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Ohio State Athletics photo / Al Washington, Ohio State's linebackers coach the past two seasons, has been targeted by new Tennessee coach Josh Heupel as a potential defensive coordinator of the Volunteers.

In an interview last Thursday on Sirius XM's ESPNU Radio, new Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel said he would be close to having "all of our full-time positions filled up" by this past Monday.

That obviously was a bit aggressive.

It's hard to hire position coaches without a coordinator first, and Heupel has reportedly been making a recent run at Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington to guide Volunteers defenders. The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday afternoon that the 36-year-old Washington is scheduled to make $515,000 for the 2021 season, but multiple media outlets have reported that Tennessee could be offering a three-year deal for at least $1.2 million annually and that Washington was mulling over his decision Tuesday night.

Derrick Ansley, Tennessee's defensive coordinator this past season, made $1 million.

Washington has spent the past two seasons working with Ohio State linebackers after having the same role at rival Michigan. The 2018 Wolverines ranked third nationally in total defense, while the 2019 Buckeyes led the nation in four defensive categories, including total defense and fewest passing yards allowed.

This past season's Ohio State team played Alabama for the national championship, losing 52-24, and Washington would have entirely new starters if he remains in Columbus.

"We've got a great group," Washington told The Dispatch in December. "Who will start? We'll leave it up to the players. They'll decide that, but I'm very excited about where we're heading — very much so."

Washington has been the lead recruiter on four Buckeyes commitments, including two linebackers, who are top-150 national prospects in the 2022 cycle.

Tennessee, meanwhile, has found itself in train-wreck status after a 3-7 season was accompanied by the termination of head coach Jeremy Pruitt, outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer. The trio was fired following a university investigation revealed multiple NCAA Level I and Level II violations.

The three starting linebackers for the Vols against Texas A&M in the season finale — Henry To'o To'o, Quavaris Crouch and Deandre Johnson — have since entered the transfer portal, with Johnson transferring to Miami.

As a player, Washington was a three-year starting defensive tackle for Boston College. He played for the Eagles from 2002-05, finishing his career with 74 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Boston College won at least eight games in each of Washington's four seasons and won all four bowl games as well.

 

Doyle picks Memphis

Former Tennessee punter Joe Doyle, the 2018 freshman All-America selection who was beaten out by Paxton Brooks a year later and entered the NCAA transfer portal early last week, revealed Memphis as his destination Tuesday night.

"Thank you Tennessee for letting me live out my dream," Doyle posted on Twitter. "To my coaches, teammates, and fans, thank you for your support and encouragement throughout the last four years. With that being said, I have committed to The University of Memphis. I'm excited to join the Tiger family!"

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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