Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin finalized his coaching staff with the announcement of four hires, two for each side of the ball.
On the offensive side, former Auburn running backs and special teams coach Eddie Gran will serve as special teams coordinator and running backs coach for the Vols, while former Southern Miss running backs coach Frank Wilson will coach the wide receivers.
On the defensive side, Lance Thompson comes to Knoxville as a linebackers coach after coaching at Alabama in 2008. Willie Mack Garza will also join Kiffin’s staff as defensive backs coach after stints at North Dakota State and Texas Christian.
Kiffin previously added offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Chaney, quarterbacks coach David Reaves and tight ends and tackles coach James Cregg .
The hiring of Lane Kiffin’s father, Monte, as defensive coordinator and Ed Orgeron as assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach was announced shortly after Kiffin accepted the head coach position.
“As I said in the first press conference, this staff was going to take some time. It wasn’t about doing it fast, it was about doing it right,” Kiffin said. “With the staff now complete, not only do we have the best recruiters in the SEC, but some of the best in the country. Two of the coaches (Orgeron in 2004 and Thompson in 2008) have been recognized as the Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year. It was imperative to not only find great recruiters, but great recruiters that knew the conference.
“To be able to take South Carolina’s recruiting coordinator, Mississippi State’s recruiting coordinator, Alabama’s best recruiter and Auburn’s best recruiter over the past 10 years was a great accomplishment for us. Once again, I would like to thank Mike Hamilton, the athletic department and our donors for making this possible.”
Below is a full representation of the new coaching staff:
1) Eddie Gran, A native of Escondido, Calif., comes to Tennessee with more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience. He spent the last 10 seasons on Tommy Tuberville’s staff at Auburn after coaching stints at Mississippi, Idaho State, Cincinnati, Southeast Missouri State and California Lutheran, his alma mater.
Gran also served as a graduate assistant at East Carolina and Miami, where he worked with Orgeron.
Seven NFL running backs tutored under Gran at some point in their careers, among them Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Rudi Johnson and Deuce McCallister. He also produced an SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in Auburn kicker John Vaugn, who won the award in 2006. That same season, Gran’s special teams units led the SEC in kickoff coverage, field goal percentage, PAT percentage and punting.
2) Wide receivers coach Frank Wilson arrives at Tennessee having spent his entire coaching career in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. He spent the 2008 season mentoring the running backs at Southern Miss and the previous three seasons at Ole Miss under Orgeron coaching running backs and assisting with special teams.
Wilson coached NFL back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to back-to-back 1,000-yards seasons and Mico McSwain to Freshman-All-America honors while at Ole Miss.
3) Lance Thompson comes to Knoxville after two seasons as a linebackers coach at Alabama and three seasons as a defensive coordinator at Central Florida. He had previous coaching tenures at LSU, Alabama and two different stints with Georgia Tech.
He was a part of two of the most successful Crimson Tide teams in recent memory as he helped the 1999 team to the SEC Championship and an Orange Bowl win before helping lead the 2008 team to a perfect 12-0 regular season and an SEC west crown. In 2005, his Central Florida defense produced two first-team All-Conference USA selections and helped the Knights to the Eastern Division Championship. Thompson was a recruiting coordinator for Nick Saban at both LSU and Alabama.
4) Willie Mack Garza has spent the last four seasons at the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at North Dakota State. Prior to that, he coached one season at Tarleton State University, three at Texas Christian and four at Western Michigan. The Horned Frogs played in a bowl game all three seasons of Garza’s tenure and won the 2002 Conference USA Championship.
During his final season at Western Michigan, the Broncos’ defense ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense, ninth in total defense and 13th in pass defense.
5) Jim Chaney takes over the offensive coordinator position for the Vols after spending the last three seasons as an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach with the St. Louis Rams.
Prior to that, the Holden, Mo., native spent nine seasons as the offensive coordinator at Purdue, where he coached six units that ranked in the top-10 nationally in total offense. He also tutored NFL quarterback and former Heisman Trophy Finalist Drew Brees throughout his collegiate career.
He broke into coaching at Cal-State Fullerton in 1985, where he coached in various capacities until he left for Wyoming in 1993.
6) David Reaves, a native of Columbia, S.C., and Kiffin’s brother-in-law, spent the previous five seasons in various capacities under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.
He started as a graduate assistant and later became the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator. In both 2006 and 2007, Reaves’ quarterbacks combined to throw for over 3,000 yards.
7) James Cregg comes to Knoxville after spending the last two seasons as an offensive line assistant for the Oakland Raiders. Prior to that, he coached the defensive linemen at Colgate from 2000-03, where in his final season the team advanced all the way to the NCAA Division I-AA Championship game.