Tennessee only had one departure from the coaching staff this offseason, although it was a big one. Offensive coordinator Alex Golesh left to take the head coaching job at South Florida, cashing in on two big years of production in Knoxville.
The move obviously left Josh Heupel without an offensive coordinator, which he filled with a simple promotion of quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle. The departure of Golesh also left Tennessee without a tight ends coach, however.
After several weeks, Heupel finally made a move to fill his lone opening on staff today. Alec Abeln got the call this afternoon, getting the promotion to become an on-field coach. Abeln will be the new tight ends coach for Tennessee in 2023.
Matt Zenitz of On3 had the news today.
Tennessee is expected to hire Alec Abeln as tight ends coach, sources tell @on3sports.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) February 2, 2023
Abeln has worked at Tennessee as an analyst since 2021 after previously working at Ole Miss. He was an offensive lineman at Missouri when Josh Heupel was Mizzou’s OC. https://t.co/DlIXY67ten pic.twitter.com/K5wKsUHC2D
As Zenitz points out, Abeln was an offensive lineman at Missouri during Heupel’s time at Missouri. He spent time at Ole Miss with Lane Kiffin before arriving at Tennessee as an analyst. Abeln got his start in the coaching ranks by following Heupel to UCF back in 2017.
Heupel now puts his full trust in Abeln, hiring him as an on-field coach and putting recruiting responsibilities on his shoulders for the very first time.
This isn’t anything new for Heupel. He promoted from within with Halzle this year, and did the same with Kelsey Pope a year ago to replace Kodi Burns as the receivers coach.
Tennessee will be replacing Princeton Fant at tight end in 2023 — a guy that became pretty important to the offense. Veteran Jacob Warren will be back for one more year, while former four-star prospect Miles Sanders exited via the transfer portal. McCallan Castles joins via the portal, and highly-ranked Ethan Davis enters the picture from the class of 2023.