KNOXVILLE — Kevin Sherrer came to the University of Tennessee with the plan of doing his part to help the football program get back to competing for and winning championships.
And if his role changed along the way, so be it.
So when head coach Jeremy Pruitt approached Sherrer this offseason about becoming the Volunteers' new special teams coordinator, it was an easy decision.
After spending the 2018 season as a co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, Sherrer changed coordinator duties. The special teams position became open when Charles Kelly left for a similar position at Alabama.
When he announced the staff changes in February, Pruitt noted that Sherrer's experience at the high school level — where coaches are asked to wear many hats — made him ideal for the job.
"And he's done this before," Pruitt said. "You know, special teams is really a very important part of the game, might be the most important part.
"I thought we done a really good job with that last year, and we want to continue to stay on the trajectory that we were, and when it comes to that, he's the guy that I felt like best suited that spot."
Sherrer noted that special teams technically fall on all of the coaches, not just him. He's just the one in charge.
"We have to be really organized," he said. "We have guys that help get a lot of the paperwork and organizational stuff done behind the scenes. We put it to work, but it takes a lot to get things organized."
Sherrer maintained his title of inside linebackers coach, where he will be in charge of a group that includes Daniel Bituli — the team's leading tackler the past two seasons — and potentially highly touted freshmen Quavaris Crouch and Henry To'oto'o. A midyear enrollee, Crouch spent time during the spring playing both inside and outside.
The coach's position group could be taking a hit this season, since Darrin Kirkland Jr. could be forced to end his college career a year early due to lingering knee issues. That magnifies the importance of the new players — as well as the emergence of returners such as junior Shanon Reid, who led everybody with 10 tackles in the Orange and White game — for Sherrer.
"Inside, you're like the quarterback," he said. "You have to set the defense. You have to communicate. You have to talk to the secondary. You have to talk to the front. You're what ties everything in."
And with a year in Pruitt's defensive scheme, everything is a lot easier for everybody involved, from the top with Pruitt to the assistant coaches to players such as Bituli, who feels far more comfortable.
"This time around (last) year, this defense was foreign language to everybody in the locker room but the coaches," Bituli said earlier this spring. "So actually knowing what to do — like, feeling 100 percent, knowing what we're going to do — and being able to explain it to the younger guys is definitely a big step to our defense."
Pruitt's defensive schemes force players to be prepared to play multiple positions. This past offseason showed that he expects his coaches to be prepared for a similar circumstance.
For his part, Sherrer wants to win and will do whatever job is asked of him to make that happen.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.
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