UT coaching search: Day 2

UT coaching search: Day 2

Football

UT coaching search: Day 2

KNOXVILLE – The first day is in the books of Tennessee’s coaching search to replace the departed Tyson Helton.

Helton is now Western Kentucky’s head coach and is filling his staff with people he is close to. Former UAB quarterback and graduate assistant Bryan Ellis is set to be Helton’s offensive coordinator, both were at UAB when I worked for the Blazer football program. Former UAB head coach Neil Callaway could also be an option to join Helton and Ellis at Western Kentucky.

Hiring people close is a theme for Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee and could continue as he searches to fill Helton’s vacancy that he left behind.

Even with the Early National Signing Period nearing – Dec. 19-21 – the coaching search could take some time, but could also be quick.

The search will end with what Pruitt wants to do philosophically going forward on offense.

One coaching candidate in the mix to join Pruitt’s staff told Vols Wire that “I just don’t know which direction Jeremy is going to go in.”

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama

Sep 22, 2018; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) talks with quarterbacks coach Dan Enos during a timeout at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide defeated the Aggies 45-23. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

If Pruitt’s direction is more of a pro-style attack, then current Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos would be a good fit, but he will not be available to join UT’s staff until after presumably the College Football Playoff.

Enos replaced Butch Jones as Central Michigan’s head coach in 2010.

Nick Taylor, a mutual friend with Nick Saban’s wife, Terry, who has helped with the Nick’s Kids Foundation and has discussed Butch Jones’ standing at Alabama with Vols Wire, discussed his knowledge of numerous coaching names with the state of Alabama’s background that have been discussed in Tennessee’s coaching search.

Regarding Enos, Taylor told Vols Wire that he is a “great a coach with great knowledge and the best thing Jalen Hurts did was to stay with him this year and learn from him.”

One other source told Vols Wire is “to really watch for Enos” in the coaching search.

Hoover High School 2017

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

If Pruitt wants a more fast-paced offense with tendencies of retaining some pro-style sets, then current Auburn offensive coordinator and former Hoover High School assistant Chip Lindsey is an ideal fit. Lindsey coached under Rush Propst at Hoover in 2007 and sources tell Vols Wire that the two former Hoover coaches were together following the Iron Bowl.

Taylor says that “Chip is a great coach and is very interested in the Tennessee job, but wants to see what transpires at Auburn.”

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Auburn

Sep 29, 2018; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn (left) and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey (right) watch the team warm up prior to the game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Vols Wire has learned from sources that Propst would take a job on Tennessee’s coaching staff if asked, but the question remains what direction does Pruitt want to go in?

Propst and his current Colquitt County High School team play in a semifinal playoff game this week and if they win then they will play in a state championship game Dec. 12. Propst will then decide if Colquitt County will play a national game on Dec. 22 against St. Thomas Aquinas.

Current UAB offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent is another name that has surfaced. Vincent coached at Spain Park High School in Hoover from 2003-05. Taylor says “Bryant is a good coordinator, but would be surprised if he left Bill Clark right now.”

Another option in the Birmingham area is Thompson High School head coach Mark Freeman. Thompson is where Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia, plays at. A package deal for Pruitt to land Taulia on the recruiting trail along with having Freeman join UT’s staff is a “long shot to bring in Freeman and Tua’s brother,” says Taylor.

A final name that has surfaced with Alabama ties with Pruitt is former Florida head coach and current Michigan wide receivers coach Jim McElwain. Taylor views McElwain “as a coach that depends on others to provide him with a quarterback and would not be a good fit at Tennessee.”

Will Friend

Will Friend at the Tennessee at Auburn game. Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Hiring within is also an option for Pruitt. A pair of options are his current assistant to the head coach John Lilly and offensive line coach Will Friend.

No matter which direction or the the timetable that Tennessee’s coaching search goes in, the best fit is the best option as Pruitt continues to rebuild UT’s program.

One coaching candidate in the search told Vols Wire that Pruitt “does not need a concepts guy, but a guy that can lead.”

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