Coaches that could be ideal in filling vacancy on Josh Heupel’s staff

·5 min read

Tennessee wide receivers coach Kodi Burns has joined the New Orleans Saints’ coaching staff in the same capacity.

Second-year head coach Josh Heupel will look to fill Burns’ vacancy on his coaching staff.

Following Burn’s departure, Vols Wire looks at offensive coaches with ties to Heupel that would be ideal in filling a vacancy on staff.

Some coaches are not wide receivers coaches, but Heupel could also shuffle his staff around to add a certain coach with ties to him or even promote someone already at Tennessee.

Individuals that are already within Tennessee’s program include offensive support staff personnel, Alec Abeln, Alex Fagan, Charlie High, Tyler Hudanick, Mitch Militello, Kelsey Pope and Jack Taylor.

Below are coaches with prior experience with Heupel and his staff that are not currently at Tennessee.

Kelly Bills

Dixie State football defeats the For Lewis Skyhawks 60-0 Saturday, March 27, 2021. Syndication: The Spectrum

Bills coached alongside Heupel as quality control working with quarterbacks and wide receivers at Utah State in 2015.

He served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Dixie State during the last two seasons. Bills played collegiately as a quarterback at Southern Utah and as a running back at BYU.

Brandon Blaney

Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Avery Williamson, left, knocks a ball away as defensive assistant Brandon Blaney runs players through a drill during NFL football training camp Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Blaney has served as Eastern Michigan’s tight ends coach since 2020 and co-offensive running game coordinator in 2021. He was an assistant with the Tennessee Titans from 2016-17.

Blaney was a graduate assistant working with Oklahoma’s offensive line from 1999-2000 when Heupel was the Sooners’ starting quarterback.

Jon Cooper

Joey Halzle, right, and Jon Cooper of Oklahoma walk off the field after their loss in the college football game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, Nov. 17, 2007. Texas Tech won 34-27. (AP Photo/The Daily Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)

Cooper played on the offensive line at Oklahoma from 2005-08 when Heupel served as the Sooners’ quarterbacks coach.

When Heupel was elevated to co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma from 2010-14, Cooper served as graduate assistant from 2013-14. Cooper followed Heupel to Utah State as a graduate assistant (2015), offensive analyst at Missouri (2016-17) and tight ends coach at UCF (2018-19).

After one season as Arkansas’ tight ends coach in 2020, Cooper served as offensive line coach at Western Carolina. He is now an offensive analyst at Oklahoma under offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

Tre Lamb

Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb passes against pressure from Oregon defenders during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Lamb was hired as Gardner–Webb’s head coach in Dec. 2019.

He came to Gardner–Webb from Tennessee Tech as offensive coordinator from 2018-19. In 2019, Kelsey Pope served as Lamb’s wide receivers coach at Tennessee Tech.

Lamb hired Pope to serve as his passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at Gardner-Webb. Pope departed Gardner-Webb as Heupel hired him as an offensive analyst at Tennessee.

Lamb served as quarterbacks coach at Mercer from 2014-17 and in the same capacity at Tennessee Tech in 2013. He played quarterback at Tennessee Tech from 2008-12 for head coach Watson Brown.

Phil Loadholt

Oct. 13, 2007; Norman, OK; Oklahoma Sooners offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (79) drops into pass protection against the Missouri Tigers at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The Sooners beat the Tigers 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Loadholt served as an offensive analyst at Ole Miss in 2021 under offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

The Honolulu, Hawaii native played offensive tackle at Oklahoma for Heupel from 2007-08 after transferring from Garden City Community College. He was a second round NFL draft selection in 2009.

Loadholt is now serving as an offensive analyst at Oklahoma under Lebby.

Jake Thornton

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Thornton is in his second season as Ole Miss’ offensive line coach. He came to Ole Miss after serving as running game coordinator and offensive line coach at Gardner Webb (2020) and Tennessee Tech (2018-19) under Lamb and alongside Pope.

Anthony Tucker

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tucker is in his second season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Utah State. He coached under Heupel as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach in 2020, passing game coordinator and running backs coach in 2019, and running backs coach during the 2018 campaign at UCF.

Tucker served as running backs coach at Maryland from 2016-17 under Walt Bell. He also served as running backs and wide receivers coach at Arkansas State from 2013-15 under Bell and Vols’ assistant Glen Elarbee.

Luke Wells

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Wells served as tight ends and inside receivers coach at Texas Tech from 2019-21.

He served as co-offensive coordinator, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator alongside Heupel at Utah State in 2015. Wells was also alongside Heupel at Oklahoma as a student assistant from 1999-2000 when the Tennessee head coach guided the Sooners to a BCS national championship as a starting quarterback.

Matt Wells

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Wells served as Texas Tech’s head coach from 2019-21 and in the same capacity at Utah State between 2013-18. Heupel served as Wells’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015 at Utah State.

He served as wide receivers coach at New Mexico (2007-08, 2010) and Navy (1997-2001).

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