The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has hired a former All-America guard, Alex Atkins, as its new offensive line coach.
A 2006 All-American and two-time All-Ohio Valley Conference player at UT-Martin, Atkins has spent the past two seasons coaching the offensive line and tight ends at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi.
Atkins is replacing Geep Wade, who left after signing day for a job on Doc Holliday's staff at Marshall. Mocs head coach Russ Huesman said he interviewed four candidates for the job. This was his second attempt to hire Atkins, whom he'd pursued for a spot on his staff a few years before.
"He's a pretty impressive guy," Huesman said. "He's knowledgeable, our players really liked him, felt like they connected with him, and I think he's a good, good, good young coach that I'm hoping we can keep here for a little bit."
Huesman said he didn't want to hire someone who was going to be at UTC for a year and then bolt at the first opportunity.
"I'm not asking anybody for five years, but I don't want a one-and-done type of deal," he said. "And we felt Alex matched up well with what we were looking for."
The 27-year-old Atkins was a senior at UT-Martin when Mocs offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield was the Skyhawks' running backs coach, and he later worked with Satterfield for two seasons as the tight ends coach.
"He's a great ball coach and I'm excited about working with him again," said Atkins, who was a graduate assistant at Marshall before heading to Itawamba.
The Mocs have gone through several offensive line coaches since Huesman was hired in December 2008. Russ Ehrenfeld was initially hired to coach the position. After a year, Wade was hired and shared the job with Ehrenfeld.
Following the 2010 season, Wade took over the line and Ehrenfeld was moved to tight ends. Now it's Atkins' turn coaching the offensive line, where all five starters return.
"I feel like I'm kind of in a blessed situation because I know all of the guys have been well coached and they're all back from last year," Atkins said. "Everyone there is working toward winning championships, and I get to come in and help them make that happen."
Huesman said he hopes to hire a running backs coach and a linebackers coach by the end of the week.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.