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Russ Huesman walks away from his last press conference Thursday at McKenzie Arena.

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Departing Huesman says UTC coaching position 'a top-10 job'

At some point, new challenges are needed. Russ Huesman was ready for one.

The eight-year University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach ended his first head coaching stint Thursday with a news conference, in which he expressed gratitude to the city for its support throughout his time at his alma mater.

Now he takes his 59-37 career record to Richmond, essentially leaving one top-10 Football Championship Subdivision program for another, with by reliable accounts some extra compensation — but also a number of special memories, such as the win over The Citadel in 2015 to clinch a share of the program's third consecutive Southern Conference championship.

"You can win here, and win big here," Huesman said. "I'll get forgotten pretty quickly, as soon as the next guy comes in and does a great job."

Huesman became emotional numerous times during the news conference. In his eight seasons, he took a program that was 1-11 in 2008 and lost its last 10 games to seven winning seasons during his tenure, three Southern Conference championships and three FCS playoff appearances.

"Our administration said they were going to fix this program, and they put the resources into it and gave me the opportunity," Huesman said. "It's a top-10 job and it's going attract some unbelievable candidates.

"It wasn't that hard to fix here because of the resources."

Huesman plans to take a few of his assistants with him to Richmond, including offensive coordinator Jeff Durden and defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite and possibly offensive line coach Adam Ross.

He doesn't, however, plan to sway any of the 11 players currently committed to UTC for the 2017 signing class.

As for the UTC coaching search, administrators have had phone conversations with a number of potential candidates. They plan to start face-to-face interviews today with Durden and linebacker/special teams coach Rusty Wright, and there could be a new coach in place over the weekend.

Both have other situations occurring simultaneously. Durden interviewed for the LaFayette College opening and could be in play there as well as going with Huesman to Richmond.

If Wright does not get the head coaching job at UTC, he already has agreed to go to Georgia State to be the linebackers coach.

Mocs All-Americans

UTC graduating seniors Corey Levin and Keionta Davis were named second-team Associated Press All-Americans for the second straight season Thursday.

Levin was a four-year starter on the offensive line and became the fifth Moc to be named a three-time All-American, joining Davis Tull (2011-14), Pumpy Tudors (1988-91), Carey Henley (1959-61) and Billy Butler (1956-58). Levin started 51 games as a Moc and was a two-time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Award as the top offensive lineman in the SoCon.

Davis, a two-time All-American, led the SoCon in sacks in 2016 with 10.5 and was voted defensive player of the year. He finished second all-time in school history with 31 sacks and finished ninth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the FCS.

He has been invited to the Reese's Senior Bowl in January.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.

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