Butch Jones 'grateful' to UT for assistants' raises

Butch Jones 'grateful' to UT for assistants' raises

April 15th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones yells at his players during a football game.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- Part of the financial upgrades Tennessee made to its football program in December, when the Volunteers handed head coach Butch Jones a $650,000 raise, included increasing the salary pool for the assistant coaches.

How those raises were doled out became public Tuesday, when Tennessee released the updated contract information and salaries for its eight returning assistant coaches.

Those coaches received a total of $250,000 in raises, with receivers coach Zach Azzanni and running backs coach Robert Gillespie each getting $50,000 bumps to go with their new titles and defensive coordinator John Jancek becoming Tennessee's highest-paid assistant.

"I'm very grateful to our administration," Jones said after Tuesday's practice. "They've been very, very supportive, not only of myself, but our entire coaching staff. It was great to be able to reward them, and we still have a long ways to go. They all understand that, but we're very fortunate to have a very good coaching staff.

"I know they have great relationships with our community and with our players, so I'm very thankful to our administration for showing the support like they have."

The deals for each coach were rolled over another year and now run through February 2017.

Azzanni was named passing game coordinator as Tennessee shuffled its staff after hiring Mike DeBord to replace the NFL-bound Mike Bajakian as offensive coordinator, and Gillespie assumed Azzanni's old role of recruiting coordinator.

Updated contracts and salaries for UT assistant football coaches.

Updated contracts and salaries for UT assistant football...

Illustration by Times Free Press Staff

Jones said it's been a "flawless" transition for those two coaches into their upgraded roles.

"Coach Gillespie is doing a tremendous job with the recruiting aspect of things and the overall organization and really the focus and the details that's required day to day," he said. "Coach Azzanni's done a great job with the passing game. He's worked hand in hand with Coach DeBord.

"It's just like I thought it would be and like we hoped it would be, as all the transitions have been very, very smooth. When you have an opportunity to add to your staff, I view it as a positive. It's an opportunity to get better. Coach DeBord coming here has really helped our coaching staff."

Healthy returns

The Vols practiced in helmets and shoulder pads Tuesday and welcomed back a couple of players they'd been missing.

Running back Alvin Kamara was back after missing three practices last week due to a thigh bruise, and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley returned following a three-week absence while he dealt with mononucleosis.

"It was great to have him back," Jones said of Moseley. "He's 100 percent physically, but being in shape, I'd say probably about 80 percent. It's getting your football legs now, but just to have his presence back on the field and taking reps was great to see."

Kamara and Jalen Hurd, who's been in a noncontact jersey all spring, each had an increase of repetitions during Tuesday's practice, according to Jones.

"As many reps those two individuals can get, the more the better," he added.

Saulsberry's status

The injury-plagued career of defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry doesn't appear to be over just yet.

The rising fifth-year senior is out this spring as he recovers from the third knee surgery of his career, but Jones told the Times Free Press that Saulsberry is planning to play. There had been some thought he'd end his career due to health reasons. If that was the case, Saulsberry could go on medical scholarship for his final year of eligibility.

The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder's future likely will be sorted out when Tennessee starts preseason training camp in August.

Pearson responds

Jones backed up his challenge of receiver Von Pearson after Saturday's scrimmage by testing the talented wideout right off the bat in Tuesday's practice.

As the Vols broke from their stretching, Jones pitted Pearson and cornerback Cam Sutton against each other for a goal-line one-on-one, and Pearson came down with a tough grab in the back of the end zone.

"Von responded like I would think he would respond," Jones said. "He came out here, he was competitive. Von's a smart player. He's a smart individual. He knows the standard; he knows the expectations. Very fitting that he responded the way we'd like to see him respond. I was pleased with his practice today, and we did challenge him."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.