Per sources with direct knowledge, UT moved forward in talks with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to the point that both potential salary and projected coaching staff assignments entered into the discussions. Pruitt has been the defensive coordinator at Alabama for the past two seasons.
Fulmer's efforts were weighted heavily, as it turns out, toward hiring a defensive-minded coach, concentrating toward the end on Pruitt, Georgia's Mel Tucker and Auburn's Kevin Steele. Sports CFB insider Pete Thamel, Pruitt has emerged as the front runner for the job. He's the sixth former Saban assistant to take a head coaching position in the SEC, following Dooley, Will Muschamp, Jimbo Fisher, Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart. This year, Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense and yards per play.
Pruitt?also is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the SEC.
Pruitt would also be the second former Saban assistant to take the head coaching position at Tennessee.
Willie Taggart receives loud ovation at Florida State basketball game
He was also the head coach at Florida International for six seasons, posting a 27-47 record before getting fired. Taggart emerged as FSU's top choice after coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M last week.
Fulmer, the legendary former Vols head coach, was hired as AD.
After the Schiano deal fell apart, Tennessee's coaching search ranged from Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Duke's David Cutcliffe, Purdue's Jeff Brohm, NC State's Dave Doeren and Washington State's Mike Leach until athletic director John Currie was sacked last week.
For many, the twists and turns throughout the search for Butch Jones' replacement were emblematic of the internal turmoil that has plagued the football program.
The 43-year-old assistant had also previously worked for the Tide as a defensive assistant from 2007-12 and as a graduate assistant in 1997, as well as a high school assistant throughout the state of Alabama from 1998-2006.