The Tennessee Volunteers football staff was completed and primed to zero in

on spring practice with the hiring Wednesday of Larry Slade to serve as

Phillip Fulmer's defensive backfield coach.

The secondary coach at Texas A&M for the past five years, Slade will be in

charge of a Vols unit that returns all but one starter from last year's

national championship team.

"I am really excited about the addition of Larry Slade to our staff,"

Fulmer said. "He brings great experience to our staff with a background of

being in outstanding programs at Texas A&M and Washington. Larry also is a

really fine family man who is a good example for our young men."

Fulmer added, "In (running backs coach) Woody McCorvey and Larry Slade, we

were able to bring in top quality men for the vacancies on our staff. With

a highly capable staff in place, we are ready to begin organizing for the

start of spring practice."

Tennessee, whose 13-0 record in 1998 produced a national title and a second

straight Southeastern Conference crown, will begin spring drills March 24

and conclude with the Orange and White game April 24.

Slade, 47, is a native of Pecham, N.C., who was twice named All-West

Virginia while playing at Shepherd College in the early 1970s. He was named

Little All-America honorable mention in 1971 and later inducted into the

Shepherd College Hall of Fame. He received his degree in biology with a

minor in English.

His coaching career began at his alma mater with subsequent stops at

Richmond, Howard, Southern Illinois, Washington and Maryland. His six-year

stay as secondary coach was highlighted by a national championship season

in 1991, during which the Huskies ranked first in NCAA statistics for pass

efficiency defense.

Slade left Washington in 1992 to serve as defensive coordinator for

Maryland, a post he held for two seasons before moving to Texas A&M. His

1997 Aggies secondary gave up only three touchdowns by passing, tops in the

nation.