in 2013.
As a coordinator, Pruitt has never had a defense finish outside the top 20 nationally in yards per game. Pruitt was Florida State’s defensive coordinator in 2013, Georgia’s DC in 2014-15, and has been Alabama’s DC since 2016. His Florida State defense was 3rd in the country in yards allowed per game, his two Georgia defenses finished 17th and 7th respectively, and his Alabama defenses were tied for 1st last year and are currently ranked 2nd in the country this season.
The same can be said about his defenses and points allowed. None of his defenses have finished outside the top 20 in points allowed per game either.
Pruitt is also known as an elite recruiter and has connections to the mid-state area of Tennessee from his playing days at MTSU (he played two seasons there before playing two more at Alabama in the mid-1990s). He was the National Recruiter of the Year according to 247Sports in 2012, and he’s been the main recruiter for players like Jalen Ramsey, Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, and Rico McGraw.
Tennessee just suffered their worst season in program history, going 4-8 for the first time ever and going winless in the SEC for the first time since joining the conference in 1933. Alabama, meanwhile, is in the College Football Playoff once again.
Pruitt will be the first coach Tennessee has hired without head coaching experience since the man responsible for hiring him. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee’s current athletics director, was an assistant on Tennessee’s staff when he became the Vols’ full-time head coach.