If Jeremy Pruitt is going to return as the Tennessee Vols‘ head coach in 2021, there’s an offensive hire he needs to make immediately.
I’ve mentioned several times in recent weeks that it would be wise for Pruitt to try to bring Carolina Panthers offensive assistant DJ Mangas to Knoxville.
Mangas was at LSU in 2019 with Joe Brady and was a big part of the Tigers’ historic season. He’s been described as Brady’s “right-hand man”.
It appears, however, that Mangas is on his way back to Baton Rouge. Mangas and Panthers quarterbacks coach Jake Peetz are reportedly set to interview with Ed Orgeron this week.
While this likely means that Mangas would be out as an option for the Vols, it might actually free up another great option for Tennessee.
Football Scoop recently reported that LSU analyst Russ Callaway was going to be promoted to an on-field role at LSU. But if Peetz and Mangas are hired, there won’t be room for Callaway.
I think Pruitt should swoop in a steal Callaway from LSU and make him Tennessee’s quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator.
Callaway, who previously served as the offensive coordinator at Samford, was an analyst at Alabama in 2011 and 2012 (which means he was there at the same time as Pruitt). He also attended Oconee County High School in Georgia (could give UT a nice recruiting connection).
At LSU this past season, Callaway worked daily with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger (who was also the Tigers’ quarterbacks coach). Callaway is well thought of in the coaching community as a bright, young innovative offensive mind (Samford led the FCS in passing yards under his guidance in 2018).
“He’s very smart, very intelligent, knows football and I think the most unique thing about him is that he’s worked on both sides of the ball,” said Iowa running backs coach Derrick Foster, who worked with Callaway at Samford. “He has it. He has the tools. He has the ability. He has the mindset and can coordinate an offense. He understands how to cater to his players. And he’s full of energy. I loved being around him, enjoyed coaching with him and can’t say enough about him.”
This is the type of hire the Vols need to make. Most of the quarterbacks coaches who are having great success these days are young guys who seemingly come out of nowhere.
If Pruitt makes this hire, the Vols’ offense and quarterback play would absolutely be better in 2021.
Of course, it should be noted that Chris Weinke is still under contract as UT’s quarterbacks coach. But I don’t expect him to return in 2021 (if he does it would be a major mistake).
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports