The Tennessee Vols recently hired Chris Weinke to be the program’s new running backs coach and according to his former college roommate, it was a smart move by Jeremy Pruitt.

Jarad Moon, Weinke’s center at Florida State, recently told Saturday Down South’s Dan Haralson that Tennessee’s newest assistant is a “serious football mind” who has football in his DNA. Moon added that “everyone listens to him”.

Just from that statement alone, Weinke seems like a perfect fit with Pruitt and the Vols’ new coaching staff. It’s been abundantly clear during Pruitt’s first couple of months on the job that he’s all about X’s and O’s. And the same can be said of his staff.

Perhaps that’s why Pruitt decided to move on from previous running backs coach Robert Gillespie.

While Gillespie was a fan favorite among Vol fans, there’s no denying the players he coached didn’t quite live up to their potential at Tennessee.

Weinke’s Reputation Proceeds Him

Weinke, who led Florida State to a national championship in 1999, didn’t have a very productive career in the NFL. In his one full season as a stater (his rookie year in 2001), he threw for just under 3,000 yards. He had 11 touchdowns against 19 interceptions — not exactly a good ratio.

(The Panthers finished 1-15 in 2001, by the way.)

The Minnesota native played in the NFL for seven seasons, but he never played in more than six games in a season after his rookie year.

While Weinke’s pro career didn’t go as planned, his career as a coach and player developer has been much more successful.

At IMG Academy, where Weinke served as director and head coach from 2010-2014, he’s developed a reputation as someone who knows how to get the most out of players.

According to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who worked out at IMG Academy prior to the 2011 NFL Draft, Weinke is “perfect at what he does”. Newton also said that Weinke “knows what buttons to push with anybody from 7-years-old all the way up to me.”

Tennessee Vols

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told USA Today that what Weinke did for Newton was tremendous, saying “It was very fortunate for us that Cam decided to go to IMG and develop that relationship with Chris. It really paid off.”

It’s obvious that Weinke has a passion for developing players. And that goes along with what Pruitt said he was looking for in assistant coaches — great teachers.

I was a bit skeptical at first of the Weinke hire — simply because Nick Saban didn’t promote him at Alabama (Weinke served as an offensive analyst in Tuscaloosa last year).

But after letting the hire marinate for a few days, I think Pruitt knocked it out of the park by brining Weinke on board.

Not only are the Vols getting a coach with tremendous recruiting ties to IMG Academy, a program loaded with future NFL talent, but they’re also getting a coach that possesses a deep passion for helping players reach their full potential.

You can’t ask for much more than that if you’re a Vols fan.

Featured image via Sports Illustrated


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