Interim coach Kevin Steele taking steps to finalize Tennessee's defensive coaching staff
While there currently is a ton of uncertainty on Rocky Top at the moment, it appears interim Tennessee coach Kevin Steele is working hard to finalize a defensive coaching staff that Vol Nation can be proud of heading into the 2021 season.
Steele just arrived in Knoxville, following a successful run as Gus Malzahn’s defensive coordinator at Auburn, but he was the one picked to serve as acting head coach following the school’s decision to fire Jeremy Pruitt.
Following Pruitt’s dismissal, in addition to the firings of defensive assistants Brian Niedermeyer and Shelton Felton and the mid-season firing of former defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, there are several positions to fill on the defensive staff on Rocky Top.
According to John Brice of FootballScoop, Steele is attempting to hire longtime Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Gardner in addition to promoting off the field Tennessee assistant Kevin Simon to a full-time role within the program. Simon played linebacker for Tennessee and hails from the same high school as current Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o.
One item of note, it’s unclear at this time if Steele has the authority to hire coaches to join his Tennessee staff, something noted this week by both Brice and Jimmy Hyams of Knoxville-based radio station WNML.
If Steele manages to keep defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley on staff, which is certainly not a given at this point, Tennessee could have a defensive coaching staff that rivals just any staff in the SEC in 2021.
Not bad for a guy that just got the job this week.