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Former Tennessee assistants land new roles in the NFL

A lot of movement.

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The coaching carousel has wrapped up at both the college and pro level, and a handful of familiar names with Tennessee ties were a big part of the shuffle. Two of them received calls to become coordinators, while another made a lateral move across the country.

Jim Bob Cooter — Offensive Coordinator, Colts

The former backup quarterback with one of the best names in the history of Tennessee football quickly made the jump into coaching once his playing career was done. Cooter became a grad-assistant at Tennessee in 2007, but quickly made the jump to the NFL ranks in 2009 with the Colts. 14 years later, he’s set to return to Indianapolis as the offensive coordinator.

Cooter will join Shane Steichen’s new staff, as both look to get the Colts back on track. He comes over from a short stint in Jacksonville, where he was the passing game coordinator. Cooter was the offensive coordinator in Detroit from 2016-2018.

A one time hot name in coaching circle, Cooter will now look to get back to that point. He’s got a challenge ahead of him, but he likely will get plenty of input on the next direction that the Colts will go at quarterback. Indianapolis holds the 4th pick in the NFL Draft, and they’ve been linked to potential trades with the Bears to move up to No. 1 overall. Bryce Young, Will Levis, CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson could all be the guy that Steichen and Cooter choose to lead the Colts forward.

Derrick Ansley — Defensive Coordinator, Chargers

Following the departure of Renaldo Hill, Derrick Ansley now owns the title of defensive coordinator in Los Angeles with the Chargers. The Chargers officially announced the move on Monday. Ansley, a former Tennessee and Alabama assistant coach, had been serving as the secondary coach prior to the promotion.

Ansley played safety for Troy in the early 2000s, starting 40 games for the Trojans. He started his climb up the coaching ladder after that, ultimately landing as Jeremy Pruitt’s defensive coordinator at Tennessee in 2019 and 2020. Ansley went back to the pro level following Pruitt’s removal in Knoxville stemming from recruiting violations.

Zach Azzanni — Wide Receivers Coach, Jets

Former Tennessee wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni will move from the Broncos to the Jets this offseason, taking the same role in New York. The 46 year old assistant worked under Butch Jones at Tennessee from 2013-2016, before moving to the Chicago Bears in 2017. Under Jones, Azzanni also held the title of recruiting coordinator and passing game coordinator.

Azzanni now inherits one of the best young receiving threats in the league, getting a chance to coach Garrett Wilson fresh off of his offensive rookie of the year season. The Jets have been widely rumored to be in the quarterback market, which would certainly help boost Azzanni’s stock if they could land an Aaron Rodgers or even Derek Carr.