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Reports: Tennessee hiring Willie Martinez as defensive backs coach

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NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Kentucky at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another rumored assistant for Josh Heupel’s staff appears to be coming to fruition. Willie Martinez, a former Tennessee assistant and longtime SEC defensive coach, is headed back to Knoxville. Both Pete Thamel and John Brice are reporting that the deal is done.

Martinez coached under Butch Jones at Tennessee from 2013-2016. According to Brice, he will coach cornerbacks, joining new defensive coordinator Tim Banks, who will also coach the safeties. Both Banks and Martinez have previous experience as defensive coordinators, with Martinez serving as Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2005-2009.

Martinez has been in the college ranks since the mid-80s. After leaving Tennessee in 2017, he joined the Cincinnati staff, before jumping to Josh Heupel’s staff at UCF in 2018. He’s served as the secondary coach and assistant head coach since then, and will now follow Heupel to Knoxville.

He’s the second SEC veteran to join the Tennessee staff, joining Rodney Garner, who will coach the defensive line.

Martinez will receive a two-year deal at Tennessee, per Brice.