KNOXVILLE - Derek Dooley is in the final stages of trying to fill his 2012 recruiting class, but the Tennessee football coach is trying to fill out his coaching staff as well.

He might have taken a big step in accomplishing the latter Thursday.

Former NFL assistant Charlie Coiner is in line to become the Volunteers' special teams coach, a source inside the UT program confirmed to the Times Free Press on Thursday afternoon. UT did not announce the hiring, but Coiner would replace Eric Russell, who left last month to become the special teams coordinator and assistant head coach at Washington State.

Coiner would be the fifth assistant Dooley has hired this offseason, leaving one vacancy on the defensive staff.

The 51-year-old most recently coached the defensive line at North Carolina, where he was hired by Tar Heels coach Butch Davis in September 2010 following four seasons as the Buffalo Bills' tight ends coach. Coiner's NFL coaching career began in Chicago, where he started as the Bears' offensive quality control coach in 2001 and was the team's assistant special teams coach for two seasons (2004-05).

"He's a good football coach," Davis said when he announced the UNC hire on an ACC conference call. "He's smart; he's bright; he's got good communication skills; he's a good teacher; he's got a unique perspective in that he has seen an awful lot of very good football players and how they play."

Coiner has ties to three of the Vols' most recent coaching hires.

New offensive line coach Sam Pittman coached the same position at North Carolina for five seasons (2007-11). As Louisville's tight ends coach for three seasons (1995-97), Coiner worked on the staff with new UT defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri. He also was an assistant under UT defensive line coach John Palermo for one season at Austin Peay in 1990.

Coiner has SEC experience as well, coaching for three seasons (1991-93) at Vanderbilt and one (1999) at LSU, all under Gerry DiNardo. He made a stop in Chattanooga as well as an assistant for the Mocs in 1998 under Buddy Green, Navy's defensive coordinator who was a candidate for the Vols' defensive coordinator opening.

Upon leaving North Carolina early last year, Coiner moved to Austin, Texas, and began a software company called 1stDown Technologies. The startup created the PlayBook app, which is available on Apple's iPad and iPhone. The interactive app offers 2,600 offensive plays for coaches at all levels of football, according to the company's website.

"This puts everything in one place," Coiner told the Austin American-Stateman on Jan. 4. "The idea is to let coaches spend more time developing football players and less time designing plays."

Now it appears Coiner will get to do just that for the Vols.