Tennessee hasn't reached the finish line in its search for a defensive coordinator.
But the Vols certainly appear to be closer to the tape as classes resume on campus.
According to a source familiar with the process but not authorized to speak publicly, UT is taking a close look at an assistant fresh off a national championship with Alabama outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri emerging as a candidate to fill the vacant position leading the defense.
Citing a source as well, govols247.com reported that Sunseri is expected to visit Knoxville today to discuss the position with coach Derek Dooley and athletic director Dave Hart.
Sunseri is the latest to be linked to the position opened up by the departure of Justin Wilcox to Washington nine days ago after spending two seasons with the program, joining veteran defensive coordinators Kevin Steele of Clemson, Baylor's Phil Bennett, Navy's Buddy Green former Miami coach Randy Shannon as names that have been discussed to varying degrees.
Like Steele, Sunseri was considered a potential target for the Vols when Dooley hired his first defensive coordinator with the program. Sunseri has since added two more seasons of experience under Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, helping lead the team to a second national title in three years with a dominating 21-0 win over LSU on Monday night in the BCS Championship Game.
Both Dooley and Hart have familiarity with Sunseri given his ties to Alabama. Dooley from his time working with Saban as an assistant and Hart from his role in the athletic department before being hired in September.
Before Sunseri arrived at Alabama, he spent seven years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers — including six in charge of one of the more respected defensive lines in the league, producing Pro Bowl selections in every season except one.