Three additions complete coaching staff

Gran, Wilson hired for offense; Garza added for defense

Photo with no caption
Photo with no caption
Willie Mack Garza

Willie Mack Garza

Eddie Gran

Eddie Gran

Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson

Tennessee hired three assistant football coaches Friday, filling out Lane Kiffin's inaugural staff.

Former Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran, North Dakota State defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza and Mississippi State running backs coach Frank Wilson are the latest additions, multiple sources confirmed Friday.

UT also hired Alabama outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson on Thursday, beginning a flurry of activity that finalized the Vols' staff a day later.

Terms of those agreements were not immediately available, and specific positions for those coaches have not been announced.

Wilson was perhaps the most intriguing of Friday's hires.

A member of UT assistant head coach Ed Orgeron's staff at Ole Miss, Wilson spent last year at Southern Miss before joining new Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen's staff in late December.

UT had been in contact with Wilson before he went to Mississippi State, however he appeared to be out of the picture at Tennessee late last week.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported on its Web site Friday evening that Wilson had signed a letter of understanding - but not a contract - with Mississippi State and that he does not owe the Bulldogs a buyout for leaving.

Wilson has strong ties to the New Orleans area, where he coached high school football and served as the city's public school athletic director before going to Ole Miss.

Gran, who had been with Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss and Auburn beginning in 1994, also has ties to Orgeron. He served as a graduate assistant for two seasons at Miami while Orgeron coached defensive line there in the early 1990's.

During Gran's time with the Tigers, he coached three running backs who went on to be first-round NFL draft picks: John Avery, Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams.

Gran, who is expected to coach running backs at UT, also coached special teams for the last nine seasons at Auburn.

Garza, a four-year starter at safety and cornerback at Texas from 1992-95, comes to Tennessee after reportedly accepting a job at New Mexico.

He coached defensive backs at TCU for three seasons, although he was suspended from the staff and later replaced after a 2003 misdemeanor arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated and failing to render aid to an injured person.

Garza worked his way back to Division I after spending 2004 coaching defensive backs at Tarleton State University and coaching defensive backs at North Dakota State, a Football Championship Subdivision school, from 2005-08.

Garza, who was NDSU's defensive coordinator the last three seasons, is expected to coach defensive backs at Tennessee.

Friday's hires also mean that Tennessee will have an entirely new coaching staff for 2009.

Kiffin cut ties with UT's entire defensive staff and offensive coordinator Dave Clawson before being introduced Dec. 1.

Former UT offensive line coach Greg Adkins left for Syracuse, and former wide receivers coach Latrell Scott became an assistant at Virginia.

Former UT running backs coach Stan Drayton, who remained on staff the last six weeks, apparently will not return.

Kiffin first hired his brother-in-law, David Reaves, from South Carolina before adding former Oakland Raiders offensive line coach James Cregg and St. Louis Rams tight ends coach Jim Chaney in mid-December.

Those hires were followed by the official introduction of his father, longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and Orgeron on Jan. 2.

Lane Kiffin also hired Mark Smith from South Carolina to become head strength and conditioning coach.

Friday's finishing kick means UT will have its full staff in place this weekend, when the Vols are expected to host eight recruits on official visits.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 113

1vol writes:

Big Weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TopperVol75 writes:

On paper, this is an incredible staff. What a bunch of recruiters...the big question now is, can these guys coach as well as they recruit?
We have had a lot of 3-4 star talent lately, but IMHO they have not been "coached up."
I have a feeling now that our kids will be "coached up." No disrespect to our previous regime.

matrosscbc writes:

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

utchris writes:

Drayton is headed for another shade of Orange...Syracuse Orange.

utkedu writes:

For Drayton, I am very happy that it appears he will land on his feet. Though it is disappointing that he worked hard for the University and was still let go, this is no different than what often happens when companies are bought out. Even good employees are often let go as new management cleans house to bring in their team.

That having been said, it is really a good feeling to be excited about UT football like I haven't been in years. Even with the $5 ticket, I wouldn't be surprised to see 75,000+ for the Orange and White game. I don't know if it will lead to wins on the field, but I for one am excited about the energy and determination this staff is bringing to Knoxville.

utkedu writes:

Also, it is good to be the team that other teams around the country are talking about. I have seen the phrase "Kiffen is putting in a real good staff up there" so many times on other SEC teams' message boards over the past few weeks. It is nice to get a little bit of healthy respect and more importantly fear from other fan bases again. There is once again an expectation that UT will be taking some of the best players from their back yards in year to come.

smashmouth98 writes:

Let's close the deal on those recruits!!! We need an influx of talent!!!!
Come on Marlon Brown!!!!!!!!!!!

utchris writes:

in response to utkedu:

For Drayton, I am very happy that it appears he will land on his feet. Though it is disappointing that he worked hard for the University and was still let go, this is no different than what often happens when companies are bought out. Even good employees are often let go as new management cleans house to bring in their team.

That having been said, it is really a good feeling to be excited about UT football like I haven't been in years. Even with the $5 ticket, I wouldn't be surprised to see 75,000+ for the Orange and White game. I don't know if it will lead to wins on the field, but I for one am excited about the energy and determination this staff is bringing to Knoxville.

Drayton was offered a spot and he chose not take it. He was not let go.

utkedu writes:

in response to utchris:

Drayton was offered a spot and he chose not take it. He was not let go.

utchris - I didn't know he was officially offerred a position. Either way, I wish him luck and am excited that we can move on with this new and complete staff.

BigOrangeVol writes:

Auburn fans are hot! We just snagged their best coach right out from under them.

alwaysorange81 writes:

Can we just rename David Reaves to David "lanes brother-in-law" Reaves? Just to save the apparently mandatory sentence explaining the relationship between Lane Kiffin and David Reaves.

andy112382#209793 writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What are you talking about? Rushed into things? I think the head coach we got is a great fit, especially seeing he is a man of his word with everything so far, and he took his time with the staff to build a very solid group of coaches and recruiters, I think things have gone great so far, get back with me on signing day then I will (hopefully) be able to say an all around fantastic job by the new staff.

tngivem6 writes:

Ok..who's visiting this weekend?..
let's see a list of names, and rankings and odds of signing for the new and Improved Big Orange Machine?..
who's got it?

bluetick writes:

LET THE SHOW BEGIN! And NOW for signing day. :)

govols22231 writes:

Great coaching staff shaping up. Reminds me of late 80's when we had Johnny Majors,Kippy Brown, Doug Mathews, Phil Fulmer, Walt Harris, Ron Zook, Kevin Steele, David Cutcliffe etc.

bluetick writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Always trying to stir the stink huh. I'm sure after drama king Tebow goes pro to sit on the bench, Satan Meyers goes to ND and we begin to spank your @sses once again you won't be on our boards saying too much.

BigOrangeVol writes:

I see a ton of recruiters and a couple of coaches.

Championship staff??? Best to curb that enthusiasm.

Kinda like..., "Thank God Ainge is gone and we can finally utilize JCromps' cannon arm and legs!"?

Kinda like..., "Thank God Cut is gone with his predictable Dink & Dunk and we finally have some new blood with the awesome Clawfense getting the ball to our play-makers!"?

FWBVol writes:

This staff seems very good. Of course the proof will be in the product on the field. I think that product will make everyone happy.

Although I don't know much about Wilson and Garza, I'm happy to see them on staff if for no other reason than people will stop crying that we don't have any African-American coaches.

If you get right down to it, there were only three black coaches on staff last year; Drayton, Scott and Slade (I believe Chief is part Indian/Native American, but I could be wrong).

Any way, to all the new coaches, Welcome to Big Orange Country, and good luck.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

they got fired for a reason. I see your point, but I think CLK had a plan all along and we will have to see the results on the field.

I see alot of upside and so does the rest of the country

newtonrail writes:

in response to utchris:

Drayton was offered a spot and he chose not take it. He was not let go.

That has not been published anywhere to my knowledge. Where are you getting your info. Looks like Kiffin Lite left him twisting in the wind.

UTVol4Life80 writes:

in response to et_vol_fan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Both "questionable character issues" you speak happened a good while ago...especially CEO's. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Also, Drayton DID NOT get strung along by CLK. He was doing his job he was still UNDER CONTRACT to do. CLK offered him a position, but he declined. What made you feel like he was strung along? CLK told all the assistants to feel free to look elsewhere if they wanted. Just because Drayton didn't leave sooner doesn't make it CLK's fault. There is interest out there for him and I'm told he probably ends up at either Syracuse or S. Carolina. ND and Ok. St. have both shown interest as well. He is an average coach at best but recruiting is his strongest asset.

utchris writes:

in response to UTVol4Life80:

Both "questionable character issues" you speak happened a good while ago...especially CEO's. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Also, Drayton DID NOT get strung along by CLK. He was doing his job he was still UNDER CONTRACT to do. CLK offered him a position, but he declined. What made you feel like he was strung along? CLK told all the assistants to feel free to look elsewhere if they wanted. Just because Drayton didn't leave sooner doesn't make it CLK's fault. There is interest out there for him and I'm told he probably ends up at either Syracuse or S. Carolina. ND and Ok. St. have both shown interest as well. He is an average coach at best but recruiting is his strongest asset.

He has accepted a position at Syracuse

UTVol4Life80 writes:

in response to tngivem6:

Ok..who's visiting this weekend?..
let's see a list of names, and rankings and odds of signing for the new and Improved Big Orange Machine?..
who's got it?

This weekend:
-Petey White 4*(top 5 OG) i'd say 50/50 we get him.
-Arthur Jeffrey 4*(top 20 DT) solid verbal
-Zaccheus Mason 3*(top 10 TE)
good shot at him
-Willie Ferrell 3*(top 15 LB) his interest is rising
-Greg King-stud out of Memphis(top 15 LB) 1 guy i'd LOVE to land
-Aubrey Phillips 3* OT solid verbal
-Zach Rogers(Austin's bro.) long-time solid verbal.

Next week we have So. Cal. very soft verbal Alshon Jeffrey (top 20 4* WR) and top 20 OG Quinton Washington for visits. Good shot at both. Love to land Jeffrey...he is from South Carolina and has said he wants to play closer to home. It'll be either us or S. Carolina.

UTVol4Life80 writes:

in response to utchris:

He has accepted a position at Syracuse

Thanks for the info...I hadn't been able to confirm that yet. I knew he was leaning that way...best of luck to him though.

easymoney writes:

And where are all the Gruden fans today? I am glad we reached out for Monte when we did. He could have been offered the HC at Tampa?

UTVol4Life80 writes:

in response to tngivem6:

Ok..who's visiting this weekend?..
let's see a list of names, and rankings and odds of signing for the new and Improved Big Orange Machine?..
who's got it?

Weekend of Jan. 30 is the huge weekend for us:

-#1 RB and wavering Bama commit Trent Richardson. May be too late, but Thompson was his recruiter @ Bama so we are def in the mix.

-#2 WR Marlon Brown. Will be us or UGA. I'd say 80% we get him. I've heard whispers of a silent commit with us, but still wanting to take his visits.

-#3 TE Orson Charles. doubt we get him, but could pull it off with an impressive visit.

-#5 WR Pat Patterson. Definitely have a shot at him. If we can land him, along with Brown/Stokes we are well on our way back to being Wide Receiver-U.

-#5 OT Marcus Hall. There is interest, not sure how much though.

-LB Derrick Webb. He is pretty interested but last I heard we hadn't offered--I think Monte is impressed with him though so I'd say that'll change.

-LB Tim Simon.
-OT Chris Freeman.
-S Terrell Williams. Pretty good shot at this kid from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have talke to him and he sounded very excited at the prospect of playing with/learning from Eric Berry.
-WR James Green from Tallahassee. Solid verbal

UTVol4Life80 writes:

in response to easymoney:

And where are all the Gruden fans today? I am glad we reached out for Monte when we did. He could have been offered the HC at Tampa?

He could have possibly been offered the job, but no way he would have taken it. Since leaving NC State as HC in 1982 he has had numorous opportunities for HC positions(both pro and college) and never came close to taking them. Enjoys being a DC plain and simple.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sounds like this Gator is jealous, doesn't it. Do you think he's a little threatened by all the brass? I see a headless horseman coming in a Gator uniform! This Gator lacks respect, me thinks!

lilesrt writes:

I keep hearing people around the SEC talk about how unpopular of a selection Lane Kiffin is for our next head coach so I got to wondering exactly what the reaction was whenever Lane Kiffin's "Mentor", Pete Carroll, got introduced as head coach at USC. I think you guys will find this quite interesting. The following are quotes from Pete Carroll at a press conference following his hiring:
"I'm going to a place where there are great expectations. That's where I want to be." "We'll be good when we're good," Carroll said, without establishing a timetable. "My goal is to win right now." Fired from head coaching jobs with the New York Jets and New England Patriots of the NFL and out of the college game for 17 years, Carroll wasn't USC's first choice. And his selection has already met with disapproval from some boosters and alumni.Carroll said recruiting would be his first priority, and right behind was settling up a coaching staff."
Does any of this sound familiar? No timetable on winning? Placing recruiting as a #1 priority? Not a popular selection as head coach? Yep! sounds like Lane Kiffin alright. Please correct me if I am wrong but I beleive Pete Carroll turned out ok. I can not wait until "It's Football Time in Tennessee!!"

Ringside writes:

win!

FWBVol writes:

As I stated in an earlier post, I like the staff Lane Kiffin has put together. That said, with all the new coaches on campus this weekend, they might need the recruits to show them around LOL.

FWBVol writes:

Here's a link to the latest story out of Pensacola on Trent Richardson.http://www.pnj.com/article/20090117/S...

FWBVol writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Here's a link to the latest story out of Pensacola on Trent Richardson.http://www.pnj.com/article/20090117/S...

I pasted it wrong. Let me try it again.

http://www.pnj.com/article/20090117/S...

volfan1967 writes:

in response to BigOrangeVol:

I see a ton of recruiters and a couple of coaches.

Championship staff??? Best to curb that enthusiasm.

Kinda like..., "Thank God Ainge is gone and we can finally utilize JCromps' cannon arm and legs!"?

Kinda like..., "Thank God Cut is gone with his predictable Dink & Dunk and we finally have some new blood with the awesome Clawfense getting the ball to our play-makers!"?

Your blind... There are a ton of coaches on this staff.....

volunteers4life writes:

in response to BigOrangeVol:

I see a ton of recruiters and a couple of coaches.

Championship staff??? Best to curb that enthusiasm.

Kinda like..., "Thank God Ainge is gone and we can finally utilize JCromps' cannon arm and legs!"?

Kinda like..., "Thank God Cut is gone with his predictable Dink & Dunk and we finally have some new blood with the awesome Clawfense getting the ball to our play-makers!"?

Why would I want to temper my enthusiasm for goodness sakes??! We finally have aomething to be excited about!! Stop for a minute and enjoy being nationally relevant again. I don't think Fulmer would of been able to get us back on half these kids minds like this staff seems to have done. Say what you will but, based on the little bit of info we have to go on so far, CLK has been nothing but a super-star. He is put together the best all around team of recruiters in the country. Even if they are sucky coaches we will at least have some exciting talent to watch!! Based on what I have seen from these coaches in the past, and the teams they have fielded were directed well enough to always be competitive. I can only see them performing at least this well on the field and with talent they will inevitably recruit here, some weakness in coaching will likely be balanced out by the high talent levels.

volunteers4life writes:

Although, I hope that we have the perfect chemistry here and provide an opportunity for CLK to make history winning a National Championship, father and son. What a headline that will be! Hopefully, Kiffin will prove himself to be an amazing x's and o's coach on top of his currently obvious skills. He has already illustrated a great eye and ability to recruit top notch coaching talent here, by being successful in this area, he has been able to at least convince a ton of the best talent in the country to give us a shot at recruiting them, and he has shown little patience for disruptive behavior in the classroom and off the field. Creating a greater level of discipline in the program. He has the entire country talking about our next move and he has revolutionized the rebuilding process in the SEC. Recognizing the importance of the assistant and position coach positions by taking less money personally in deferrence to his staff. If I had to grade the overall management of the overall program to this point, not referring to the yet to be seen on field proof, I would say A+ with a check mark and a smiley face.

volunteers4life writes:

Not to mention the fact that he named his freakin kid Knox too!

87UTVOL writes:

Congrats to CLK on putting together an impressive staff which has people talking. Now, let's get to work on recruits, game planning, off-season conditioning and Spring practice.

Also, with some 20-20 hindsight, one thing which is being overlooked is Mike Hamilton's decision to announce the coaching change before the end of the season. Personally, I wasn't all for letting CPF go, but I guess I could see the other side. But, now looking back it's worked out like Hamilton said it would. One, we sent CPF out with thank-yous and a win, being carried off the field by his players in an emotional moment in Tennessee football.

And two, we got the jump on getting not only CLK, but also working on putting together a staff. We were 30 days or so ahead of Auburn, Iowa State, Washington, Syracuse and others. We've left some heads spinning at our competition after CLK hired their coaches. Now, we've got an impressive staff and everyone is in place ready to welcome recruits for this first big January recruting weekend.

The KNS might not print it, but looking at things so far, Hamilton really is due some kudos for making a tough decision and putting Tennessee football in a good position...so far.

lilesrt writes:

in response to volunteers4life:

Why would I want to temper my enthusiasm for goodness sakes??! We finally have aomething to be excited about!! Stop for a minute and enjoy being nationally relevant again. I don't think Fulmer would of been able to get us back on half these kids minds like this staff seems to have done. Say what you will but, based on the little bit of info we have to go on so far, CLK has been nothing but a super-star. He is put together the best all around team of recruiters in the country. Even if they are sucky coaches we will at least have some exciting talent to watch!! Based on what I have seen from these coaches in the past, and the teams they have fielded were directed well enough to always be competitive. I can only see them performing at least this well on the field and with talent they will inevitably recruit here, some weakness in coaching will likely be balanced out by the high talent levels.

One thing I do not quite understand is why people view our coaches as being subpar. Do you honestly think that the coaches Lane kiffin has hired are poor coaches and "great" recruiters? These guys are highly touted coaches that all came from top flight programs or at least have been at top flight programs. They did not get there by not knowing how to coach. I have come to the understanding that despite who we bring in as assistant or head coach people will find something negative to say about it. It really makes me laugh. And as far as the other SEC school fans that come on this sight and talk trash about our coaching aquisitions, they do not like the fact that we are assembling such a good staff. My hope is that we give Coach Kiffin a reasonable amount of time to prove himself as a winning coach. It takes time to rebuild a program. It doesnt always happen overnight. Alabama fans are quick to forget about Nick Saban's first year as head coach. He went 6-6 with a loss to UL Monroe. Lets try to remember that going into this season. I am looking for improvement....Not a time table. The wins will come after a couple of years. Any comments welcome.

southernson writes:

WE ARE THE FA AANS OF CANSTANCE SORROW .....Just enjoy

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to newtonrail:

That has not been published anywhere to my knowledge. Where are you getting your info. Looks like Kiffin Lite left him twisting in the wind.

Let's ask you the same question..where do you get your info?

TwigInOrange writes:

For all of those that are saying, "We have good recruiters, but I am worried about how well they can actually coach." Are you kidding me???? 5 coaches on this staff have been either offensive or defensvie coordinators, 3 have been head coaches, 5 have coached in the NFL, and just as a bonus, 7 of them have been recruiting coordinators! Whether you like the hirss or not, well that is one thing, but to suggest that these guys are more recruiters than coaches is absurd.

allntl1#565211 writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We did get alot of coaches from the NFL that were not fired but chose to leave for UT. Kiffen was fired but his boss is a crazy old man.
Glad we did not wait like some of these teams, Auburn.

PaulTheVol writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, we did just fine. It's obvious that CLK has a strategy and is executing his plan against that strategy. He has built a staff that works for Tennessee's situation - one with strength in recruiting.

I am thankful we weren't tempted by someone like Gruden, who quickly wears out his welcome where ever he goes (just ask former players).

We probably won't be with the SEC's elite next year even though it should be an extraordinarily weak year. But I am confident that as this staff does it's thing we'll start to see the results we want.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to utkedu:

utchris - I didn't know he was officially offerred a position. Either way, I wish him luck and am excited that we can move on with this new and complete staff.

Yes he was offered a spot but chose to go to Syracuse

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to BigOrangeVol:

I see a ton of recruiters and a couple of coaches.

Championship staff??? Best to curb that enthusiasm.

Kinda like..., "Thank God Ainge is gone and we can finally utilize JCromps' cannon arm and legs!"?

Kinda like..., "Thank God Cut is gone with his predictable Dink & Dunk and we finally have some new blood with the awesome Clawfense getting the ball to our play-makers!"?

Quit posting on the site, Phil

txvolsfan writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If we waited we may have settled for a lesser coach and a lesser coaching staff. I am very happy with this Coach and this coaching staff. This is the best recruiting coaching staff that was and is available. So worry about your own house and stay out of our house GGGGGGGAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYtor!!!

smokyredbone writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just enjoy next season creep! It will be your last on top! Anything less than a repeat NC would represent a total failure by the Gators. So,enjoy and pray to that great slimey lizard in the swamp that the Kiffin express isn't next years "OLE MISS". After Scruvin jumps to his dream job and Tebiatch enters the ministry you chumps are back to the celler!! GO VOLS!

txvolsfan writes:

in response to VY10_Titans:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Monte is very hands on with the DB's, so I'm not worried about that. He will be just fine with our backfield.

AppreciativeAlum writes:

I think Kiffin is trying to build an organization that people will want to be a part of. Treating Stan right with complete candor is a part of that.

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