If Jeremy Pruitt is the head coach of the Tennessee Vols in 2021, he’ll have a much different looking coaching staff.
The Vols currently need an offensive line coach and a defensive line coach. It’s possible that other coaches will need to be replaced, too.
Wide receivers coach Tee Martin and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer both have contracts that expire at the end of January. Neither has been renewed this offseason.
Quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke has been a lightning rod for criticism over the last couple of years for the lack of development among Tennessee’s quarterbacks. It’s certainly possible that he’s replaced this offseason.
Here’s a look at how I think Pruitt’s staff could shake out in 2021 if he returns.
Note: This isn’t a dream staff for Pruitt, it’s what seems most likely given the circumstances.
Offensive coordinator — Jim Chaney
I think Chaney returns in 2021. The Vols are already paying out enough buyout money.
Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator — Russ Callaway
I’ve mentioned Callaway for this job several times. Callaway is currently an offensive analyst at LSU, but thanks to their recent hires of Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas, it seems unlikely Callaway will get an on-field role in Baton Rouge.
Running backs coach — Jay Graham
I don’t think Graham is going anywhere. He’s known Pruitt for a long time and contrary to rumors, he gets along fine with the UT head coach.
Wide receivers coach — Montario Hardesty
Hardesty, a former Vols running back who was a graduate assistant under Pruitt (and an off-field assistant for Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic) is currently the wide receivers coach at Charlotte. If Martin leaves, it would be nice to replace him with a former Vol.
Tight ends coach — Joe Osovet
Osovet is probably pretty loyal to Pruitt. I don’t think he will go anywhere. I’d like to see him more involved with the offense in 2021. Osovet is considered a wizard when it comes to RPOs.
Offensive line coach — Marcus Johnson
I think Phillip Fulmer is going to have a lot of input on this hire (he’s reportedly sitting in on interviews). I could see Fulmer calling up David Cutcliffe and asking for some suggestions. If that’s the case, Cutcliffe would likely recommend Johnson, who played at Ole Miss under Cutcliffe and coached at Duke under Cutcliffe. Johnson is currently the offensive line coach at Missouri.
Defensive coordinator/secondary — Derrick Ansley
There are rumors that Ansley would like out of Tennessee, but I’m not sure I’d read too much into that. Coaches always want job security and right now things aren’t very secure on Rocky Top. Ansley is still under contract, though, so I don’t see him leaving that money on the table just to “get out”. I think he returns in 2021.
Linebackers coach — Chad Staggs
If Pruitt is wise, he’ll look outside of the Alabama coaching tree to make this hire. Staggs is a former graduate assistant at South Carolina under Steve Spurrier who is currently the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Coastal Carolina.
Defensive line coach — Nathan Ollie
Ollie was a graduate assistant at Tennessee under Butch Jones, so he’s familiar with the program. When Brady Hoke took over as Tennessee’s interim head coach in 2017, Ollie became the interim defensive line coach. He then spent the 2018 season as the defensive line coach at Eastern Kentucky (under former Vols tight end coach Mark Elder). Ollie was the Philadelphia Eagles’ assistant defensive line coach for the past two seasons.
Outside linebackers coach — Shelton Felton
Felton has only been on staff one season at Tennessee. There’s no reason to think he’ll leave or will be replaced.
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