KNOXVILLE — Tennessee remains in the market for a defensive coordinator.
The Volunteers soon could be searching for another assistant coach as well.
Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is a factor in the search for a similar position on the staff at Notre Dame, a source inside the football program told the Times Free Press on Wednesday. If Hiestand were to leave after finishing his second year with the program, he'd be the fifth assistant coach to leave Derek Dooley's staff since UT's season-ending loss to Kentucky. Despite returning all but one offensive lineman from 2010, UT was 116th nationally in rushing, though the Vols' pass protection significantly improved.
UT's most important vacancy remains open, though Dooley could be close to hiring a defensive coordinator to replace Justin Wilcox, who left for Washington last week. According to the source, Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri was in Knoxville on Wednesday to interview for the position less than 48 hours after helping the Crimson Tide win the BCS national title Monday night in New Orleans. Known for his recruiting ability, the 52-year-old Sunseri hasn't been a defensive coordinator since a two-year stint at Alabama A&M in 1998-99.
Sunseri was the Carolina Panthers' defensive line coach for six seasons before joining Nick Saban's staff at Alabama in 2009. In his third year with the Tide, he was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant. Sunseri's son, Vinnie, just completed his freshman season as a safety and special-teams ace, and it's possible Alabama could attempt to keep Sunseri on its staff.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green was scheduled to interview for the Vols' opening today, which a source confirmed. The two-time Broyles Award nominee and former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach (1994-99), who also coached at LSU and North Carolina State, has led the Midshipmen's defense for 10 seasons. Navy finished 5-7 this season and was 86th nationally in defense.
UT is scheduled to host a number of important on-campus official visits this weekend, though Dooley said last week he didn't have a timetable for his coordinator search.
"I'm not going to sit here and say it's no big deal if we take our time," he said. "The quicker we can get somebody in the better, but what I'm not going to do is compromise who we get because we have to get somebody fast. I'm going to be diligent, but I'm also going to recognize that time's important."
Matt Milton is transferring to Louisville, according to the sophomore receiver's high school coach. Mascoutah High School coach Scott Battas told the Belleville (Ill.) News Democrat on Tuesday that the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Milton was moving closer to home due to a "family illness." Battas told the paper Milton was looking for more playing time and continuing his relationship with Cardinals' offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who recruited Milton two years ago while at Nebraska.
"Thanks for all the love [and] support," Milton wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday night. "Tough decision but I'm happy to a riding with the cardinal nation! Mind on the mission."
After enrolling early as part of the 2010 class, Milton played in just four games as a freshman. He appeared in six games this season and made the lone catch of his career, a 12-yard reception at Florida in September. He was one of four players suspended for violating team rules the week before the season-ending loss to Kentucky.
The Vols now have lost two receivers since the end of the season. DeAnthony Arnett transferred to Michigan State last week to be closer to his sick father. Dooley is scheduled to meet with the media regarding any more potential roster changes either today or Friday.
Alexander picks Vols
Immokalee (Fla.) High School cornerback Mackensie Alexander verbally committed to UT on Wednesday to become the Vols' second class of 2013 commitment. The 5-11, 175-pound junior had early scholarship offers from Florida, Ohio State, South Carolina and Miami.
Bradley Central offensive lineman Austin Sanders is UT's other 2013 public commitment.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...