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The Volunteer's head coach Butch Jones celebrates his team's 24-17 win over the Commodores in this Nov. 29, 2014, photo.

KNOXVILLE -- It's been a week since Mike Bajakian left his post as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, and the search for his replacement continues for Butch Jones and the Volunteers.

With less than a week left until national signing day next Wednesday, Tennessee's third-year coach has been splitting his time between the final round of in-home visits with commitments and what's left of the Vols' recruiting board while also conducting a search to fill the vacancy on his staff.

When that process will end in a hire remains unclear.

"That search is going exceptionally well, and I'm going to take my time," Jones said during an appearance on the "Paul Finebaum Show" on the SEC Network on Wednesday afternoon. "It's all about finding the right fit. The fans want you to hire a resume and all that, but I know what's best for Tennessee football.

"I know exactly what we need and what we need to take the next step. I'm very thankful to Coach Bajakian and everything that he brought, but now it's to bring somebody in to really take us to the next level."

Jones was in California with defensive line coach Steve Stripling visiting five-star defensive tackle commitment Kahlil McKenzie and in Virginia visiting with defensive end pledge Darrell Taylor on Tuesday.

After meeting with former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike Debord, who was Jones's boss at Central Michigan for four seasons, over the weekend, the vetting process has continued for Jones and Tennessee, and there's likely been some contacts between him and possible candidates between the recruiting stops.

"We're multitasking right now," Jones said Wednesday afternoon. "Everything is about a gut feeling and finding the right fit. Everyone wants you to go hire this person or that person based off a resume, but they have to trust me.

"I'm the caretaker of Tennessee football. I know what our players need, I know what this coaching staff needs, I know what this program needs as we continue to move forward, and we're going to get the best coach for Tennessee. I can assure you we will get the best of the best."

The names linked to Tennessee's opening include North Carolina State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, Southern California offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton and North Carolina co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer.

Canada had two long stints at Indiana, including as the offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2010, and made one-year stops at Northern Illinois in 2011 and Wisconsin, where he was on staff with Vols receivers coach Zach Azzanni, in 2012. He rejoined former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren at N.C. State in 2013.

After starting his coaching career at Duke and Houston, Helton spent 10 seasons at Memphis, where he coached running backs (2000-02) and receivers (2003-06) before taking over playcalling duties and the quarterbacks for three seasons. He's been at USC, under Lane Kiffin and then Steve Sarkisian, since 2010.

Brewer has SEC experience after three stints at Ole Miss, where he was the passing game coordinator in 2011, and coached at East Tennessee State and Marshall. His connection to Tennessee's current staff came at Oklahoma State, where he was on staff with current Vols running backs coach Robert Gillespie for two seasons in 2009 and 2010. Receivers are his specialty.

Jones said during Wednesday's radio interview he keeps a journal of coaches he respects at his desk for situations like the one he's in now, and he's hoping to find what he called "an expert of the game" to replace Bajakian.

"I'd like to know them," he said. "I think trust is big in our football program, and chemistry of a staff is very, very important. We have a lot of great, great candidates.

"Obviously it's a very attractive position, but for us it's finding the right fit for us and our football program as we continue to move forward."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.

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