The Tennessee Vols added two assistant coaches to Josh Heupel’s coaching staff on Thursday.
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that Tennessee is hiring Rice offensive coordinator Jerry Mack as the program’s new running backs coach and former Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner as UT’s new defensive line coach.
Sources: Tennessee is hiring Rodney Garner as the defensive line coach. He was last at Auburn and brings extensive SEC experience, including stints at Georgia and Tennessee.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 12, 2021
Sources: Rice OC Jerry Mack expected to be the next RB coach at Tennessee. Mack is former head coach at North Carolina Central. He also served as QB coach and associate head coach at Rice.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 11, 2021
Mack has been the offensive coordinator at Rice since 2018. Prior to his time there, he was the head coach at North Carolina Central from 2014-17. Mack is a Memphis native who should strengthen the Vols’ recruiting efforts in the Bluff City.
As for Garner, it’s not a surprise that he’s returning to Tennessee (where he coached from 1996-1997). Garner is a long-time SEC assistant (most recently at Auburn, his alma mater, and also Georgia) who has plenty of recruiting connections in the south and is well-regarded as a talent-developer.
It might seem a bit odd that Tennessee hired a defensive line coach before hiring a defensive coordinator, but this is a move that was long-expected. Garner’s name has been mentioned to defensive coordinator candidates as someone who would likely be on staff.
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