The Tennessee Vols lost two defensive coaches on Monday, but Jeremy Pruitt worked quickly to find their replacements.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is heading to South Carolina, while outside linebackers coach Chris Rumph is joining the Houston Texans’ staff.
Pruitt is reportedly hiring Colorado defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh to replace Rocker.
Akron outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton, who served as a defensive quality control coach at UT in 2018, is expected to replace Rumph.
Losing Rocker wasn’t much of a surprise. His contract expired on January 31 and it was long-rumored that he’d be transitioning to an off-the-field role. Rocker was a good developer of talent, but he wasn’t exactly a tenacious recruiter.
Rumph, who also served as Tennessee’s co-defensive coordinator, reportedly wanted to distance himself from the recruiting aspect of the job as well, which is why he made the jump to the NFL.
Pruitt’s two new hires should be “grinders” on the recruiting trail.
Felton, who has plenty of recruiting connections in Georgia from his time as a high school head coach there, comes from a similar background as Pruitt. He played college football in the state of Alabama (Rocker was actually his position coach for one season at Troy) and spent plenty of time coaching at the high school level.
Tennessee’s new outside linebackers coach was put on the recruiting trail by Tennessee in late 2018 (when offensive coordinator Tyson Helton left for Western Kentucky), so he has some experience recruiting under Pruitt.
Brumbaugh, who previously served as Colorado’s defensive line coach/co defensive coordinator, is a college football lifer who has some experience in the SEC. Brumbaugh coached at Kentucky (alongside Vols defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley) from 2013-2016. He was also an assistant strength coach under Les Miles at LSU from 2006-07.
(Side note: Brumbaugh was Derek Dooley’s defensive line coach at Louisiana Tech from 2008-09.)
When Brumbaugh was hired by Colorado, he was lauded for his recruiting abilities and his development of future NFL players like Bud Dupree and Chandlers Jones.
Vols new DL coach pic.twitter.com/zYOHUkG1wp
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) February 10, 2020
Hiring Brumbaugh and Shelton will give Tennessee some staff continuity thanks to their previous connections to UT.
But perhaps most importantly, these hires will give the Vols some more juice on the recruiting trail.
Tennessee did extremely well during the 2020 recruiting period, finishing with a top 10 class.
But the Vols should have an even more tenacious recruiting staff for the 2021 cycle.
Brumbaugh and Shelton, combined with the additions of Jay Graham and Joe Osovet (who was promoted to tight ends coach), should give Tennessee a group of “grinders” that will give it their all when it comes to recruiting.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports