Tennessee offensive line coach Harry Hiestand could be leaving Rocky Top for the Golden Dome as he is in the hunt for a similar position on Brian Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame according to a published report.
Should Hiestand bolt after just his second year with the Vol program, he’d be the fifth assistant coach to leave Derek Dooley’s staff since UT’s season-ending loss to Kentucky.
The biggest hole to fill on the Tennessee staff is still the defensive coordinator position, vacated when Justin Wilcox left for the University of Washington last week.
Dooley hopes to fill that void soon with Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri in Knoxville Wednesday to interview for the position. Sunseri helped the Crimson Tide capture their second BCS national title in three years Monday night in New Orleans.
With a 21-0 shellacking of previously unbeaten LSU, Sunseri’s linebackers helped lead the nation’s top-ranked defense to the first shutout in the 14-year history of the BCS national championship game.
Not having been a defensive coordinator since a two-year stint at Alabama A&M in 1998-99, the 52-year-old Sunseri is known as a strong recruiter.
Before joining Nick Saban’s staff in 2009, Sunseri was a defensive line coach for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for six years. He was honored this year as a nominee for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant.
According to a Washington Post report Wednesday, Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green is scheduled to interview for the Vols’ opening today. A former head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (1994-99), Green has also coached at LSU and North Carolina State before leading the Midshipman defense for the past 10 years. Ranked 87th nationally defensively, Navy finished 5-7 this season.
Dooley is hoping to fill the position as the National Signing Day quickly approaches on Feb. 1.
Not only have four assistant coaches departed Tennessee since the season’s end, so have some players, with sophomore wide receiver Matt Milton becoming the latest.
Milton’s coach at Mascoutah High School told the Belleville (Ill.) News Democrat Tuesday that the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Milton was transferring to Louisville to be closer to home, due to a “family illness.” Scott Battas told the paper Milton was looking for more playing time. In going to Louisville, Milton will join with Cardinals offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who recruited him two years ago while at Nebraska.
Milton confirmed his plans via Twitter Tuesday, posting “Thanks for all the love [and] support. Tough decision but I’m happy to a riding with the cardinal nation! Mind on the mission.”
After playing in just four games his freshman season, Milton appeared in six games this season and made the lone catch of his career, a 12-yard reception at Florida in September. He was one of four players suspended for violating team rules the week before the season-ending loss to Kentucky.
This is the second such recent departure as receiver DeAnthony Arnett transferred to Michigan State last week to be closer to his sick father.
In some good news for the Vols, Immokalee (Fla.) High School junior cornerback Mackensie Alexander verbally committed to UT Wednesday, becoming the second commitment for the class of 2013. The 5-11, 175-pounder also had early scholarship offers from Florida, Ohio State, South Carolina and Miami.
Bradley Central offensive lineman Austin Sanders became UT’s first 2013 public commitment back in the fall.