Josh Heupel rounded out his year three coaching staff on Thursday, promoting Alec Abeln to tight ends coach. Abeln, a former Missouri offensive lineman, will fill the final on-field spot for Tennessee following the departure of Alex Golesh to South Florida.
Joey Halzle is the new offensive coordinator, while Abeln gets the tight ends coach title.
Abeln followed Heupel to UCF after his playing career, working as an analyst. He followed Jeff Lebby to Ole Miss before returning to Heupel at Tennessee ahead of the 2021 season.
Tennessee officially announced the hire on Thursday evening.
“Alec has played an integral role in our offensive staff room over the past two years, and we are excited to elevate him to tight ends coach,” Josh Heupel said. “Alec played for me and has been a part of our staff at multiple programs. He is detail-oriented with a relentless work ethic. He has built great relationships among our players and staff. Alec is eager to get on the field, and I know we will continue to raise the standard of our tight end unit under his watch.”
Abeln worked closely with the offensive line and has been involved in the offensive game-planning for the past two seasons. He now shifts to an on-field role, meaning he will be tasked with heading out on the recruiting trail for the very first time.
“I am grateful to Coach Heupel for this opportunity,” Abeln said. “I have an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for our players and our staff, and I am excited to get on the field with our tight ends. Coach Heupel has established a clear standard of who we want to be as a team, and I will work tirelessly to ensure we uphold it. I look forward to helping our tight ends reach their potential, while also making an impact on the recruiting trail.”
Abeln returns veteran tight end Jacob Warren to lead his room, but will have replace Princeton Fant. McCallan Castles joins via the portal, along with four-star Ethan Davis. In the class of 2024, Tennessee already has a commitment from five-star tight end Jonathan Echols.
We’ll likely get to know Abeln a little better during the spring, as Heupel typically rotates his staff through press conference responsibilities.