Two assistant coaches and a support staff member were introduced Thursday morning.
Defensive line coach Steve Stripling, wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni and defensive quality control assistant Terry Fair are three members of the Volunteers' new coaching staff, assembled by head football coach Butch Jones. The three additions come with high recommendations and look forward to working at UT.
Stripling, who worked alongside Jones for three years at Cincinnati, coached a defensive line that had a winning record in the battle up front.
His philosophies were also a major reason why in the 2011 season the Bearcats led the NCAA in tackles for loss (8.62), finished second in sacks (3.46) and placed sixth in rushing defense (96.23 yards per game).
He looks to pound the same areas with his new unit as he did at his previous school.
“We talk to our young men about three things,” Stripling, who will also be the assistant head coach for UT, said. “One is accountability and that first starts off the field and on the field and in the classroom. Technique is our second area. We’re going to be very technical in (the) placement of our hands and eyes and how we address blocks. The third thing is effort, playing hard.”
Stripling, who also coached defensive line at Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Louisville, will come in to a defensive line unit that will consist of five seniors.
“I think it helps in leadership,” he said. “The young men I’ve talked to have been outstanding. They are all in. Now it’s just the process of working together and getting the job done.”
The last assistant coaching position to be filled for the Vols was the wide receiver coaching position, and the staff could not have been more pleased with the decision to hire Azzanni.
In his last three previous seasons he worked with Florida, Western Kentucky and Wisconsin’s wide receiver units, but looks forward to coaching the school that has been termed “Wide Receiver U.”
With the loss of junior wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson (who decided to forgo a senior season with the Vols and enter the NFL draft), Azzanni said he is looking for personality in the Vols' receiving core next season.
“After 15 years of doing this I want personality,” Azzanni said. “I want guys that have different personalities and bring a little bit of a different edge to the field. I don’t need a 6-foot-5 guy or a 5-foot-8 guy. I need a mix of both. Guys that can play in a no huddle up-tempo offense.
“Personality is big these days," he continued. "If you bring in the right or wrong one it can change your program.”
Azzanni and the team have gotten to know each other since he arrived for the first time in Knoxville on Jan. 3 after Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl game.
“We’ve had a couple team meetings and it’s been great,” he said. “They’re juiced up and they love the vibe and energy that’s going on. There’s a renewed life, which there should be with a change.”
Azzanni is also one of those coaches out on the road for the Vols right now, as they try to put together a Top 20 recruiting class by the Feb. 1 signing day.
He also looks forward to the Tennessee football traditions.
"I'm looking forward to the 'Vol Walk,'" Azzanni said. “I’m a college football fan. I love the pageantry to it all and that’s why I don’t have any inspirations to go to the NFL.”
Jones also added former Vol great, Fair, as one of his dozen support staff members.
While at UT from 1994-97, he started all four years at defensive back and went on to play six seasons in the NFL.
“This is home for me being on this side,” Fair, who had 11 career interceptions playing for the Vols, said. “I’ve always envisioned myself being a coach and am very appreciative of Coach Jones for the opportunity. I’ve been blown away by (Jones') approach and how he’s handled everything. He’s the ultimate player's coach.”
Jones has assembled a staff that he believes is one of the best in the country and now it’s time for them to hit the ground running and get their players sold on the program they are running.