Kevin Beard has been brought in as Butch Jones’ wide receivers coach, replacing Zach Azzanni, who left for the same position with the Chicago Bears.
His coach from his college playing days at Miami, Larry Coker, says Tennessee made a good choice.
“I’m really happy for him being at a place like Tennessee,” Coker told Saturday Down South. “He was an outstanding player for me and really just a super young man. I think Butch has a really good hire in Kevin, and he will work hard and coach well and will be able to recruit.”
Beard is a year removed from being Georgia’s offensive quality control coach and spent 2014-2015 on his alma mater’s coaching staff at Miami. Beard was the Hurricanes wide receivers coach in 2015 alongside recently promoted Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott, who was the interim head coach following Al Golden’s dismissal.
Beard played wide receiver at Miami during a time that the Hurricanes were making a climb back into the national spotlight from 1999-2003.
After red-shirting in 1999 and playing mostly special teams in 2000, Beard started playing a role within the Miami offense on the 2001 national championship team. During the championship season he had 25 receptions for 409 yards, and caught four catches for 41 yards in the BCS national championship game victory over Nebraska.
Beard was a two-sport high school standout in football and basketball coming from Plantation High School in Plantation, Fla.
Beard told reporters during his first media session as Tennessee’s wide receivers coach that his college recruiting process had Miami and Tennessee as two of his top three teams. That was a time in which both the Hurricanes and Vols were in the mix for national championships on an annual basis. Beard decided to stay close to home.
Coker was his head coach from 2001-2003.
“I’ve seen him grown up since he was with me and I’m happy for him, especially to go to a place like Tennessee.”
Beard was in the mix of a lot of talented players within the 2001 Miami offense that produced 512 points — 42.6 per game. It was an offense that featured quarterback Ken Dorsey and running backs Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Najeh Davenport and Frank Gore. Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow II made up the tight end position and Andre Johnson was the star wide receiver.
Amid all of that talent, Beard played his role and he made his presence as a leader.
“He was a slot receiver and we moved him around and isolated him some,” Coker said. “But he was basically a slot-type receiver. He was a good high school player in the Miami area and did a great job for us at Miami. He was an inside receiver and very smart, we loved to have him in motion.
“He was a vocal guy, not a yell and scream guy, but a leader by example. Kevin was always on time and worked hard. As a coach, I really liked that.”
“I didn’t really know if he would get into coaching or if he wanted to do that,” Coker said. “I was gone at Miami by then, but I am glad to see this as a career for him and a great opportunity at Tennessee.”