The Tennessee Vols are set to fill their final on-field coaching vacancy by hiring North Texas special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler.
Ekeler has extensive experience as an assistant coach, including stops at Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, USC, Indiana, Nebraska, LSU, and Oklahoma (where he was a graduate assistant on staff with UT head coach Josh Heupel).
The new Tennessee assistant will bring tremendous energy to the Vols’ coaching staff. He’s also a solid recruiter, as evidenced by a story from NFL linebacker Will Compton.
Ekeler went full send during my recruitment to Nebraska – putting a tattoo on his body of my name
Absolutely loved him as my LB coach at Nebraska. Congrats to Tennessee 🍻
— Will Compton (@_willcompton) March 2, 2021
Ekeler obviously knows what he’s doing on the recruiting trail.
But don’t label him as a “great recruiter”. Ekeler feels like that’s a label reserved for coaches who aren’t good at anything but recruiting.
Here’s what Ekeler told Dawg Nation in 2016 about coaches labeled “great recruiters”.
People talk about hiring great recruiters; I think that’s an absolute joke. If you’re labeled that, 99 percent of the time that means you can’t coach a lick. That’s a fact. There are very few exceptions. Ed Orgeron is a fantastic recruiter and he’s probably the best defensive line coach of them all. The guy is big-time. It’s great to recruit 5-stars, but then they come in and play like 2-stars. It’s too bad that’s how this profession is, but that’s part of the deal now.
“It’s not about recruiting, it’s about evaluating. That’s one of the things I learned from Ed Orgeron. It doesn’t matter if he’s a 2-star or a 5-star, it’s how you evaluate it and what you think you can do with him. That’s what I learned from him. Again, you recruit them. But there’s only about five players in the country that are totally different than everybody else. Everybody else can fall into a similar category. At that point it’s about developing and teaching. It’s about evaluating and developing your talent. And that’s a fact.”
Ekeler is spot on with this take. One of Tennesee’s biggest issues over the last 10 years has been signing great players, only to see them never develop while in Knoxville.
We saw it a lot during the Butch Jones era, and we even saw it during the Jeremy Pruitt era.
Getting great talent on campus is key. But that talent is useless if it doesn’t get properly developed.
The hope is that Tennessee’s new staff will do things differently than past coaching staffs. It sounds like Ekeler is exactly what the Vols need.
Featured image via AP