KNOXVILLE - Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley is back in search mode.
Less than a week after filling one vacancy on his coaching staff, the Volunteers' second-year coach has another one to fill. A source close to the football program told the Times Free Press on Sunday afternoon that special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Eric Russell was leaving UT to join the staff at Washington State. Russell will reunite with new Cougars coach Mike Leach, with whom he coached at Texas Tech in 2009, in a move that could be announced Monday.
Before joining Leach in Lubbock, Russell spent two years on Dooley's staff at Louisiana Tech and joined Dooley when he was hired at UT in 2010. Russell was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award that's given to the nation's top assistant coach during his year with the Red Raiders. Under Russell, the Vols' coverage units improved, and UT didn't allow a punt or kickoff return touchdown until the ninth game of the season at Arkansas, which was the latest in the season the Vols have gone since 2005.
Dooley has made one staff move already this offseason. He hired former UT tailback Jay Graham to coach the Vols' running backs and replace receivers coach Charlie Baggett. The Times Free Press reported Baggett elected to retire after two seasons at UT, but in the school's official release announcing Graham's hire, no reason was given.
Though it has not been officially announced, quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw is expected to take over as receivers' coach.
More on this story in Monday's Times Free Press.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...