It’s official. Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was introduced as the 26th head coach of the Vols on Thursday evening at Neyland Stadium.
“I told Phillip [Fulmer] from the start, find the best person for our next football coach. I truly believe he’s done the job,” said UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport at the news conference.
“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.” UT athletic director Phillip 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.”
“There was a time and place this team was feared in the SEC. My goal is to get us back to that point,”.said Pruitt. “My vision for our football team is we want to be a big, fast, dominating, aggressive, relentless football team that nobody in the SEC wants to play.”
Pruitt said coaching students off the field is just as important as coaching them off the field.
“I want guys who want a degree. I want guys who have a plan,” he said.
He said his expectation is to win every game the team plays and believes the players will take on the personality of the head coach.
“I want to challenge everyone who is associated with the University of Tennessee, let’s get our hands out of our pockets, let’s roll our sleeves up and lets get out in the streets working,” said Pruitt.
Pruitt said he will work at UT recruiting until the dead period and then will return to Alabama to serve as defensive coordinator for the College Football Playoff.
He said he would take his time to build a staff, making sure to find the right people for the job, and would not name any names.
Fox Sports reporter Bruce Feldman says UGA OLB coach Kevin Sherrer is expected to be the Vols’ new DC. Tracy Rocker and Chris Rumph are also expected to join the staff.
SOURCE: #UGA OLB coach Kevin Sherrer is expected to be the #Vols new DC under Jeremy Pruitt. In addition, Tracy Rocker and Chris Rumph are expected to join that D-staff. Lots of good experience there, especially in the SEC.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 7, 2017
Pruitt Signs Six-Year Deal
Pruitt’s memorandum of understanding says he will earn a base pay of $275,000 per year over a six year contract, plus $3.525 million per year under various broadcast, endorsement and/or consultation contracts, for a total of $3.8 million per year.
That does not include either a monthly vehicle allowance or two quality vehicles, a one-time $35,000 moving allowance, and a housing allowance of $10,000 per month through June 2018.
It does also not include various incentives, including bonuses for winning the SEC Championship, appearances in bowl games or playoff games, high finishes in polls, coach of the year awards, and high academic progress.
Should the university terminate Pruitt before his contract is up, he would be owed $2.28 million for each year left on his contract. If Pruitt leaves, he would owe the university $6 million in the first year, $5 million in the second year, $4 million in the third year, $3 million in the fourth year, and $2 million in the fifth year.
Pruitt is the first UT head coach with Alabama ties since Bill Battle, who coached the Vols from 1970-1976. Battle later returned to Alabama to serve as the university’s athletic director.
The news of Pruitt’s deal comes five years to the day after Butch Jones was hired in 2012.
Pruitt, 43, has been the defensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban at Alabama since 2016. During that time, the Crimson Tide appeared in the College Football Playoff both years, losing to Clemson in the national championship game in 2016. The Tide are the fourth seed this year.
Prior to his time in Tuscaloosa, Pruitt served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia (2014-15) and Florida State (2013). He also worked at Alabama as an assistant coach from 2007-2012.
Pruitt, who was a defensive back at MTSU (1993-94) and Alabama (1995-96) also appeared on the MTV TV series Two-A-Days while he was an assistant coach at Hoover High School in Alabama.
Pruitt won three national championships (2009, 2011 and 2012) while at Alabama. He won a fourth title at Florida State in 2013.
The Rainsville, Alabama native was a finalist for the 2013 and 2016 Broyles Award, given each year to the best college football assistant coach.
Pruitt’s teams put up impressive defensive numbers, often ranking in the top 10 in the country in points and yards per game.
2013: Florida State: 1st in points per game, 3rd in yards per game
2014: Georgia: 25th in points per game, 18th in yards per game
2015: Georgia: 9th in points per game, 8th in yards per game
2016: Alabama 1st in points per game, 1st in yards per game
2017: Alabama: 1st in points per game, 2nd in yards per game
No college team Pruitt has coached for has had a losing record. Those teams are 130-21 overall (73-15 in conference).
He has also had success on the recruiting trail, bringing in 11 five-star recruits (six as the primary recruiter) and 28 four-star recruits (15 as primary). Elite Pruitt recruits who have found success in the NFL include Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He has landed recruits from 12 different states, including 15 from Florida, 15 from Alabama and two from Tennessee.
He also coached All-American and Butkus Award-winning linebacker Reuben Foster, as well as current NFL stars Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Dre Kirkpatrick, Lamarcus Joiner and Telvin Smith.
Between high school state titles and collegiate-level championships, Pruitt won six championships in ten years (2004-13)
His first job was a P.E. teacher for kindergarten through second graders. His father, Dale, was his high school coach at Plainview High School in Rainsville.
Pruitt and his wife, Casey, have three sons, Ridge, Flynt and Jayse. Flynt, whose full name is Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, is named after two former Alabama linebackers: Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster. Jayse plays quarterback and Jacksonville State University in Alabama.