KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Volunteers finally have their new head coach.
After an indirect search for coaches that took almost every conceivable twist, the Vols have ended their deal with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. "Sources informed ESPN on Thursday.
The sources informed ESPN that Pruitt plans to remain as defensive coordinator of Alabama through the College Football Playoff, while the sources informed ESPN, doing double duty as the head coach of ESPN. the Vols and leading their recruiting efforts and reuniting their staff in Tennessee.
The fourth-ranked Alabama plays against the No. 1 Clemson in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day – it will be the third consecutive season that Alabama will fight with the loss of a coordinator before playing in the football college jump-off.
Pruitt, 43, is in his second season as defensive coordinator under Nick Saban.The Crimson Tide are ranked first national defense in scoring this season and second nationally in total defense. Pruitt is also considered one of the best recruiters in the SEC. As badistant coach, he has been part of four national championship teams.
Phillip Fulmer, former head coach of the Tennessee Football Hall of Fame, led the search for coaches since he replaced John Currie on Friday as the Vols' athletic director.  Fulmer interviewed Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on Tuesday in New York. Fulmer notified Tucker on Wednesday that the school was going in a different direction.
Pruitt, a two-time Broyles finalist as the best badistant coach in college football, has two of the qualities Fulmer highlighted in his quest: a tough-minded defensive presence and a proven track record as a recruiter.
A former defensive back in Alabama, Pruitt served two different periods on the staff of Crimson Tide under Saban. He initially trained in Tuscaloosa from 2007 to 2012, the last three seasons as a defensive backs coach. Pruitt was then the defensive coordinator at Florida State in the 2013 National Seminole Team, and was the defensive coordinator in Georgia with Mark Richt for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, before returning to his alma mater.
Son of Legendary Alabama high school coach, Dale Pruitt, was badistant coach in the high school ranks before reaching his alma mater in 2007 as director of player development for Saban. Both defenses of Pruitt as Alabama defensive coordinator have led the country in scoring defense. His defense of the state of Florida in 2013 also led the country in scoring defense.
Pruitt becomes the fifth different head coach in Tennessee in the last 11 years. He replaces Butch Jones, who was fired after going 34-27 in total and 14-24 in the SEC in five seasons in Knoxville.
With Currie, Tennessee was close to hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano at the end of November, but the deal failed due to the negative reaction of fans and supporters.
With the hiring of Pruitt, agent Jimmy Sexton now represents 11 head coaches in the SEC.