Tennessee football strength Craig Fitzgerald is leaving for the NFL. Initially reported GoVols247 and confirmed in a tweet by Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald interviewed for the New York Giants job earlier this week and has accepted a position with the team.
Fitzgerald is well-respected in the college football world and is currently making $625,000 a year with the Vols, good enough for third highest in the country with only Iowa's Chris Doyle and Ohio State's Mickey Marotti making more.
This coming year would have been Fitzgerald’s third year with the program if he chooses to stay in Knoxville. Last year, he turned down an offer from his alma mater Maryland and it was implied by Jeremy Pruitt that he turned down an offer to replace Scott Cochran at Alabama this offseason.
Coach Pruitt has been highly complementary of Fitzgerald during his time, showing high satisfaction with the work that Fitzgerald has during his time in Tennessee.
This will create an interesting situation for the Vols when they do find a new strength coach, as whoever replaces Fitzgerald and the rest of the new strength staff will not be able to have any type of physical communication with the players until mid-April at the earliest to the coronavirus outbreak.
Fitzgerald came to Tennessee after four seasons working with the Houston Texans as the head strength coach. Before taking position in Houston, Fitzgerald also served the head strength coach in the Penn State and South Carolina football programs for two and three years, respectively.
He also serves as the director of strength and conditioning at Harvard, where he oversaw 41 varsity sports. Before Harvard, Fitzgerald worked as an assistant strength coach at Maryland, his alma mater.
This follows an offseason of high turnover where the Vols have already three new hires and two coaches in different roles. Fitzgerald will be the third Tennessee coach to head to the NFL this spring following Kevin Sherrer and Chris Rumph.
This article was updated to reflect the confirmation of the story by Fitzgerald after the time of publication