Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt knew he needed to bulk things up on the offensive line if the Vols were going to begin making up any ground in the SEC. After signing one five-star offensive tackle in the early signing period in December, Tennessee added one more five-star player for the offensive line on Wednesday.
Darnell Wright, a five-star offensive tackle in the 247 Sports composite ranking out of West Virginia, followed up a recent official visit to Tennessee by declaring his commitment to the Vols on National Signing Day. Wright, who checks in at 6′-6″ and 320 pounds, chose the Volunteers over the in-state West Virginia Mountaineers as his recruiting process crosse the finish line on Wednesday.
Wright will saddle up next to Wanya Morris, another five-star tackle who enrolled at Tennessee in January after committing to the program in the early signing period. Tennessee’s efforts to improve the offensive line didn’t stop there, of course. The Class of 2019 for Tennessee also includes four-star guard Jackson Lampley from Nashville and extra bodies with Chris Akporoghene from IMG Academy in Florida, and Melvin McBride of Memphis.
The Vols needed to improve their offensive line in a big way. Tennessee was ranked 14th in the 14-team SEC last season in rushing offense, averaging just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt. Although the Vols fared better in limiting sacks compared to the rest of the conference, Tennessee still allowed 23 sacks last season, an average fo 1.92 sacks allowed per game. While that was sixth-best in the SEC, SEC East opponents Missouri, Florida, Georgia and Vanderbilt all had better numbers protecting their quarterbacks.
For the first time this cycle, it’s Arkansas feeling the brunt of an early-entry decision.
By way of his personal Twitter account, Kamren Curl announced that he “will be forgoing my senior year and will be declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.” The safety ended the social-media missive, “I will truly miss playing for the state, these fans, and my brothers from my freshman year to now who will be family forever.”
Curl, a three-star 2017 signee, began his time in Fayetteville as a cornerback before moving to safety prior to his sophomore campaign. He started 22 games the past two seasons.
Curl’s 76 tackles this past season were good for fourth on the team. He was also credited with four tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions.
For the second time this spinning of the coaching carousel, a Left Coast FBS program has lost an assistant to its little brother level of college football.
First, it was Cal losing offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin to the head job FCS Cal Poly. This time around it’s San Diego State, with FCS Lamar officially introducing Blane Morgan as its new head football coach.
Morgan spent the past five seasons as the quarterbacks coach at SDSU. Before that, he was at alma mater Air Force for a dozen years as, at various times, wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.
ROCKY LONG, HEAD COACH, SAN DIEGO STATE
“Blane has been a key part of our 48-18 record over the past five years. He understands what it takes to win and is a proven winner. He’s gotten the most out of his players, and their consistent play is a big reason for our two conference championships since he’s been here. He should make an outstanding head coach.”
FISHER DEBERRY, FORMER HEAD COACH, AIR FORCE
“Blane Morgan is going to be a great college head coach! He was a tremendous quarterback as a player and was one of the most competitive players and coaches that we had in the program at the Air Force Academy. Being the son of a great and very successful high school coach, and also being on the staff of one of the nation’s premier defensive coaches in the college game makes him well qualified and ready for this responsible job. He will be a great role model and mentor to the players! Players and supporters will love his beautiful family and they will be inspired by his leadership. Lamar University has found a nugget.”
TROY CALHOUN, HEAD COACH, AIR FORCE
“In Blane Morgan and his family, Lamar is getting a first-class leader that bleeds for their home state of Texas. He’s a superb coach and will be a tremendous representative of the university.“
It goes without saying that Jeff Traylor has hit the ground running in San Antonio.
Monday, Traylor was officially introduced as the new head football coach at UTSA. Thursday, Traylor announced that he has brought in five new assistants and retained another as part of his first coaching staff with the Roadrunners.
Those assistant coaches are:
- Daniel Da Prato (special teams coordinator)
- Nick Graham (cornerbacks)
- Julian Griffin (running backs)
- Jess Loepp (safeties/recruiting coordinator)
- Matt Mattox (run-game coordinator/offensive line)
- Rod Wright (defensive line)
Wright is the only holdover from Frank Wilson‘s last staff at the school.
Da Prato (special teams), Griffin (offensive quality control assistant) and Loepp (offensive analyst) all come to UTSA from Arkansas. Traylor spent the past two seasons as the associate head coach and running backs coach with the Razorbacks.
Graham (defensive assistant) and Mattox (offensive coordinator) were both at McNeese State for the 2019 season.
With yesterday’s developments, Traylor has just four more openings on his on-field staff to fill. Unless he gets raided by another football program, of course.
For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.
First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.
Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.
“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”
Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.
In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).