Tennessee Volunteers Coaching Staff 2023

    When he came from UCF to Knoxville, Josh Heupel promised a fast-paced, high-octane offensive attack. Now the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, Heupel has assembled a mix of veterans on defense and promising young coaches on offense as he attempts to take Tennessee to the next level.

    Here’s everything you need to know about the Volunteer coaching staff.

    Tennessee Volunteer Coaching Staff

    Head Coach, Josh Heupel

    Heupel is known as an offensive wizard who runs a “super spread” system. Heupel’s offenses are marked by incredibly wide splits for the receivers, who often line up over 15 yards from the ball.

    Heupel’s offenses at UCF were among the best in the country and while the quarterbacks get many of the accolades, it all goes through the running backs. His teams spread defenses out and then run it effectively against lighter boxes.

    This is Heupel’s third year at Tennessee. With Hendon Hooker, Heupel’s Volunteers went 11-2 in 2022. Heupel’s journey to Knoxville is as follows:

    • 2003-04: Oklahoma, Graduate Assistant
    • 2005: Arizona, Tight Ends
    • 2006-14: Oklahoma, Quarterbacks, Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
    • 2015: Utah State, Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
    • 2016-17: Missouri, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
    • 2018-20: UCF, Head Coach
    • 2021-present: Tennessee, Head Coach

    Defensive Coordinator, Tim Banks

    Tim Banks has been a defensive coordinator at the FBS level for over 15 years, dating back to his time with Central Michigan. He doesn’t have much SEC experience but had strong defenses at Penn State and Illinois.

    Banks’ defensive style complements Heupel’s offensive style well. He’s aggressive and has his defenses play downhill. Banks worked his way up from a graduate assistant at Bowling Green to his current position at Tennessee, making stops at these schools along the way.

    • 1996: Bowling Green, Graduate Assistant
    • 1997-98: Ferris State, Defensive Backs
    • 1999-2000: Bowling Green, Running Backs, Defensive Backs
    • 2001-2002: Memphis, Outside Linebackers, Defensive Backs
    • 2003-2006: Maryland, Inside Linebackers, Defensive Backs
    • 2007-2009: Central Michigan, Defensive Coordinator
    • 2010-2011: Cincinnati, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs
    • 2012-2015: Illinois, Defensive Coordinator/Secondary
    • 2016-2020: Penn State, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
    • 2021-present: Tennessee, Defensive Coordinator

    Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, Joey Halzle

    Joey Halzle is a rising star in the coaching world, rising quickly through the ranks to take over as offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Halzle has been Heupel’s right-hand man at every stop, following him everywhere from Oklahoma to Utah State to Missouri to UCF to Tennessee.

    This is Halzle’s first year as offensive coordinator, but he’s worked with Heupel’s quarterbacks for multiple seasons.

    • 2009-2014: Oklahoma, Offensive Quality Control Assistant/Graduate Assistant
    • 2015: Utah State, Offensive Analyst/Assistant Quarterback Coach
    • 2016: Missouri, Offensive Analyst/Assistant Quarterback Coach
    • 2019-2020: UCF, Offensive Analyst/Quarterbacks
    • 2021-Present: Tennessee, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

    Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers, Mike Ekeler

    Mike Ekeler is one of the most well-respected linebacker coaches in the SEC. He’s had several stops around the country and, in more recent years, has picked up some special teams experience.

    Since taking over for the special teams at Tennessee, Ekeler’s units have been strong and he’s becoming one of the better special teams coaches in the SEC.

    • 1999-2001: Omaha (Nebraska) Skutt High School, Volunteer Coach
    • 2002: Manhattan (Kansas) High School, Assistant Coach
    • 2003-2004: Oklahoma, Defensive Graduate Assistant
    • 2005-2007: LSU, Defensive Graduate Assistant/Defensive Intern
    • 2008-2010: Nebraska, Linebackers
    • 2011-2012: Indiana: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
    • 2013: Southern Cal, Linebackers
    • 2014-2015: Georgia, Inside Linebackers/Defensive Special Teams Coordinator
    • 2016: North Texas, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
    • 2017-2018: North Carolina, Linebackers
    • 2019: Kansas, Inside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator
    • 2020: North Texas, Special Teams Coordinator
    • 2021-present: Tennessee, Outside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator

    Tight Ends, Alec Abeln

    Alec Abeln has been one of Heupel’s top graduate assistants for years and he’s finally gotten his chance to move to an on-field position. Tennessee’s tight ends have a unique job in that they often play out wide as receivers.

    Offensive Line, Glen Elarbee

    Glen Elarbee is one of the top offensive line coaches in the country and has put offensive linemen in the NFL each of his two seasons at Tennessee. Originally from Georgia, Elarbee played at Middle Tennessee State and coached multiple stints there earlier in his career.

    Running Backs, Jerry Mack

    Originally from Memphis, Jerry Mack was an extremely successful head coach at North Carolina Carolina Central before moving up the FBS level as offensive coordinator at Rice. Mack has years of experience coordinating offense and brings that to a talented running back room at Tennessee.

    Wide Receivers, Kelsey Pope

    Kelsey Pope spent some time as a receiver in the NFL before moving to the college coaching ranks. He was passing game coordinator at Garner Webb before becoming an offensive analyst at Tennessee.

    After two years on the Tennessee coaching staff, Pope took over as receivers coach.

    Defensive Line, Rodney Garner

    Rodney Garner has spent the entirety of his 34-year coaching career in the SEC. He flipped from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side of the ball when he moved from Tennessee to Georgia in 1998.

    After 15 years with the Bulldogs and another eight with Auburn, Garner rejoined the Tennessee coaching staff in 2021.

    Linebackers, Brian Jean-Mary

    Brian Jean-Mary has been all over the country and has been an elite recruiter at every stop. He’s coached as far south as USF and Texas and as far north as Michigan, impacting the linebacker room at every stop.

    Jean-Mary has been on the Tennessee coaching staff since 2021.

    Secondary, Willie Martinez

    Another coaching veteran on defense, Willie Martinez, has been coaching for nearly 40 years. This is Martinez’s second stint at Tennessee as he was assistant head coach under Butch Jones.

    Martinez was a long-time defensive coordinator at Georgia and is a highly respected defensive coach.

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