Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt has at least two assistant coaches to replace this winter.
The Vols need a new offensive line and defensive line coach. This is the second offseason in a row that Pruitt needs a new defensive line coach.
Pruitt hired Jimmy Brumbaugh last winter to replace Tracy Rocker (who left for South Carolina).
Four games into the 2020 season, Pruitt surprisingly fired Brumbaugh.
“Coach Brumbaugh done a really nice job for us, worked his tail off,” said Pruitt earlier this season. “Sometimes, from a philosophical standpoint, things are just not a fit, and it just didn’t work out for us. So I decided to do that and I’m going to coach the d-line for the rest of the season.”
Pruitt needs to nail his hires this offseason. His job depends on it.
There are a few obvious defensive line coach options for Pruitt.
Bo Davis — Detroit Lions defensive line coach
This is the most obvious option for Pruitt. Davis is one of the best defensive line coaches in the nation. And he’ll likely need a new job this offseason with an impending staff change on the way in Detroit.
Davis worked with Pruitt at Alabama from 2007-2010, so they obviously have a relationship.
There are a couple of potential roadblocks with trying to hire Davis.
For one, he ran into trouble with the NCAA during his last stint at Alabama. Davis was hit with a show-cause penalty that expired in April 2019. Davis, however, should be fine to work in the SEC. The problem here would be whether or not Tennessee is comfortable hiring Davis (especially with the program in the midst of an internal investigation regarding impermissible benefits).
Another roadblock for Tennessee could be LSU.
The Tigers are also looking for a new defensive line coach. Davis is a former LSU defensive lineman. Would he want to return to Baton Rouge?
Possibly. But it’s important to note that Davis has a working relationship with Pruitt. He doesn’t have one with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.
Tosh Lupoi — Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach
This another name that gets tossed around anytime the Vols have a defensive staff opening (which is often under Pruitt).
Lupoi is a tremendous coach/recruiter, but he’s also had trouble with the NCAA.
And then there’s the question of whether or not Lupoi wants to return to college football.
Vols Wire’s Dan Haralson reported in November it would take an “offer he cannot refuse” for Lupoi to return to college football.
Haralson speculated that Lupoi might want a defensive coordinator title. I’m not sure that would be a wise idea. Lupoi was Alabama’s defensive coordinator after Pruitt left and things didn’t go well. Lupoi was stripped of defensive playcalling duties by Nick Saban early in the 2018 season. Lupoi was reportedly “overwhelmed during practices”.
Lupoi is one of the best recruiters in the country, but it wouldn’t be wise for Pruitt to break the bank and make wild promises to lure him to Knoxville.
Nathan Ollie — Philadelphia Eagles assistant defensive line coach
This wouldn’t be an exciting hire, but it would make sense on several levels.
Ollie was a graduate assistant at Tennessee under Butch Jones from 2015-2017, which means he worked with Derek Barnett. He served as the Vols’ interim defensive line coach when Brady Hoke became the interim head coach.
After leaving Tennessee, Ollie served as Eastern Kentucky’s defensive line coach, before landing with the Eagles.
The biggest upside here is that Ollie is a young, energetic coach who would likely do well on the recruiting trail. I also think his experience in the NFL is invaluable and would be a major asset when it comes to developing players at the college level.
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