It looks as if new Tennessee Volunteers athletic director Phillip Fulmer is zeroing in on assistants from around the SEC to replace the recently fired Butch Jones as the Volunteers’ head football coach.

ESPN’s Chris Low reported earlier on Wednesday that a trio of SEC coordinators emerged as candidates for the vacant job. That list included defensive coordinators Jeremy Pruitt (Alabama), Mel Tucker (Georgia) and Kevin Steele (Auburn).

Now according to this report from Yahoo! Sports CFB insider Pete Thamel, Pruitt has emerged as the front runner for the job.

It’s interesting that all three candidates have ties to the Nick Saban coaching tree. But Pruitt is the one most connected to both Saban and the job in Knoxville.

The 43-year-old assistant played college ball at Middle Tennessee before transferring to Alabama.

After taking on a variety of coaching roles at both the high school and the college levels, Pruitt earned his first job as a defensive coordinator for Florida State in 2013. He also held the same position at Georgia from 2014-15 before moving on to the Crimson Tide.

It’s not yet known whether Pruitt will take the job. And a formal offer has not been made. Coming off a 4-8 season, Tennessee’s head coaching search has been an absolute dumpster fire. It led to the firing of former AD John Currie, only to see Fulmer head back to Knoxville after coaching the football program from 1992-2008.

Considering what we saw with the entire Greg Schiano mess and after many other candidates turned down the job, absolutely nothing is etched in stone here.

But Tennessee will have to make a decision here soon. It’s late in the process, and the new coach will seemingly already be working from behind to build a new staff and begin the recruiting process.