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University of Georgia photo by John Kelley / Former Georgia inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler, shown here shouting instructions from the sideline in 2015, will be the new special teams coordinator at Tennessee.

Tennessee has targeted North Texas special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler for the same role with the Volunteers.

The hiring of Ekeler would round out Josh Heupel's inaugural 10-member coaching staff.

Ekeler is no stranger to the Southeastern Conference, serving as Georgia's inside linebackers coach during Mark Richt's final two seasons with the Bulldogs in 2014-15. Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson and UAB transfer Jake Ganus were the notable inside linebackers Ekeler worked with during his time in Athens, with Georgia's 2015 defense allowing just 305.8 yards per game to rank seventh nationally.

In addition to inside linebackers coach, Ekeler also had the title of defensive special teams coordinator while at Georgia.

Ekeler became the defensive coordinator at North Texas in 2016 but then left to become North Carolina's linebackers coach for the 2017-18 seasons. He was the inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator for Kansas in 2019, the debut season with Les Miles as head coach of the Jayhawks, before returning to North Texas in January 2020.

When Miles was LSU's head coach, Ekeler worked for him as a graduate assistant from 2005-07. The Tigers won the national championship in 2007.

Ekeler played at Kansas State from 1991-94 and was a team captain his senior season.

In other Tennessee football news, A.J. Artis, the head strength coach this past season, is leaving for South Florida. Kurt Schmidt, who has followed Heupel from Central Florida, will have that role for 2021.

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

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