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Sunseri Sealed: UT hires Bama coach

As first reported by govols247, Tennessee on Friday morning hired Alabama assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri to be its new defensive coordinator.

New Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri

The UT sports information department confirmed the hiring later in the morning, attaching quotes from Sunseri and Vols head coach Derek Dooley in its press release.

“The chance to work with Derek Dooley, who has been around championships and knows what it takes to build an elite program, combined with the rich tradition of the University of Tennessee makes this opportunity so exciting to me,” Sunseri’s statement said. “I am fired up to work with all of the young talent on the defensive side of the ball, and I can’t wait to get up to Knoxville and coach them.”

Dooley was quoted in the release saying Sunseri will be an “exceptional fit” for the Vols.

“Sal has had unparalleled success over the last decade in not only contributing to team and unit success, but also in his ability to motivate and develop elite individual talent,” Dooley said. “His combination of defensive knowledge, recruiting success, high-energy personality, ability to connect with players, and personal integrity and character make him an exceptional fit for Tennessee.”

UT hasn’t released details of Sunseri’s memorandum of understanding, but sources told govols247 that the coordinator — who was named 247Sports’ 2011 National Recruiter of the Year — has signed a three-year pact worth an average of $800,000 annual.

Sunseri, who came to Alabama in 2009 after coaching the Carolina Panthers’ defensive line, is a former college linebacker who came to Pitt as a walk-on and left as a team captain and All-American.

Prior to joining the Panthers, Sunseri was a linebackers coach and special teams coach at LSU under current Alabama boss Nick Saban in 2000 before handling the same responsibilities in 2001 at Michigan State.

Sunseri, who has been a candidate for coordinator’s and head coaching positions at previous schools in the recent past, has two sons currently playing college football. Oldest son Tino is a quarterback at Pitt, and younger son Vinnie is a defensive back at Alabama.

Multiple sources told govols247 on Friday that Vinnie Sunseri is expected to remain at Alabama and play for the Tide — where he was a contributor on one of the nation’s best defenses as a true freshman.

The staff at govols247 will continue to monitor this developing story, proving up-to-the-minute updates on the CheckerBoard.

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