KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — North Carolina defensive backs coach Charlton Warren has emerged as a candidate for the Tennessee football staff, a source with knowledge of the situation told SECcountry.com.
Vols coach Butch Jones made it clear he wouldn’t stand pat after a 9-4 season and put everyone on notice that changes were coming in Knoxville.
Tennessee finalized the hiring of former Los Angeles Rams strength coach Rock Gullikson last week, and changes are expected on the defensive staff after the team finished 95th in total defense.
First-year defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said before the Music City Bowl that he and Jones had discussed moving forward with a style more in line with Jones’ defenses of the past.
The team responded with a physical effort that limited Nebraska to 318 total yards in a 38-24 victory in Nashville.
The Vols still have an offensive coordinator opening after veteran Mike DeBord left to return to his home state of Indiana to be closer to his grandchildren.
Former Miami interim head coach and UT special teams and tight ends coach Larry Scott is believed to be the leading candidate to assume the position, with Jones combing the nation for a quarterbacks coach.
Warren would seem like a logical choice to join Shoop’s defensive staff once the dominoes start to fall on that side of the football.
Tennessee shuffled through 11 different starting combinations in the secondary, the cornerback position a revolving door with injuries and suspensions.
The Vols’ defensive season featured an uncharacteristically high amount of attrition across the board, as only defensive end Derek Barnett and defensive tackle Kendal Vickers started every game.
Warren, who turns 40 this week, is originally from Atlanta and attended Forest Park High School. Warren played defensive back at Air Force (1995-98) and won the team’s “Mr. Intensity Award” as a senior, helping lead the team to a 12-1 record.
Warren went on to serve in the Air Force before coaching the Falcons’ secondary for nine years, the last six doubling as the program’s defensive coordinator.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini hired Warren after the 2013 season, and he was retained by Mike Riley after the Cornhuskers’ defense ranked fifth in pass efficiency in 2014.
“Anyone who meets him, could see he’s a very impressive person,” Riley said in an Omaha World-Herald article.
North Carolina hired Warren before the 2015 season and his impact was immediate. The Tar Heels had the most improved pass defense in the nation in 2015 in efficiency and yards per attempt.
Last season, Warren’s pass defense ranked 12th in the country in passing yards allowed per game, and both of his starting cornerbacks earned All-ACC honors.
Jones has said there is no timeline in the hiring process for the Tennessee staff.
The fifth-year head coach has rebuilt the Vols, returning the team to the Top 10 for the first time since 2007, and winning a third-straight bowl game for the first time since Peyton Manning was QB at Tennessee in 1997.
Tennessee’s offense set a single-season record for points and touchdowns this season, as well.