HOOVER, AL – Coming off a year when Tennessee beat Florida and Georgia yet didn’t play for an SEC Championship, fans approach the September 4th start date cautiously. When asked Monday if this year felt different from last season, Coach Butch Jones said, “no, I don’t ever believe in that.”
The players, meanwhile march towards the beginning of team practice. “We have the same mentality,” senior defensive back Emmanuel Moseley said.
But this Tennessee team isn’t the same as last season. And the mentality isn’t the same.
Jones upgraded his coaching staff with three former head coaches.
“Any time you can have head coaches on your staff it’s extremely healthy,” Jones said at SEC Media Days on Monday. “They’ve coached at the highest level and understand the day-to-day operations.
“I want individuals that have sat in that chair that understand, A, the dynamics of what I’m going through. But also, there’s a better way, a better way to look a things.”
Most notably, Jones leans on Brady Hoke’s 12 years as a head coach.
Jones relayed an anecdote from his Fourth of July saying, “my phone is going off and it’s Brady Hoke. He’s talking about the dynamics of our staff and how great our staff is and how this is going to be a great year. For me, that’s very comfortable.”
Jashon Robertson on experienced assistant coaches' overall presence. pic.twitter.com/7tAGf2ZjDN
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Hoke is not afraid to work across units. “Me and Coach Hoke have a cool relationship where we kid around a lot,” senior offensive lineman Jashon Robertson said with a smile.
Adding Mike Canales, Rock Gullickson, Charlton Warren and promoting Larry Scott and Walt Wells, the team advances with Jones’ strongest staff yet.
“It’s been the most competitive offseason that we’ve had. A lot of that is attributed to the addition of Rock Gullickson in the strength and conditioning area,” Jones said.
Jones adds that the coaches bring a new sense of competition since previous years are washed away with new personnel. What’s happened has happened, Jones intimates, the program must now create a new identity.
— FOX Sports Knoxville (@FOXSportsKnox) July 10, 2017