Jeremy Pruitt’s staff at Tennessee is going to have a much different look in 2021.
The Vols currently need a defensive line coach and an offensive line coach.
Wide receivers coach Tee Martin and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer both have contracts that expire later this month. Neither contract has been extended.
Pruitt hired former Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele — a former UT football player — this week to serve as an on-field defensive assistant. It’s unclear at this point what role Steele will fill, though it seems likely that he’ll coach linebackers (where he has the most experience) if Niedermeyer, as expected, doesn’t return.
Those might not be the only positions that Pruitt has to address.
Football Scoop’s John Brice, who used to cover Tennessee for Rivals and 247Sports, reported on Tuesday that other Vols assistants have talked to programs about leaving UT.
From Football Scoop:
The Vols have two assistant coaches on expiring contracts, wideouts coach Tee Martin and linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer, and, sources confirmed to FootballScoop, other Vols assistant coaches have spoken with additional college football programs about leaving Rocky Top to join their staffs.
I wouldn’t be surprised if quarterback coach Chris Weinke is one of the coaches trying to leave. Weinke probably sees the writing on the wall (he hasn’t proved to be a very good quarterbacks coach) and it’s possible he’s being proactive and looking for his next opportunity.
The only other assistant that I think could be looking around would be defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, who could also have NFL opportunities.
If Ansley were to leave, Pruitt could easily slide Steele over to defensive coordinator and the program would probably be better off (Steele is one of the better defensive coordinators in college football).
Pruitt’s certainly had an alarming amount of staff shakeup during his first few years on Rocky Top.
But you know who else has also had a lot of staff turnover?
Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Now, that’s not to compare Pruitt to Saban. It just illustrates how winning football games can change perception.
Maybe in 2021 Pruitt can finally get over the hump and change the way his assistant coaching moves are viewed each offseason.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports