Tennessee taps Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt as new head coach

Jeremy Pruitt alongside Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.

The Tennessee Volunteers finally have their new football coach – Alabama Crimson Tide assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt.

The school announced Thursday morning the Alabama defensive coordinator will be the 26th coach in program history.

Pruitt, 43, 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).

Tennessee athletic director and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said Pruitt meets all the criteria he was looking for in a head coach.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

As an assistant coach, the Rainsville, Ala. native has been a part of four national championship teams — 2009, 2011, 2012 on the staff of the Crimson Tide. And in 2013 as the defensive coordinator during the Seminoles’ undefeated national championship season.

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