Vols shuffle staff, add Ansley as defensive coordinator
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is spending big to give coach Jeremy Pruitt a more experienced staff with some familiar faces.
Pruitt announced staff changes Friday that included the hire of Derrick Ansley as a defensive coordinator who will handle all defensive calls. Pruitt had called Tennessee's defensive signals last season while Kevin Sherrer served as defensive coordinator.
"He brings a lot of experience, (has) coached a lot of really good players," Pruitt said. "Probably when I start a sentence, he can finish it."
Ansley agreed to a three-year contract worth $1 million annually. He's joining the staff a month after Tennessee lured offensive coordinator Jim Chaney away from Georgia with a contract that will pay him $1.5 million each of the next two seasons and $1.7 million in 2021.
Sherrer remains at Tennessee coaching special teams and inside linebackers as part of the shuffling within the staff. Chris Weinke, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Florida State in 2000, moves from running backs coach to quarterbacks coach. David Johnson will coach running backs after working with receivers last season.
Pruitt also said Friday that Tee Martin, the quarterback of Tennessee's 1998 national championship team, would coach receivers and hold the title of passing game coordinator and assistant head coach. Tennessee announced last month that Martin was joining the staff without specifying the role he would fill.
Tennessee invested heavily in upgrading its staff after going 5-7 in Pruitt's debut season.
"I think we're committed to having the best staff we can possibly have to help get us where we want to be," Pruitt said.
Martin is receiving a $450,000 salary to go along with the seven-figure deals given to Chaney and Ansley. Tennessee had paid departing assistants Tyson Helton $1.2 million, Charles Kelly $330,000 and Terry Fair $255,000 last season.
Helton left his position as Tennessee's offensive coordinator to become Western Kentucky's head coach. Alabama announced Friday that Kelly has joined the Crimson Tide's staff as associate defensive coordinator and safeties coach, after he had been Tennessee's special teams coordinator and safeties coach last season. Fair coached Tennessee's cornerbacks in 2018.
Each of Tennessee's two new coordinators has previous ties to the program.
Chaney was Tennessee's offensive coordinator on the staffs of Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley from 2009-12. Chaney also was Tennessee's interim head coach for a season-ending victory over Kentucky after Dooley was fired in 2012. Ansley coached Tennessee's defensive backs in 2012.
Pruitt noted the men on his staff have coached over 190 NFL draft picks, including 37 first-round selections. Tennessee didn't have a single player invited to the NFL scouting combine that starts March 1.