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Tennessee’s Defensive Coaching Staff: Former Champions, Former Player Successes

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Pruitt’s entire coaching career has been on defense, so his staff on that side of the ball had to be coaches he trusts will implement his style of defensive football. This group is littered with SEC experience, recruiting ties all over the south and — most importantly — national championship rings. Here’s a look at the defensive assistants you will see in Neyland Stadium on game days.

Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers — Kevin Sherrer

Another Alabama graduate, Sherrer’s ties with Pruitt go back to their days coaching defense at Hoover High School. After serving as the defensive coordinator at South Alabama in 2013, Mark Richt brought Sherrer onto the Georgia staff in 2014 at Pruitt’s recommendation. When Kirby Smart was hired to replace Richt in 2016, Sherrer was kept on the staff. He has helped recruit and coach elite Georgia players like Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Carter. Sherrer was likely a candidate to replace Pruitt on Nick Saban’s staff, but will be coaching defense in Knoxville instead.

Career Stops
1996-96: Tuscaloosa County HS (Asst.)
1998-2000: Alabama (Grad Asst.)
2001-04: Spain Park HS (DB Coach)
2005-06: Hoover HS (Asst.)
2007-09: Hoover HS (Defensive Coordinator)
2010-12: Alabama (Director of Player Development)
2013: South Alabama (Defensive Coordinator/DB Coach)
2014-17: Georgia (OLB Coach)

Co-Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers — Chris Rumph

When Dan Mullen took over at Florida, retaining Rumph as the defensive line coach seemed like a likely option, but Rumph bolted when Pruitt came calling. His latest role was as Florida’s interim defensive coordinator when Jim McElwain was fired and Randy Shannon was named the interim head coach. Pruitt and Rumph worked together during Alabama’s national championship seasons in 2011 and 2012.

Career Stops
1997: South Carolina (Grad Asst.)
1997-2001: Calhoun County HS (Head Coach)
2002: South Carolina State (DB Coach)
2003-05: Memphis (OLB Coach)
2006-10: Clemson (DL Coach)
2011-14: Alabama (DL Coach)
2014: Texas (DL Coach/Asst. Head Coach)
2015-17: Florida (DL Coach/Co-defensive Coodinator)

Defensive Line — Tracy Rocker

Rocker has made stops in several different leagues after playing two seasons on the Redskins’ defensive line, most recently as the defensive line coach and associate head coach at Georgia from 2014-16. It is worth noting Rocker is another member of Pruitt’s staff with a national championship ring, one he acquired while coaching at Auburn, his alma mater, in 2010. That defensive line included Lombardi winner Nick Fairley, who recorded the best single-season sacks mark ever for the Tigers that year.

Career Stops
1992-93: Auburn HS (Defensive Coordinator)
1994-96: West Alabama (DL Coach)
1997-2001: Troy State (DL Coach)
2002: Cincinnati (DL Coach)
2003-07: Arkansas (DL Coach)
2008: Mississippi (DL Coach)
2009-10: Auburn (DL Coach)
2011-13: Tennessee Titans (DL Coach)
2014-16: Georgia (DL Coach/Asst. Head Coach)


Cornerbacks — Terry Fair

Fair is a name Vol fans will certainly recognize from his time as an All-SEC corner in 1996-97 for Tennessee. Fair joins Will Friend in coming to Knoxville from Colorado State, where he has served as defensive backs coach for the last three seasons. A first round pick in 1998, Fair played eight seasons in the NFL.

Career Stops
2013-14: Tennessee (Grad Asst.)
2015-17: Colorado State (DB Coach)

Safeties/Special Teams — Charles Kelly

Kelly and Pruitt were together during Florida State’s national championship in 2013 when Kelly was the Seminoles’ special teams coordinator. Kelly replaced Pruitt as the team’s defensive coordinator and served in that role until this season, when he was not retained by Willie Taggart. The Auburn grad will come to Tennessee as the Vols’ safeties coach and special teams coordinator.

Career Stops
1990-92: Central HS (Asst.)
1993: Auburn (Asst.)
1994: Jacksonville State (RB Coach)
1995: Jacksonville State (DB Coach)
1996: Jacksonville State (Offensive Coordinator)
1997-98: Jacksonville State (Defensive Coordinator)
1999: Henderson State (Defensive Coordinator)
2000-01: Eufaula HS (Defensive Corodinator/LB Coach)
2002-05: Nicholls State (DB Coach/Defensive Coordinator)
2006-07: Georgia Tech (Special Teams Coordinator)
2008-12: Georgia Tech (DB Coach)
2013: Florida State (Special Teams Coordinator/LB Coach)
2014-17: Florida State (Defensive Coordinator)

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