Tennessee announces Hoke, Wells as football coaching assistants

Tennessee announces Hoke, Wells as football coaching assistants

February 8th, 2017 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2014, file photo, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, left, talks with defensive tackle Matthew Godin during warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Maryland in Ann Arbor, Mich. While keeping track on rivalries and games with playoff implication, there are a few coaching hot spots to keep an eye on this weekend. Another loss will put Michigan out of the postseason and make it three straight seasons of declining win totals under Hoke. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney looks on during a November practice.

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney looks on...

Photo by Patrick Brown /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee on Tuesday night formally announced the final two changes to its football coaching staff.

Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke will be the defensive line coach for the Volunteers as Steve Stripling moves from that job to director of football program development, a non-coaching role.

Walt Wells, who joined the Vols as a quality control coach last year, was promoted to offensive line coach to replace Don Mahoney, whose contract will not be renewed.

The staff in 2017 for Butch Jones' fifth season at Tennessee will include four new coaches, not including a new offensive coordinator in promoted tight ends coach Larry Scott.

"We feel extremely fortunate to get someone of Coach Hoke's caliber that will continue to develop our defensive linemen while also providing expertise and experience to all of our players and coaching staff," Jones said in a release. "He has an extensive track record of success as a head coach and on the defensive side of the ball. He will be a great fit to our entire organization.

"Coach Wells did a great job last season serving as a quality control coach on the offensive side of the ball, and we are looking forward to him taking over the offensive line. He has extensive experience as an offensive line coach and will do a great job with our players."

Hoke's two-year deal with Tennessee will pay him $500,000 per year, while Wells agreed to a two-year deal worth $300,000 per year. Stripling, whose contract expired this month, no longer will be under contract, and his salary in his new role will be released later. Tennessee has yet to release any contracts for the other new assistant coaches or Scott.

The Vols tabbed Charlton Warren to replace Willie Martinez as defensive backs coach and chose to promote Scott and hire Mike Canales as quarterbacks coach to fill the void left by departed offensive coordinator Mike DeBord.

Hoke began his coaching career as a defensive line coach at Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, Oregon State and Michigan before becoming the head coach at Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan.

He won coach-of-the-year honors in three conferences — the Mid-American, Mountain West and Big Ten — and spent the 2016 season as Oregon's defensive coordinator.

"Tennessee has a great tradition, a great program and a rabid fan base," he said in a statement. "That is something you always want to be involved with. To come here and be a part of this staff — Coach Jones and I have known each other a long time — it's something that we are very excited about and can't wait to get started."

The 63-year-old Stripling spent the past eight seasons as one of Jones' top assistants, and though he's leaving the full-time staff, he'll remain a fixture in Tennessee's program.

"Coach Stripling and I have a special relationship and I know how valuable a resource he is for myself and our coaching staff," Jones said. "This new position will allow him the opportunity to be involved in every facet of our football program, not just the defensive side or the defensive line room. Every coach and player will benefit greatly from Coach Strip."

Formerly the offensive line coach at South Florida, Western Kentucky and New Mexico State, Wells has his coaching roots in Middle Tennessee. He played for Austin Peay, earned a bachelor's degree at Belmont and coached at Smyrna High School and Cumberland University. This season he worked along Mahoney and was well-respected by the Vols' offensive linemen.

"I would like to thank Coach Jones for giving me this opportunity," Wells said. "I'm looking forward to getting to work with our offensive staff and our group of offensive linemen as we continue to develop in the spring. We have a solid nucleus of players returning and a group of young players eager to learn and make an impact this season."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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