Josh Heupel’s staff is reportedly complete. The ninth and final assistant on the Tennessee staff will be Mike Ekeler, first reported by Austin Price. Ekeler will handle special teams duties, along with helping out on the defensive side of the ball.
BREAKING: Tennessee is finalizing the final piece to Josh Heupel’s first staff. @CoachEkelerUNT is set to lead Tennessee’s special teams and help on the defensive side of the ball. ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/ZbnvqkeJlK— Austin Price (@AustinPriceless) March 2, 2021
Ekeler and Heupel were graduate assistants together at Oklahoma in 2004. Ekeler spent time with Les Miles at LSU in 2007, before jumping to Nebraska with Bo Pelini after that. He’s worked at USC, Indiana, North Carolina and Georgia, even spending time with Jeremy Pruitt in 2014-15 in Athens as a linebackers coach.
In 2020, Ekeler was with North Texas in his second stint with the Mean Green. Ekeler was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at North Texas in 2016.
Ekeler will assist the defensive staff, which consists of defensive coordinator Tim Banks, secondary coach Willie Martinez, defensive line coach Rodney Garner and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary.
Kevin Steele remains employed by Tennessee following a truly bizarre deal with the previous regime, but he must be let go before the Ekeler hire can be announced.
So Heupel’s staff is now reportedly complete with a versatile assistant, now we wait for the official announcement. We should have a chance to see this entire staff working together soon, with spring football on the horizon.