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Sources: Jeremy Pruitt hired as new football coach at UT

Photo credit: USA Today/WBIR

UPDATE, 11:23 a.m.

The University of Tennessee has confirmed the Pruitt hiring and has scheduled a press conference for 6:05 p.m. to introduce him. The gathering is being held in the Peyton Manning Locker Room with Athletic Director Phil Fulmer and Chancellor Beverly Davenport attending.

Here is the statement released by UT officials:

"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.

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UPDATE, 10:33 a.m.

Sources for NBC affiliate WBIR are now confirming that Jeremy Pruitt will be the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.

ESPN is reporting that Pruitt will be allowed to stay at Alabama to coach in the National Championship Playoff while he recruits for Tennessee and assembles his assistant coaches.

The Crimson Tide will play Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on New Year's Day.

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The search for the Vols' next head football coach is likely coming to an end.

Sources tell WBIR, Tennessee is finalizing a deal to make Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt its next head football coach.

GoVols247 reported that Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer met with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on Wednesday, and that Pruitt is expected to be named the next head UT football coach.

Sources say the only question that remains is whether he will coach in Alabama's semifinal game against Clemson.

Pruitt is in his second season as the Alabama defensive coordinator. Last year, Pruitt's defense led the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 13 points per game. Pruitt worked previously under Alabama head coach Nick Saban as a defensive backs coach, before moving on to Tallahassee as the defensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles. Pruitt won a national championship at FSU in 2013, once again, touting the nation's best scoring defense, giving up just 12.1 points per game.

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