After speculation that other schools could hire away some of Tennessee’s assistant coaches, it happened on Tuesday.
Tennessee special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Mark Elder was named Eastern Kentucky’s head coach, according to a tweet by the school’s Twitter account.
— EKU Sports (@EKUSports) December 8, 2015
Elder has had a strong run in his three seasons at Tennessee since coming with Jones from Cincinnati.
The Vols were widely thought of as having one of the best special teams units in the nation. Sophomore kick returner Evan Berry averaged 38.3 yards per return, which led the nation, and returned three kickoffs for a touchdown this season. Junior Cameron Sutton ranked second in the nation in punt return average with 18.7-yards per return and scored twice on punt returns this season. However, special teams are coached by several different Tennessee coaches, so it’s hard to determine just who has the strongest influence on any one phase of the kicking game.
Elder also helped develop tight end Ethan Wolf. The sophomore caught 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in 2015. Elder is also considered a valuable recruiter.
Elder isn’t the only Tennessee assistant with coaching options outside of Knoxville. Passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni has been reported as a candidate for the offensive coordinator position at Maryland after D.J. Durkin was hired last week.
Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez could have an opportunity at Miami, where his good friend, Mark Richt, was hired last week after parting ways with UGA.