Bill Baker, a Tennessee graduate and longtime NFL scout, is leaving the football program. UT spokesperson Jimmy Stanton said Baker planned to retire after Pro Day, which is March 20.
Baker was hired by former coach Derek Dooley in 2012 to be NFL coordinator, a role created with the goal of guiding players on their path to professional football.
Baker helped seniors navigate the draft and free agency process and also provided NFL evaluations for younger players looking to improve their stock.
“If I can get two-thirds of (UT’s seniors) a contract, I’m going to be the happiest guy in the world,” Baker told Volquest.com last August. “I know what it takes to get there. That’s my role. My job is to tell them to pour their heart and soul into Tennessee first and if they will do that then I will do everything in my power to help them try and get a contract in the NFL.”
As expected, linebacker Curt Maggitt will miss all of spring practice after suffering a torn ACL late last season, coach Butch Jones said Friday.
Maggitt will get “mental reps” from the sidelines, Jones said.
Freshman safety Jalen Reeves-Maybin, will be able to do very little this spring after shoulder surgery.
Offensive tackle Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, who had his knee scoped during the offseason, also will be limited.
Jones and strength coach Dave Lawson asked Tennessee’s offensive linemen to slim down to keep pace with the high-speed offense.
“There are some players who we thought were overweight and couldn’t move on a play,” Jones said. “I think that’s critical. We have a talented group up front. I never want to take their edge or strength away. Our nutritionist came to me today and said, ‘Coach, I’ve never seen anything like this. The amount of body fat that our players have lost in a couple months and gained weight through muscle is amazing.’
“That’s the way we’re training. Even though their losing weight, they’re gaining muscle. And that’s what we want.”
Jones said he consulted high school coaches before hiring a new running backs coach.
“I kept hearing Robert Gillespie, Robert Gillespie,” Jones said.
Gillespie, a former Florida running back who coached at South Carolina, Oklahoma State and most recently West Virginia, said he was glad to be back in the SEC.
“You never know where life is going to take you,” Gillespie said. “I have always respected Tennessee. I played in some of my most competitive games against this university, so to get the opportunity to come here and coach and be apart of it is definitely amazing.”
Gillespie was a freshman in 1998 when the Vols edged No. 2 Florida 20-17 in overtime at Neyland Stadium in a game that could have derailed Tennessee’s national championship run in Week 2. The Vols recovered four Florida fumbles and broke a five-game losing streak in the series.
“That is something that you never forget,” Gillespie said. He added with a laugh, “Hopefully that’s the last time we will talk about it.”
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.