Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop isn’t just the teacher. He’s also a student after being hired by the Vols in January.
Shoop and his defensive players are trying to learn from one another. That process began in the offseason when Shoop, who was hired from Penn State, met with each defensive player for 30 minutes to get to know them and the program. Upperclassmen were a valuable resource, especially junior defensive end Derek Barnett, senior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and senior cornerback Cameron Sutton.
“For guys like Derek Barnett or Jalen Reeves-Maybin or Cam Sutton, I was more the listener,” Shoop said Thursday. “Listening to what they had to say, giving me feedback, which was really helpful.”
Sutton also addressed the give-and-take between coach and players.
“(Shoop is) always available, anytime throughout the day, anytime at night,” Sutton said. “You can watch film, bond with him and get close to him. He’s been very coachable with us as far as learning the standards of expectations. While we’re teaching him, he’s also teaching us become better men on and off the field as well.”
The main challenge in the transition has been developing a new terminology for the defense, which will be a combination of Shoop’s past experiences and what is already in place. It hasn’t always been easy. Shoop recalled having a conversation about terminology with sophomore linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.
“At first we were saying the same thing, but he was speaking German and I was speaking Portuguese,” Shoop said. “It was one of those deals. Now, we’re learning a common ground and a common communication. That’s really been kind of fun over the last month and a half.”
With high expectations, Shoop was tabbed to replace former defensive coordinator John Jancek, who had coached at Tennessee for three seasons.
“I can’t be a previous coordinator,” Shoop said. “I can’t be anything other than who I am. That would be selling myself short and selling everything short. It’s really just trying to find my identity and how it fits in and trying to be an ultimate teammate and help team 120 maximize their ability.”