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Tennessee Athletics photo by Andrew Ferguson / New Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel speaks during Wednesday afternoon's introductory news conference in Knoxville.

Josh Heupel's first full day as Tennessee's head football coach did not contain any announcements on the assistant coaching front.

Heupel is in the process of assembling a 10-member staff that is willing to face the same task of rebuilding a once-proud program that is 78-82 over the past 13 seasons and is staring at a multitude of NCAA Level I and Level II violations with a roster that has thinned in recent days through the NCAA transfer portal.

"It's important that we put together a staff at the right time and that we get the right people more than it is simply about the urgency of putting the staff together," Heupel said Wednesday afternoon during his introductory news conference, "but we want to do it in a timely fashion."

College football's traditional signing day is next Wednesday, though nearly 80% of prospects sign with Power Five programs during December's early period. Tennessee wound up announcing 20 signees last month, including 11 who have enrolled early.

Both 247Sports.com and Football Scoop reported Thursday that Heupel is looking to bring quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle, tight ends coach Alex Golesh and offensive line Glen Elarbee from his staff this past season at the University of Central Florida. The Knights averaged 568.1 yards and 42.2 points during the 2020 season.

The futures of Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and new defensive assistant Kevin Steele in Knoxville are in doubt, with Football Scoop reporting each would not be retained. Steele, the former Auburn defensive coordinator, earlier this month agreed to a two-year contract that would pay him a guaranteed $900,000.

If Heupel and Steele have indeed parted ways, Steele has wound up making more in two weeks at Tennessee than Dr. Anthony Fauci makes in two years.

 

Future Vols foes

Tennessee has announced three nonconference games for upcoming seasons, with the Volunteers scheduled to host the University of Tennessee at Martin on Oct. 22, 2022, and Austin Peay (Sept. 9) and UTSA (Sept. 23) in 2023.

The nonconference portions of Tennessee's next three schedules are now set, with the Vols scheduled to face Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, Tennessee Tech and South Alabama this year. The Vols have a nonconference lineup of Ball State, Pittsburgh, Army and UT-Martin in 2022, while their nonconference slate in 2023 is Brigham Young University, Austin Peay, Texas-San Antonio and Connecticut.

All of Tennessee's nonconference games the next three years will be in Neyland Stadium, with the exception of the 2022 trip to Pitt and the 2023 journey to BYU.

 

Stockton to UGA

Georgia continued its pipeline of top quarterback recruits on Thursday by receiving a commitment from in-state talent Gunner Stockton, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder from Rabun County High School. Stockton, who committed to South Carolina last August before opening up his recruitment last month, is the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2022 class, according to 247Sports.com.

"COMMITTED GO DAWGS," Stockton posted on Twitter.

Should Stockton do the expected and sign with the Bulldogs later this year, he would follow Brock Vandagriff (five-star signee in 2021 cycle), Carson Beck (four-star in 2020), D'Wan Mathis (four-star in 2019), Justin Fields (five-star in 2018), Jake Fromm (four-star in 2017) and Jacob Eason (five-star in 2016) in a string of talented quarterbacks who at least began their careers in Athens. Eason, Fields and Mathis wound up transferring from Georgia, while Fromm guided the Bulldogs to three consecutive SEC East titles (2017-19).

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

 

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