Tennessee Football: Four Things Brady Hoke Brings to Vols as Defensive Line Coach

Oct 25, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers fans outside Neyland Stadium prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 25, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers fans outside Neyland Stadium prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee football has a new defensive line assistant in former Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke. Here are four things he brings to the Volunteers.

In continuing his staff overhaul, Butch Jones made a splash assistant move by bringing in the 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year and 2008 MAC Coach of the year to head the Tennessee football defensive line.

Brady Hoke, who was head coach of the Ball State Cardinals from 2003 to 2008, the San Diego State Aztecs in 2009 and 2010, and the Michigan Wolverines from 2010 to 2014, will now head the unit, replacing Steve Stripling.

He was fired at Michigan in 2014 and spent this past year as the defensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks, where he was also fired along with the rest of the Mark Helfrich staff.

But Hoke has had success as an assistant coach, and there are many qualities he brings to the table for the Vols.

Years of experience dating back to the 1980s show a level of incredible success for Hoke, and Butch Jones likely knows that well.

Sure, he was a failure as a head coach at Michigan and as a defensive coordinator at Oregon. But as a defensive line coach, he succeeded at every stop.

That dates back to Yorktown, Grand Valley State, and Western Michigan. Now he brings those deep Michigan ties to the SEC.

And as a position coach in Knoxville, he could be a huge asset for Butch Jones and co.

Here are four things Brady Hoke brings to Tennessee football as the Vols’ new defensive line coach.

Jan 1, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half in the 2016 Outback Bowl against the Northwestern Wildcats at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 1, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half in the 2016 Outback Bowl against the Northwestern Wildcats at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Recruiting Reputation

This is a huge deal and one the Vols cannot take lightly. Although Brady Hoke’s teams got progressively worse during his time at Michigan, his talent actually was pretty good.

You saw that last year and this year with what Jim Harbaugh was able to do immediately with lots of that talent. Sure, he has recruited extremely well at Michigan himself, but the past two years, he was winning mostly with Hoke’s talent.

And this year he was a yard away from the national championship with that talent.

When he was with the Wolverines, Hoke secured two straight Top 10 classes, including a Top 5 class. It was only after the news of him being on the hot seat did his recruiting efforts take a tumble.

Fortunately for him and Tennessee football, hot seat talk will not be surrounding him. Butch Jones, of course, is another story.

Anyway, Hoke is clearly a great recruiter, securing the third best class in the Mountain West in 2011 for the San Diego State Aztecs before leaving for Michigan. By the way, the Boise State Broncos and TCU Horned Frogs were the other two schools to get better classes.

Hoke will give the Vols another recruiting pipeline into the Midwest, which is huge and perfect to counterbalance their pipeline into Florida with Larry Scott.

And Hoke complements his recruiting with something else that makes him a perfect fit for Tennessee football.

That brings us to our next major asset Hoke brings to Knoxville.

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a two-point conversion against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a two-point conversion against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. Ability to Scout Talent

It is oh so perfect to bring this up right now in light of what just happened.

But did you know that it was Brady Hoke, the defensive ends coach at the time, who pushed for the Michigan Wolverines to recruit Tom Brady in the 1990s?

That’s right.

Hoke went for Brady at a time when he could barely generate any interest. Before even Lloyd Carr and especially before any NFL scouts saw anything in Brady, Hoke was the guy who brought him in.

Maybe it’s because Hoke’s first name is the same as Tom’s last name.

Or, if you look at his history, it’s because he has an amazing eye for talent.

Hoke’s 2013 class, which was the best class he had while at Michigan, did not just have a bunch of stars that worked out.

He scouted a ton of talent in that class, and as a result, Jim Harbaugh was starting 13 players from that year alone on this past year’s team.

Of the seven highest ranked players from that class, only one contributed significantly this year. Hoke found the other guys that nobody else wanted.

They were blue-collar guys primarily from the Midwest, Michigan and Ohio to be exact, and they laid the foundation for what Harbaugh and Michigan want to do.

Joining Tennessee football, Hoke adds to Butch Jones’s reputation as a great talent scouter. That’s a huge plus for the Vols going forward. And he can also significantly help Jones in another area.

Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;  A Michigan Wolverines football helmet sits on the field prior to the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; A Michigan Wolverines football helmet sits on the field prior to the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

3. Head Coaching Experience

When Butch Jones added Larry Scott to his staff last year, this was a huge deal. Scott’s tenure as interim coach of the Miami Hurricanes would inevitably provide invaluable experience to the Vols.

This year, he added another guy with head coaching experience in Brady Hoke. And Hoke’s experience as a head coach is far more extensive, spanning 12 years to be exact.

That is huge because Jones now has two other guys who can fill in for him while he’s focusing on other things.

Steve Stripling added experience too as he was the interim coach twice for Jones and served as the associate head coach when Jones was away. But he had no experience running a college football program full-time.

Like Scott, Hoke doesn’t just have experience running a college football program full-time. They both have experience running a MAJOR college football program full-time.

Hoke ran the Michigan Wolverines and dealt with that rabid fanbase in Ann Arbor for four years. There is no doubt he can handle the pressure of filling in for Jones whenever he is needed.

As a result, this is a huge hire. With Stripling staying on staff anyway, Jones has three guys with real experience leading a program as a head coach, and he has two with full-time experience at major college football programs.

Combining that with Bob Shoop’s analytics, Jones has a real group of guys who should be able to fit in together.

And for Hoke, he has experience doing something else as a coach.

January 4, 2014; Newport Beach, CA, USA; General view of the Coaches Trophy during Auburn Tigers media day at the Newport Beach Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

January 4, 2014; Newport Beach, CA, USA; General view of the Coaches Trophy during Auburn Tigers media day at the Newport Beach Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4. Championship Experience at the Position He’s Coaching

Brady Hoke can flash something to the other Tennessee football coaches that only one other coach on the Vols’ staff can: a national championship ring.

Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen joins the defensive line coach as the only other guy on the list, but when he was part of the national champion Auburn Tigers in 2010, he was coaching safeties.

So Hoke is the only guy with the Vols who won a national championship coaching the position he is coaching right now. That says something.

He was part of the 1997 Wolverines team that went undefeated and won the Rose Bowl under Lloyd Carr, sharing the title with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

And we can’t forget that.

As a result, Hoke brings valuable championship experience to the Tennessee football roster and can add his input into what it takes.

Hoke also won a division title while with the Ball State Cardinals as a head coach, but that’s not as impressive since it was the one year that Butch Jones did not win the MAC title while he was coaching at Central Michigan.

When you add Jones’s experience winning conference championships with Hoke’s experience winning a national championship, though, you have a pretty solid combination.

And with Hoke, Jones has a staff member that can do a lot of things for the Vols.

He also brings national title experience at the position that requires the most intensity on the field, defensive line. So he should be able to get these guys motivated to go too.

All in all, this is a huge asset he brings to the program.

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