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Vols' Pruitt sets replacement timeline for DL coach; NFL assistant a top target

Jeremy Pruitt fired his co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, Jimmy Brumbaugh, sometime during the aftermath of the Vols' first home loss to Kentucky since 1984 and worst loss to the Wildcats in 85 years.

Now Pruitt, who's said he's handling coaching duties of the defensive line, indicated he will wait until season's end – mid-December – before hiring the replacement for Brumbaugh.

“No, it's something we're going to do when the season's over with,” Pruitt said Wednesday on the SEC coaches' teleconference. “I like where our defensive line is headed right now. Again, obviously I wasn't happy with that position. I felt like we improved last week (against Alabama).

“Not that I know that it showed on the field all the time. I think we probably played against the best offensive line we've played this year. Watching the first two days of practice this week, I continue to see it. We've got to improve up there. We've got to be able to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage, create negative plays and affect the quarterback.”

One name who has emerged as a top candidate to replace Brumbaugh as the Vols' defensive line coach has been Bo Davis, multiple sources told Davis currently is on staff as the Detroit Lions' defensive line coach, and the future of the Matt Patricia era in Detroit has come under scrutiny this season. The Lions lost their first two games of the year but since have won three of four contests; they have a 12-25-1 record since 2018.

Davis and Pruitt have previously worked together at Alabama.

“I know they are best friends,” a source said of Pruitt's and Davis' relationship. “If he gets a guy from the NFL, I'd say it's (Davis).”

Pruitt fired Brumbaugh just eight months after he hired Brumbaugh away from Colorado with a two-year deal worth more than $1 million. Brumbaugh's move from Colorado to Tennessee came just before Mel Tucker left the Buffaloes to become head coach at Michigan State.

Pruitt has been consistently critical of the Vols' production this season along its defensive front. Tennessee's 10 sacks through five games, an average of two per game, ranks tied for 56th nationally and is middle of the pack in the SEC.

A year ago, the Vols amassed 34 sacks for 212 lost yards.

Tennessee (2-3) is open this week and returns to play at Arkansas on Nov. 7.