UPDATE: Chancellor Beverly Davenport and Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer will introduce Jeremy Pruitt as head coach in the Peyton Manning Locker Room at 6:05 p.m. on Thursday. Watch WBIR tonight at 6 to watch the press conference live, or on our Facebook page.
An unprecedented coaching search has finally come to an end at Tennessee. Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will be named the 26th head coach for the Tennessee Vol football program.
A deal was reached between the coach and the University after much discussion on Wednesday night, which was initially confirmed with WBIR's sources and later by UT Football.
Phillip Fulmer, UT Director of Athletics, believes Pruitt is the right man for the job.
"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."
Born in Rainsville, Alabama, Pruitt has lived and worked in the southeast for most of his life.
A two-time all-state defense back at Plainview High School, Pruitt played college ball at Middle Tennessee State and Alabama in the mid 90s. Pruitt worked with the Crimson Tide as a graduate assistant in 1997, but spent much of his time after that coaching at the high school level.
This season was his second stint as an assistant coach with the Alabama Crimson Tide, working previously as the defensive backs coach under Nick Saban from 2010-2012. Pruitt spent time as the director of player development from 2007-2009.
In 2013, Pruitt was hired as the defensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles under head coach Jimbo Fisher. While in Tallahassee, Pruitt's defense led the nation in points allowed, averaging just 12.1 per game on the way to a national championship over the Auburn Tigers.
Pruitt returned the SEC the next season, working as the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2014-2015. Pruitt helped build a stellar UGA defense, finishing 17th in the country in total defense in 2014 and 7th in total defense in 2015.
After working under Mark Richt, Pruitt returned to Tuscaloosa -- this time as the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for Saban. In 2016, the Crimson Tide led the nation in scoring defense (13.0 ppg) and rushing defense (63.9 ypg). Alabama finished second overall in total defense.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban called Pruitt "hard-working, dedicated, and organized with exceptional knowledge of the game" in a statement. He praised his recruiting and said he will do a great job at Tennessee and we wish him the best."
First up, Nick Saban 👇 pic.twitter.com/0oWfoVwMAI— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) December 7, 2017
Pruitt's hire brings to a close one of the most dramatic and eventful college football coaching searches in recent memory.
Former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones was fired nearly four weeks ago after a 50-17 loss to the Mizzou Tigers in Columbia, Missouri. Tennessee went on to finish the year with its worst record in program history (4-8), going winless in SEC play.
The coaching search that followed at the end of the regular season might go down in history as one of the most turbulent and unpredictable moments in college sports this decade.
Former director of athletics John Currie nearly hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but news of the deal sparked outrage in the Tennessee community.
The deal fell through, rumors of other deals came and went, and Currie's tenure at Tennessee soon fell to the sounds of outrage from fans, lawmakers and many others as the rest of the SEC fanbase watched on with morbid curiosity.
On Friday, December 1, Currie was suspended and former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer was placed into the role as director of athletics, much to the relief of many VFLs. He has been in charge of the search ever since and within a week has decisively put a close to this odd chapter in the Vols' history.
Now, all eyes on are Pruitt to assemble a new slew of coaches to help lead the team