Tennessee and Robert Gillespie part ways
News broke yesterday that Vols running backs coach Robert Gillespie is leaving Tennessee. This was a surprising move, as Gillespie was the one guy from Butch Jones’ coaching staff that had not been dismissed, so it seemed like he would be around for the long term or at least through the end of the last year of his contract. But instead, he’s gone.
Per sources, Gillespie did not mesh with Pruitt and the Vols’ new staff. In part of his culture change identified as necessary to push Tennessee forward, Pruitt found what sources said were “stale” mindsets.
I have to say that I did notice some palpable awkwardness at the Knoxville post signing day event when Gillespie and Jeremy Pruitt were both asked about Gillespie staying on. They said the right things, but there was no expected mutual gushing.
The initial reports are that former Florida State quarterback and Alabama analyst Chris Weinke is the guy to watch to replace Gillespie.
Oh, and player personnel director Bob Welton, who’s been on Tennessee’s staff since 2013, is also leaving. But FSU defensive quality control coach Bert Biffani is arriving. I know that we fans generally have no clue about the guys in these kinds of support positions, but I’m becoming more and more convinved that they matter — a lot — after seeing Alabama’s press box filled with an army of clipboard-carrying dudes nobody’s ever heard of. I’m glad to see Tennessee getting into the arms race.
Coach Pruitt has outlined his plan for spring practice, and it’s a bit different than it has been in the past. The team will be practicing three days per week over a five week period, which will give the players a day in between practices to internalize the new things they’re being taught. They’re also going to sort of double up and continue to lift like it’s the offseason even during spring practice. Spring practice begins on March 20 and ends with the Orange and White Game on April 21.
Pruit is super high on 3-star defensive back Trevon Flowers, calling him the “steal of this class.” Flowers didn’t play football at all in high school until his senior year and yet has the skill set to play any of the six defensive back positions.
NFL Draft analyst Chris Landry identifies VFL John Kelly as a potential sleeper, one who “has a chance to be a better pro than he was in college.” He also says that Kelly was criminally underused, so there’s that.
VFL Johnny Majors is going to receive the Doak Walker Legends Award this week in Dallas.
And finally, former athletic director John Currie told agent Jimmy Sexton that Lane Kiffin “will never be the head coach as long as I’m the athletics director here.” He was right about that, he just didn’t know that he’d only be athletic director for a couple more weeks.