The Tennessee Vols defensive coordinator search is leaving no stone unturned at this point.
On Thursday evening, I put out an updated hot board. I think there’s a good chance that Tennessee’s new defensive coordinator will be one of the coaches I mentioned.
But I can’t completely rule out a wild card candidate out of left field.
So who could be an under-the-radar option for the Vols?
How about New Orleans Saints linebackers coach Michael Hodges?
The Saints have been solid defensively under Dennis Allen — and their assistants are routinely targeted by other teams/college programs (LSU recently tried to hire New Orleans defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen as their defensive coordinator) — which is why it wouldn’t be a shock to see Tennessee go down this road.
Hodges played college football at Texas A&M, where he was a walk-on before eventually receiving a scholarship. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior in 2011.
After his playing career was over, Hodges joined the Fresno State staff as a graduate assistant.
Here’s where there’s a slight connection to Vols head coach Josh Heupel.
Nick Toth, who most recently served as Heupel’s special teams coordinator at UCF, was the defensive coordinator at Fresno State at the time.
After Fresno State, Hodges joined the staff at Eastern Illinois. In 2016, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. Hodges left Eastern Illinois for New Orleans after the 2016 season.
The Cincinnati Bengals tried to hire Hodges after the 2019 season. But the Saints promoted him from assistant linebackers coach to linebackers coach to keep him in New Orleans.
I think there are several better options for Tennessee. But this is a name to keep an eye on in the coming days.
Featured image via USA TODAY/Saints