Tennessee is in the market for a new running backs coach following Jerry Mack's decision to leave for the same role with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mack's three-season run with Josh Heupel's Volunteers was productive, as they rushed for at least 2,500 yards each year to set a program record. Last season's Vols led the Southeastern Conference with 204.85 rushing yards a game, and Jaylen Wright became Tennessee's first 1,000-yard rusher since Jalen Hurd in 2015.
This is just the third coaching change Heupel has endured with his fourth spring practice set to start next month.
Kodi Burns, who served as receivers coach on Heupel's inaugural staff in 2021, left after that season for the same opportunity with the New Orleans Saints. Following the 2022 regular season in which Tennessee went 10-2 and earned an Orange Bowl bid against Clemson, offensive coordinator Alex Golesh left for the head-coaching opportunity at South Florida.
In each case, Heupel promoted from within, tabbing offensive analyst Kelsey Pope to replace Burns and elevating quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle to offensive coordinator. Golesh handled tight ends during his two seasons in Knoxville, and Heupel promoted offensive analyst Alec Abeln to fulfill that aspect of Golesh's departure.
Burns had never coached in the NFL before leaving, and neither has Mack, a former Arkansas State receiver who had stints as a receivers coach at Memphis and South Alabama before becoming the head coach at North Carolina Central, where he went 31-15 from 2014-17 and won three consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships.
Mack was named the HBCU national coach of the year in 2016, when the Eagles finished the regular season 9-3 overall and No. 18 in the FCS coaches poll, and he spent the 2018-20 seasons as Rice's offensive coordinator before coming to Tennessee.
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