The decision by Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt to hire Tee Martin as his wide receivers coach this past off-season was a move that was met with widespread approval from UT fans.
Martin, the quarterback who led Tennessee to its last national championship in 1998, was finally coming home to join the Vols’ coaching staff. It was a great story.
But it was actually more than just a great story. With the hiring of Martin, the Volunteers got a position coach with nearly a decade of coaching experience, plenty of playing experience and a reputation as an elite recruiter.
And that’s still not the most important thing Martin brought to Tennessee.
Nearly every college head coach talks about creating a family atmosphere. That’s the line that’s constantly fed to recruits. But few coaches can actually create an authentic family atmosphere.
Tennessee’s achieved that under Pruitt and it has a lot to do with Martin.
Knoxville is obviously important to Martin. And because of that, he’s making sure to integrate his family into Tennessee’s football program, which helps create the authentic family atmosphere that so many coaches covet.
It’s something that senior wide receiver Marquez Callaway has noticed. Callaway told reporters on Tuesday that a lot of players on the team look up to Martin, saying “His family is great, his kids are great; they come up there all the time to see us, so once you know what a coach is for you, that’s when you start playing harder.”
Martin regularly posts photos to his Instagram story of Tennessee’s wide receivers over at his house for dinner. It’s clear that Martin is heavily invested in the restoration of the Vol football program. And he’s heavily invested in the lives of his players.
Butch Jones wanted to create a family atmosphere on Rocky Top, but it proved to be a dysfunctional family at best.
Jeremy Pruitt arrived at UT with the same plan. Fortunately for him, he has Tee Martin to help him achieve his plan.
So far, it seems to be working out as well as anyone could’ve hoped.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports/Randy Sartin USA Today Sports