Jay Graham: 'I'm excited to get back to my old stomping grounds'

Jay Graham

Photo by UTSPORTS.COM

Jay Graham

Tennessee made another offer to Jay Graham.

The answer was the same as it was when he was a recruit.

Once a part of the rich tradition in the Vols’ backfield as a player, Graham is coming back to the program to try to restore some of the luster as an assistant, leaving South Carolina to return to his alma mater as the running backs coach in a move formally announced on Tuesday.

“I’m excited to get back to my old stomping grounds,” Graham said in a phone interview. “Tennessee has a lot of great football traditions, the fans and support there, that was one of the reasons I chose to be there as a player. Having that opportunity to come back as a coach is something that was a draw for me and also a special opportunity.

“This was something that I kind of always saw myself doing. Having the opportunity to do that is something that is really special to me.”

The chance to bring him back was apparently too appealing to resist for UT as well, and not just because of his ties to the program or the fact that his name is still listed seventh on the all-time rushing list.

Graham has proved himself on the sideline and as a recruiter during the last three seasons with the Gamecocks, earning a nomination for national assistant coach of the year in 2010, helping land prized tailback Marcus Lattimore and then working with him as he carried for more than 2,000 career yards and 27 touchdowns before his sophomore campaign was shortened by injury.

Even without Lattimore down the stretch this season, South Carolina still finished the year ranked third in the SEC with 198 yards per game — head and shoulders better than UT’s ground attack that wound up No. 116 in the country.

“I try to stay away from all the talk of getting UT back to itself,” Graham said. “I’m just going to get in there and work as hard as I possibly can.

“I saw some backs out there with some ability, and I’m going to kind of get in there and look around and see what we have back there first off. I’m just going to try to work as hard as possible to get our guys prepared to go play running back in the SEC.”

That process will start almost right away for Graham, who indicated he had some loose ends to tie up in South Carolina but wouldn’t be sticking around to coach in the bowl game with the Vols in the middle of a critical recruiting period.

The addition of Graham also gives UT a complete coaching staff once more after the retirement of Charlie Baggett last week, though there are unconfirmed reports that special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Eric Russell could be a target of new Washington State coach Mike Leach.

But either way, the Vols didn’t waste any time focusing their search on a replacement for Baggett or bringing him into the fold. And Graham was more than willing to rush back to the program to lend a hand again.

“Jay is not only one of the most accomplished running backs in Tennessee history, but he has also proven to be one of the top running backs coaches in the SEC,” UT coach Derek Dooley said in a release. “Jay understands what it means to be a Vol, and we are thrilled to have him on our staff.”

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 282

Down_The_Field writes:

welcome home, jay.

good news for a change.

VolInIndy writes:

Yahoo

MidTennVol writes:

Like.

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

Will be a popular hire. Good to see a Vol return to his roots. Let's get that ground game going Coach Graham! GO VOLS!

NashvillePreds writes:

This is actually positive Vol news.
Been awhile...

tnsportsman writes:

YES, welcome home Jay Graham! Now coach and train our RBs to KICK BUTT for OUR VOLS!

GO VOLS, VFL ALWAYS!

clvolfan writes:

in response to OrangeinCarolina2:

Will be a popular hire. Good to see a Vol return to his roots. Let's get that ground game going Coach Graham! GO VOLS!

And get Al Wilson back to teach the defense how to get tough again.

jcp201 writes:

Great Hire!!!!

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

welcome home, jay.

good news for a change.

Agreed, finally some good news. Maybe Jay can get the Vols a top notch running back.

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

Any coach would look good with the best RB in the country.I THINK HE IS OVER RATED

Vol86 writes:

good move

govols1981 writes:

Best news i have heard all day.Welcome home jay..bring back some pride to this team and the running game.

Central_IL_Vol writes:

This is great news!

frblalack writes:

GREAT HIRE INDEED!!!! Best football news in a while! It's always good to have coaches who bleed orange! Another CLASS move by Coach Dooley!

Go Big Orange! All Vols - All the time!

CB4VOLZ writes:

in response to ROCKYTOPBRAD:

Any coach would look good with the best RB in the country.I THINK HE IS OVER RATED

SOME people are never happy.........

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to BlueTickHound4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hinshaw is moving to WR coach and Chaney is going to coach QBs.

jjsteel writes:

in response to ROCKYTOPBRAD:

Any coach would look good with the best RB in the country.I THINK HE IS OVER RATED

so is your opinion

volfanlostnbama writes:

Now go hire whilhoit for the special teams opening we might have if Wash.St. takes Russell!

tdvol1989 writes:

Dooley cannot miss with this one. Good coach, but more importantly, he wins a PR battle.

Now, beg Kippy Brown to be the OC. I know he got P-O'd when he was not considered anything more than the interim, but he was not really in a good position to set him up for Head Coach. Just do it. Beg him.

Get him back and you would flip the PR battle quickly.

OrangeDew writes:

in response to ROCKYTOPBRAD:

Any coach would look good with the best RB in the country.I THINK HE IS OVER RATED

He's coming from SC not Bama.

govols1981 writes:

in response to clvolfan:

And get Al Wilson back to teach the defense how to get tough again.

i like your style...NICE

dk writes:

Rockytopbrad is a loser.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Wow! This is the first signature move....We keep doing things like this and you won't have to worry about the 50k when we rush the field. The fans will pay for it! Really, really big day for us. He has been there. He has done that...If I was Florida or Alabama, I would definitely notice...Expect a big recruiting commitment or 3 or 4 to follow.....Oh yes, It's GREAT to be a Tennessee Vol! Go Big....Or Go Home....

volsreign writes:

Okay, somebody educate me. I agree that it's a great hire because he is a former Vol great, however, I don't know anything about his coaching history or ability. The article says he is a "former" S.C. coach. Was he fired? How has he been as a coach? Anybody who really knows about his coaching ability and is not just commenting that he's great because he's a former Vol, let all of us ignorant folks know the real scoop on him.

OrangePride writes:

Well, this is WELCOME news!! Let's hope JG can have the kind of success here that he has had at SC. This is one coaching puzzle piece in place....a couple more to go.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

Maybe this will boost the running back recruiting pool. I wonder if Imani Cross is rethinking his decommittment now. Nice to have a true Vol back.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

Now go hire whilhoit for the special teams opening we might have if Wash.St. takes Russell!

Hire Craig Colquitt and Fuad Reviez as part-timers.

kingofthevols writes:

I hope Jay gets some material with which to work. From what I've seen, we don't have much. Doesn't appear to be a Marcus Lattimore on this roster.

volinSmyrna writes:

in response to BlueTickHound4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't know if he got fired or what, but Russell is apparantly going to Wash St with Leach.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to tennvolsman19651965:

Maybe this will boost the running back recruiting pool. I wonder if Imani Cross is rethinking his decommittment now. Nice to have a true Vol back.

I must have missed the part where he decommitted.

manniesghost1903 writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

Dooley cannot miss with this one. Good coach, but more importantly, he wins a PR battle.

Now, beg Kippy Brown to be the OC. I know he got P-O'd when he was not considered anything more than the interim, but he was not really in a good position to set him up for Head Coach. Just do it. Beg him.

Get him back and you would flip the PR battle quickly.

Glad you mentioned Kippy Brown. He should have been hired to replace Kiffin in the first place.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to tennvolsman19651965:

Maybe this will boost the running back recruiting pool. I wonder if Imani Cross is rethinking his decommittment now. Nice to have a true Vol back.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/tennessee/foo...

Cross still a solid verbal.

Also, we're in the hunt now with Mike Davis, who HAS decommitted from FL.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/tennessee/foo...

DooleysOrangePants writes:

in response to ROCKYTOPBRAD:

Any coach would look good with the best RB in the country.I THINK HE IS OVER RATED

he recruited that running back

volinSmyrna writes:

in response to volsreign:

Okay, somebody educate me. I agree that it's a great hire because he is a former Vol great, however, I don't know anything about his coaching history or ability. The article says he is a "former" S.C. coach. Was he fired? How has he been as a coach? Anybody who really knows about his coaching ability and is not just commenting that he's great because he's a former Vol, let all of us ignorant folks know the real scoop on him.

He is a "former" S.C. coach because he doesn't coach there anymore. As far as coaching ability..it is really subjective. He had Marcus Lattimore for the last two years. I was impressed with the Freshmen back that came in to replace him when ML got hurt, so that has to say something for Coach. Also, coaching running backs isn't like coaching WR's or Qb's. It is mainly about motivating and staying sharp once all the x's and o's are taught. Plus, he is well thought of as a recruiter, so big plus there.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

I must have missed the part where he decommitted.

Yeah, he is scheduling trips to NC, Vandy and a long list of schools now. Imani Decommitted this morning or late last night. It was reported by ESPN

jobrando#216494 writes:

A+ hire...now for a kicking coach

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

in response to OrangeDew:

He's coming from SC not Bama.

No kidding dumba** Marcus Lattimore was the best in the country untill he got hurt!

DooleysOrangePants writes:

in response to volsreign:

Okay, somebody educate me. I agree that it's a great hire because he is a former Vol great, however, I don't know anything about his coaching history or ability. The article says he is a "former" S.C. coach. Was he fired? How has he been as a coach? Anybody who really knows about his coaching ability and is not just commenting that he's great because he's a former Vol, let all of us ignorant folks know the real scoop on him.

govols1981 writes:

in response to dk:

Rockytopbrad is a loser.

agreed.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/tennessee/foo...

Cross still a solid verbal.

Also, we're in the hunt now with Mike Davis, who HAS decommitted from FL.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/tennessee/foo...

Cross just hasnt been removed from Rivals list yet. If he were a solid verbal, why is ESPN reporting that he decommitted and has scheduled visits to Georgia Tech, Vandy, North Carolina, and the list is as long as my arm. I have also read the rumors that we are after Mike Davis, very hard. But Imani Cross decommitted, no matter how long it takes rivals to update their list.

govols1981 writes:

imani cross is a fading memory.we still got the running back from georgia,i think his name is quashon washington.if i got is name wrong sorry...

Conar_the_Barbarian writes:

in response to volsreign:

Okay, somebody educate me. I agree that it's a great hire because he is a former Vol great, however, I don't know anything about his coaching history or ability. The article says he is a "former" S.C. coach. Was he fired? How has he been as a coach? Anybody who really knows about his coaching ability and is not just commenting that he's great because he's a former Vol, let all of us ignorant folks know the real scoop on him.

Quote from Gamecocks website: "Graham, 36, was nominated for the 2010 Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award and was one of four finalists for National Running Backs Coach of the Year by FootballScoop.com after seeing vast improvement in the Carolina rushing attack. His recruitment of tailback Marcus Lattimore was a key in leading the Gamecocks to 154.4 rushing yards per game - an improvement of 33 yards per game from 2009 - with Lattimore averaging 92.1 yards per contest. Lattimore also had three contests with more than 180 rushing yards and set numerous school records, including most yards by a freshman, most carries in a game and the single-season touchdown mark. Under Graham's guidance, Lattimore was a unanimous pick for National Freshman of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. In addition, Carolina's running backs lost only two fumbles all season."

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to RockyMountainVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or could it be translated as, " after they couldnt beat Kentucky, I decided to look elsewhere."

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

The running back coach or lack there of is not the problem!you can have the best coach and back in the country, but if they are running behind that phooey for a line it will be 2011 all over again. Harry noline has to go.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to govols1981:

imani cross is a fading memory.we still got the running back from georgia,i think his name is quashon washington.if i got is name wrong sorry...

Mike Davis is the big name right now, after he decomitted from Florida. He is a 4 star from Stone Mountain.

lahvolman2 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Hire Craig Colquitt and Fuad Reviez as part-timers.

ever heard Fuad on the call in shows???? This guy is so full of himself he would never be able to relate to any other kicker...

RoyaltyVol writes:

Great hire!!!

pcorange writes:

Glad to have some good news for a change.

brod writes:

i hope he can coach as good as he could run.

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