Tennessee’s strength coach situation has been finalized. A.J. Artis, Jeremy Pruitt’s director of football performance, had been hanging around on staff during the transition to Josh Heupel. However, with the reported hire of Kurt Schmidt, the writing was on the wall for Artis.
On Monday, Artis accepted the same position at South Florida. On Tuesday, Tennessee officially announced the hire of Kurt Schmidt to his position. Schmidt is the latest to follow Heupel to Tennessee from UCF.
Schmidt has has worked under Heupel for the last four seasons, helping to mold and shape a roster that plays in a uniquely fast way. He holds 19 years of experience in the strength and conditioning world, working at both the college and NFL level. Schmidt spent time with Heupel at Missouri after working for the San Francisco 49ers. He’s also made stops at Memphis, Louisville, Arkansas and Utah State after getting his start with Yale.
It will be the third strength coach in as many years for Tennessee. Artis took over for Craig Fitzgerald in 2020, following Fitzgerald’s departure to the New York Giants.
Now enters Kurt Schmidt, who will likely be tasked with trimming down some players in the trenches for Tennessee. Jim Chaney and Jeremy Pruitt valued that size, but with the pace we’re about to see, odds are you’re going to have a bit of a leaner group on the offensive front.
Continuity in the strength program is a big deal, and it’s something Tennessee hasn’t had in a long time. Schmidt clearly fits with Heupel, so keeping him in place during such a dramatic transition makes a lot of sense.