Butch Jones' most important offseason hire has already begun to work toward 2017 goals
Butch Jones has already made some major changes to his Tennessee coaching staff this offseason.
Replacing offensive coordinator Mike DeBord with tight ends coach Larry Scott will likely garner the most headlines in Knoxville. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez’s departure and the arrival of Charlton Warren from North Carolina have been met with praise and with potential coaching moves coming at both offensive and defensive lines along with the linebacker coaches position, more change could be coming before the offseason ends on Rocky Top.
Despite all the shuffling of assistants, no other hiring will be as critical to Jones’ success or failure as that of new director of strength and conditioning Rock Gullickson, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams.
“He is passionate about his work, a tireless worker, detail-oriented and has a tremendous track record of developing and motivating players to reach their maximum potential,” Jones said of Gullickson after he lured away the NFL strength coach.
He’d better be, considering all the injuries Tennessee suffered last season.
Every college football team suffers injuries, but what Tennessee went through in 2016 was ridiculous. The following list of players missed games due to injury last season: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cameron Sutton, Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Shy Tuttle, Dylan Wiesman, Jashon Robertson, Brett Kendrick, Jack Jones, Kahlil McKenzie, Danny O’ Brien, Cortez McDowell, Malik Foreman and Alexis Johnson, just to name a few.
Spoke to a Tennessee coach who told me he's never seen anything close to this in terms of injuries in more than 20 years of coaching.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) October 18, 2016
We will never know if transitioning to a new strength coach last offseason led to so many injuries, however, entering Year Five of the Jones era, the roster should be up to SEC standards considering the level at which Jones has been able to recruit. Now with the veteran Gullickson leading the strength and conditioning program on Rocky Top, Tennessee should be better equipped to handle the rigors of SEC football.
At least, that’s the plan heading into a critical season that could determine the fate of Jones’ future on Rocky Top.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) January 23, 2017