Pruitt officially announces coaching staff hires - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Pruitt officially announces coaching staff hires

Posted: Updated:

KNOXVILLE (– Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt officially announced the 10 members of his coaching staff and three football staff positions on Thursday.  

The Vols' 10 on-field assistant coaches bring a wealth of championship experience and a proven track record for preparing players for the NFL.
Collectively, the new Orange and White assistant coaches' resume includes:

  • Seven national championships
  • 21 conference championships
  • Over 50 NFL Draft Selections
  • Over 75 All-Americans
  • Over 50 years of experience in the SEC

It's clear Pruitt has assembled one of the nation's top staffs. The staff includes:

  • Tyson Helton, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
  • Will Friend, offensive line coach
  • Robert Gillespie, running backs coach
  • David Johnson, wide receivers coach
  • Brian Niedermeyer, tight ends coach
  • Kevin Sherrer, defensive coordinator/inside linebackers
  • Chris Rumph, co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers
  • Charles Kelly, special teams coordinator/safeties coach
  • Terry Fair, cornerbacks coach
  • Tracy Rocker, defensive line coach

"As I said when I was introduced in December, I want good people on our staff, first and foremost, and that's what these men are," Pruitt said. "They will be teachers, leaders and mentors to our student-athletes. They bring Southeastern Conference, NFL and championship experience to our staff. I'm excited to have this staff in Knoxville with me."

Additionally, Pruitt officially announced the hiring of three other members of his football staff:

  • Craig Fitzgerald, director of strength and conditioning
  • Drew Hughes, director of player personnel
  • Todd Watson, director of football operations

Quick Bios on Each Assistant Coach: 

Offensive Assistant Coaches

Tyson Helton – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks 
Helton joins the Tennessee staff after an impressive two years as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Southern California, where he developed Sam Darnold into an All-Pac-12 First Team honoree and prospective first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Helton helped lead the Trojans to victory in the 2016 Rose Bowl and a berth in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. Helton, the brother of Trojans' head coach Clay Helton, played quarterback at Houston from 1996 to 1999 and got his start in coaching at Hawai'i as a graduate assistant and special teams coach before making stops at Memphis, UAB, Cincinnati and Western Kentucky. At UAB, he mentored quarterback Joe Webb – the NCAA's first player to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. At WKU, he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2014-15, guiding a Hilltopper offense that ranked third in the nation in scoring and fourth in passing yards. He mentored two-time Conference USA MVP Brandon Doughty.

Will Friend – Offensive Line Coach 
Friend comes to Rocky Top following a three-year stint as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Colorado State, where he led an offense that ranked 10th in the nation and first in the Mountain West in total offense (501.0 ypg) in 2017. Prior to his time at CSU, Friend served four years as the offensive line coach at Georgia, where he coached four NFL Draft picks on the Bulldogs' line. Friend has also made coaching stops at UAB and Gardner-Webb, and was a graduate assistant at Georgia. He was a four-year starter and two-time All-SEC guard at Alabama from 1993 to 1997.

Robert Gillespie – Running Backs Coach 
Gillespie will enter his sixth season on the Tennessee staff after joining the Vols in 2013 as the running backs coach before being promoted to recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach in 2015. Known as one the country's top recruiters and running back developers, Gillespie coached John Kelly – who was the only Power 5 running back to lead their team in rushing yards and receptions, and Ty Chandler, who was named a third-team All-SEC selection by Phil Steele. Gillespie also coached NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara with the Vols as well as 1,000-yard rushers Jalen Hurd and Rajion Neal. Before coming to Rocky Top, Gillespie made coaching stops at West Virginia, Oklahoma State and South Carolina after standout playing career at Florida.

David Johnson – Wide Receivers Coach 
Johnson comes to Tennessee after helping guide one of the nation's most prolific offenses at Memphis the past two years following nearly 20 years of experience as a high school and college coach in Louisiana and Mississippi. As Memphis' passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2016-17, Johnson turned former walk-on wide receiver Anthony Miller into a consensus All-American and the Tigers' all-time leading receiver. Johnson also has spent time as a college assistant at Tulane, where he guided running backs and tight ends, and Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. Johnson was the head coach at St. Augustine High School in Louisiana in 2009-10, winning back-to-back district titles at the prep powerhouse, while coaching future NFL All-Pro Tyron Mathieu.
Brian Niedermeyer – Tight Ends Coach 
Niedermeyer joins Pruitt's staff with the Volunteers after working closely with the new Tennessee coach at Alabama and Georgia. Niedermeyer served as the assistant director of recruiting operations with the Crimson Tide in 2017 after his role as a defensive graduate assistant in 2016. He also was a defensive graduate assistant coach, working under Pruitt, at Georgia in 2015. A native of Eagle River, Alaska, he was the wide receivers coach at East Texas Baptist University in 2014 and also worked on the staffs at Miami (Fla.) and Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Niedermeyer played tight at UAPB.

Defensive Assistant Coaches

Kevin Sherrer – Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach 
Sherrer has spent the last four seasons as the outside linebackers coach at Georgia, where he helped lead the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff National Championship game this fall. Sherrer coached Roquan Smith, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the Butkus Award winner in 2017. Prior to his time in Athens, Sherrer was the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at South Alabama in 2013 and served as the director of player development at Alabama from 2010-2012. Sherrer was three-year letterwinner at tight end at Alabama from 1993-95 and was an accomplished high school assistant coach in the state, including replacing Pruitt as defensive coordinator at prep powerhouse Hoover High School.

Chris Rumph – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach 
Rumph, a four-year letterwinner at linebacker at South Carolina in the early 1990s, spent the last three years as the defensive line coach at Florida, serving as co-defensive coordinator in 2017. He has 15 years of experience as a defensive assistant at the FBS level, including stops at Texas, where he coached NFL first-round pick Malcom Brown, and Alabama, where he won back-to-back BCS National Championships as the defensive line coach from 2011 to 2013. Rumph also has coached at Clemson, Memphis and South Carolina State.

Charles Kelly – Special Teams Coordinator/Safeties Coach
Kelly joins Tennessee following five seasons at Florida State, including four as the Seminoles' defensive coordinator. Kelly teamed with Pruitt at FSU in 2013, serving as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator during the undefeated national championship season. Kelly replaced Pruitt as defensive coordinator at Florida State in 2014 and helped lead the Noles to the College Football Playoff. Kelly's defenses finished in the Top 25 in total defense the last three seasons and he coached several All-Americans and NFL Drack picks, including defensive backs Jalen Ramsey, Ronald Darby and Derwin James as well as defensive end DeMarcus Walker. Kelly also spent seven years as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech, serving as interim defensive coordinator in 2012 and coaching the defensive backs and special teams during his tenure.

Terry Fair – Cornerbacks Coach
Fair returns to his alma mater following a three-year stint as the cornerbacks coach at Colorado State. A first-round selection by the Detroit Lions in the 1998 NFL Draft, Fair led the NFL in kick return yards and was first-team All-NFL as a rookie. After playing six seasons in the NFL, Fair began coaching defensive backs at Phoenix College before joining the Volunteers' staff as a defensive quality control assistant in 2013-14.

Tracy Rocker – Defensive Line Coach 
A renowned defensive line coach in the SEC and the 1988 SEC Player of the Year, Rocker has found success at nearly every stop during his nearly 20-year collegiate and professional coaching career. Rocker has coached NFL first-round picks DeMarcus Ware, Jamaal Anderson, Nick Fairley and Peria Jerry, as well as future pros Greg Hardy and Osi Umenyiora in coaching stops at Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Troy. Rocker spent the 2014 through 2016 seasons as the defensive line coach at Georgia after spending three years with the Tennessee Titans. Rocker was a two-time All-American at Auburn, winning the 1988 Outland Trophy and Lombardi Trophy. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004

Powered by Frankly