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Funny how coaching hires in today's college football world can be revealed by 17- and 18-year-olds.

Tennessee has yet to announce any assistants for new head coach Josh Heupel, but Glen Elarbee certainly seems to be working for the Volunteers. Elarbee was Heupel's offensive line coach at the University of Central Florida the past three seasons.

News of Elarbee's apparent switch came from Austin Uke, a three-star offensive tackle in this 2021 recruiting cycle from Dallas, who posted on Twitter, "I'm excited to announce I've been offered a full scholarship to play football at Tennessee!!" His message included Elarbee's Twitter account.

Hiring Elarbee would come as no surprise given UCF's offensive success the past three seasons and Heupel making it clear an Orlando-to-Knoxville pipeline was quite possible.

"We'll consider staff members from Central Florida. We'll do that," Heupel said during Wednesday afternoon's introductory news conference.

Elarbee is no stranger to the Volunteer State, having earned Sun Belt Conference honors his final two seasons at Middle Tennessee State and having helped the Blue Raiders to their first Sun Belt title in 2001. He began his coaching career with the Blue Raiders, first as a graduate assistant and then as their tight ends coach, while the last several years have produced successful stints at Houston, Arkansas State, Missouri and UCF.

During Elarbee's first season at Mizzou, with Heupel serving as offensive coordinator under head coach Barry Odom, the 2016 Tigers had no returning starters up front but developed into the nation's No. 13 offense by averaging 500.5 yards per game. Elarbee was the only offensive line coach nationally nominated for that season's Broyles Award as college football's top assistant.

Mizzou's 2017 offense finished seventh in the country both in yardage and fewest sacks allowed.

In his time at UCF, Elarbee helped the Knights set a single-season rushing record in 2018 with 3,448 yards, which resulted in him being a Broyles Award semifinalist. UCF set a program record in 2019 with 540.5 total yards per game and broke that standard this past season with 568.1 a contest.

Heupel may not retain any of Tennessee's assistants from the Jeremy Pruitt era. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke were let go Friday, according to 247Sports.com.

Weinke and Heupel finished 1-2 in the 2000 Heisman Trophy voting, with Heupel's Oklahoma Sooners defeating Weinke's Florida State's Seminoles in that season's BCS national championship game.

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Glen Elarbee

Cimaglia leaving

Tennessee's player exodus via the NCAA transfer portal now includes a kicker.

Brent Cimaglia announced Friday that he would use the NCAA's extra year of eligibility elsewhere in 2021. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior from Nashville battled a leg injury this past season and opted out of the final two games against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.

After making 23 of 27 field-goal attempts as a junior in 2019 and earning preseason All-Southeastern Conference recognition this past summer, Cimaglia was just 5-of-9 during Tennessee's 3-7 debacle.

"It is time for me to move forward in the best interest of me and my family," Cimaglia posted on Twitter. "I want to thank you for everything, Vol Nation. You will always be part of my life."

Cimaglia made 88 of 89 career extra-point attempts, with his lone miss occurring this past season in the final minute of his final game against Florida.

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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Tennessee's Brent Cimaglia attemps a field goal from the hold of Joe Doyle during the 2019 season opener against Georgia State in Knoxville.

Brown's 'Free Me'

Cody Brown, the Atlanta-area running back who signed with Tennessee in December, posted "Free Me" on Twitter early Friday afternoon.

The 6-foot, 217-pounder from Parkview High School in Lilburn was a four-star prospect and the No. 10 running back nationally in the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Brown is not among Tennessee's 11 early enrollees.

 

Gillespie to Tide

Robert Gillespie, who was Tennessee's running backs coach during the Butch Jones era from 2013-17, was announced Friday as the new running backs coach at Alabama.

Gillespie has spent the past three seasons at North Carolina, where he worked a year under Larry Fedora and the past two seasons under Mack Brown.

"From his playing days at Florida to the numerous running backs he has developed throughout his career, Robert has been successful at every stop," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He is an excellent teacher, an outstanding recruiter and coaches with great passion and enthusiasm."

Gillespie guided two of the nation's top running backs this past season, with Michael Carter (1,245) and Javonte Williams (1,140) each surpassing 1,000 yards. One of his top talents at Tennessee, Alvin Kamara, was the NFL's 2017 offensive rookie of the year.

 

Back and forth

New Tennessee athletic director Danny White said Wednesday that news of Heupel being the favorite for the job Tuesday night surprised him and that he would work to prevent such leaks from happening in the future.

On Friday, Steven Godfrey of the Banner Society website posted on Twitter, "Was just told Tennessee sent out an internal memo announcing an investigation into 'multiple leaks' during Danny White's coaching search, as White has never dealt with a leak during a coaching search and suffered multiple here."

White responded to Godfrey on Twitter.

"I'd love to see a copy of that 'memo!'" White posted. "I don't have the time or interest to launch any sort of 'investigation.' Busy trying to make Tennessee better!"

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

 

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