The Tennessee football team has introduced several new faces to its coaching staff ahead of the 2021 season. The new staff includes award-winning and experienced coaches that have seen success at the highest levels of collegiate football.
While most of the coaches are entering their first season with Tennessee, they all share the same goal for the team: getting Volunteer football back on top.
Among the many new positions filled on Tennessee’s coaching staff was the top job, as Josh Heupel took over in January as the Vols’ head football coach.
Heupel is no stranger to college football, having firsthand experience as a player as well as a coach. He came to Tennessee after a three-season run with UCF, finishing with an impressive record of 28-8. Tennessee fans can rest easy knowing that Heupel has a proven track record that includes two conference championships with Oklahoma and UCF.
"I am thrilled to be coming to Tennessee," Heupel said. "I understand that Volunteer fans are hungry for a return to the top that they so richly deserve, and it is my goal and commitment to bring a championship back to Rocky Top."
Heupel — the 27th head coach in program history — will attempt to turn the Vols around after they went 3-7 last season.
The Heupel era of Tennessee football has been marked by the complete overhaul of the team’s coaching staff. In total, seven coaches will make their Tennessee debut this season. The Vols will have new coaches over their wide receivers, offensive line, quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers, in addition to its offensive and defensive coordinators.
Alex Golesh steps in as Tennessee’s new offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Golesh brings 18 years of coaching experience and knowledge to Rocky Top. The former UCF co-offensive coordinator and tight end coach worked closely with Heupel in the past and was a major key to UCF’s successful offense.
"I'm fired up to be here. It's such a great opportunity for me and my family and to reunite with coach Heupel,” Golesh said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to come to Knoxville and coordinate the offense and get them going in the right direction. I couldn't be more excited.”
Joey Halzle’s coaching career goes hand in hand with Heupel’s, as this season will be their 13th together. Halzle is a five-time conference champion, winning two as a quarterback and three as a coach with Oklahoma.
Glen Elarbee is widely regarded as one of the best O-line coaches in the nation. Elarbee brings 19 years of experience to Tennessee, including two at UCF with Heupel (2018-2020).
Rounding out the Vols’ offensive staff are wide receivers coach Kodi Burns and running backs coach Jerry Mack.
Former Penn State coach Tim Banks takes over as Tennessee’s new defensive coordinator. Banks has helped build some of college football’s top defensive groups at Penn State, Cincinnati and Central Michigan. Over his career, Banks led his teams to four conference championships and 11 bowl game appearances.
Brian Jean-Mary joins Banks on the defense as Tennessee’s linebackers coach. The former Michigan assistant brings 21 years of coaching experience to Rocky Top. Jean-Mary has a reputation of elevating the teams he’s been involved with to the next level, including four conference championships and 16 bowl game appearances.
Second time around
In addition to the new coaches, defensive line coach Rodney Garner and secondary coachWillie Martinezeach return for their second stint in Knoxville.
Garner joins Tennessee’s staff as one of its most experienced coaches, with 31 years under his belt. Prior to coming back to Tennessee, Garner was Auburn’s D-line coach.
“It's good to be back on Rocky Top. It's exciting for me and my family,” Garner said. “It's something that we've talked about. It's sort of like life is coming full circle, being able to come back here.”
Garner’s career speaks for itself, with six conference championships, 32 bowl game appearances, seven NFL Draft first-round picks and 10 All-American players.
Martinez comes back to Tennessee after a three-year run with Heupel at UCF. During that stretch, the Knights appeared in a bowl game each season. Martinez — a 30-year coaching veteran — has led his teams to 20 bowl game appearances and seven conference championships.