Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced a new defensive coordinator on Friday during a press conference. Derrick Ansley was reportedly hired last week to replace Terry Fair, but as it turns out, Ansley will become Pruitt’s new defensive coordinator.
Pruitt placed Kevin Sherrer as the new special teams coordinator, removing him from his defensive coordinator post.
“Derrick Ansley is going to be our defensive coordinator,” Jeremy Pruitt announced on Friday afternoon. “He’s going to coach the defensive backs and he’ll have all four guys. Kevin Sherrer is going to move from defensive coordinator to special teams coach and inside linebackers coach.”
Ansley obviously has ties to Pruitt, working with him at Alabama when Pruitt was the defensive coordinator. Ansley will make one million annually over the next three seasons in Knoxville.
“Derrick Ansley was a graduate assistant for me for two years, then the defensive backs coach (at Alabama)” Pruitt said. “We’re very familiar with each other. I think it’s good to work from the back to the front. He brings a lot of experience and has coached a lot of good players. Probably when I start a sentence, he can finish it.”
“Derrick’s been in high demand for the last several years,” Pruitt continued. “He was the highest paid defensive backs coach in the NFL after only being there (Oakland) for one year. He’s a guy that’s ready for this and has been for some time. With Derrick and Kevin, Chris and Tracy in one room, I can already see the cohesiveness together. They communicate well together — they’ve all worked together.”
“Derrick will call the defense this fall.”
Tennessee jumped up in total defense, working with an extremely young secondary in 2018. The Vols went from 82nd in 2017, to 49th in 2018 with Pruitt calling the shots. He’ll hand the keys to Ansley this season, but you can bet he’ll still be plenty involved on that side of the football.
“I’m kind of the fifth assistant on defensive side of the ball,” Pruitt said. “We’ve got somebody in charge of every position, so I can bounce around if there’s something that needs to be tweaked or fixed.”
Pruitt compared his role on the defense to that of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who will have the ability to coach each position group on his side of the ball.
Ansley is just the latest example of the Tennessee administration going all in for Jeremy Pruitt. Whatever he’s needed financially, he’s gotten to this point. Tennessee opened up the checkbook to get Jim Chaney back to Knoxville. They’ve now done the same with Ansley.
Pruitt now has a staff full of SEC experience, along with rockstar recruiters. It’s tough not to be excited about where this staff can take the program over the next few years.