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Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt provides instruction during a recent practice on Haslam Field.

University of Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt has agreed to a contract extension through the 2025 season, according to an announcement Thursday from athletic director Phillip Fulmer.

When Pruitt was hired in December 2017, he took over a program that had just experienced its first eight-loss season in history, but he has provided stability and optimism with 5-7 and 8-5 records his first two seasons. Last season's team won its final six games, including a 23-22 comeback victory over Indiana at the Gator Bowl, and the Volunteers have the No. 6 class of 2021 commitments, according to the 247Sports.com team rankings.

The extension terms include a compensation jump from $3.8 million this year to $4.2 million in 2021.

"I'm excited that this extension gives Jeremy the runway to continue to build on the momentum and energy we have around our football program coming out of last season," Fulmer said in a UT release. "He has made excellent progress entering just his third year and clearly realizes there is much work still to be done. This extension secures him to continue his efforts to return our program to a championship level and shows our commitment to him, his staff, this team and the future of the Tennessee Volunteers.

"Jeremy and I were close to finalizing his extension early this year, but once the pandemic hit and we learned more and more about its potential impact on the department, Jeremy informed me that he preferred not to accept a raise for this year. His focus quickly shifted to his players and supporting them through a period of interruption and uncertainty. His selflessness and concern for the greater good has been neat to observe through all of this."

Since Pruitt's first spring in 2018, Tennessee has produced 77 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll accolades, including a school-record 37 last fall. The football program also tallied a 3.21 GPA this past spring, its highest mark since 2007.

"My family and I are grateful for the unwavering commitment the University of Tennessee has made to us," Pruitt said. "We have worked hard to build our program the right way in a short amount of time, and there is still much work to be done. It's a privilege to coach and mentor the outstanding young men who represent the Tennessee Volunteers.

"We are excited about the future and will continue to build a program Tennessee fans can be proud of."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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