Alabama’s Jeremy Pruitt reportedly nearing deal to coach Tennessee Vols

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee is close to finalizing a deal with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt that would make him the Volunteers’ next head football coach, according to multiple reports Wednesday night.

ESPN reported just before 10 p.m. that the two sides were “in the process of trying to finalize a deal.”

National college football reporter Brett McMurphy reported that Tennessee assistants have been informed to come back from recruiting trips in anticipation of Pruitt being announced.

If Pruitt is hired, it would put an end to a nearly month-long saga that began when John Currie, Tennessee’s athletic director at the time, fired Butch Jones on Nov. 12 with two games remaining on the schedule in Jones’ fifth season.

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Since then, the university has tried to hire multiple coaches and gone through an athletic director transition — former Vols football coach Phillip Fulmer took over Friday — making Tennessee a national punchline.

Still, Pruitt would bring an impressive track record to Knoxville. The 43-year-old native of Rainsville, Ala., about 60 miles southwest of Chattanooga, has engineered the nation’s second-best defense this season after his 2016 Crimson Tide defense was ranked first nationally.

Alabama is the No. 4 seed for the College Football Playoff and will face top-seeded Clemson in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal on New Year’s

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