Just a little over a week ago, Jeremy Pruitt decided to part ways with running backs coach Robert Gillespie not even a week after Pruitt’s coaching staff was officially announced by the university. Now Pruitt has Gillespie’s replacement, and his first coaching staff as Tennessee’s head coach is finalized once again.
Tennessee officially announced the hiring of Chris Weinke as the Vols’ new running backs coach. A report emerged last week that Weinke was expected to be added to Pruitt’s staff to replace Gillespie, and today Tennessee made that official.
According to 247Sports, Weinke’s contract will be for two years and will give him $350,000 annually. Gillespie was set to make $510,000 this season.
“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Pruitt said in a press release from the university. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”
Weinke won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for Florida State in 2000 and led them to a BCS National Title in 1999 as well. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 draft and spent seven seasons on NFL rosters. After his time in the NFL, Weinke went on to become the head coach at the prestigious IMG Academy and spent five seasons there (2010-14). He then left IMG Academy to be the quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams for two seasons, and he was an offensive assistant for Alabama this past season.
Though Weinke has never played nor coached the running back position, he’s getting a shot to coach them at Tennessee. There are coaches on the roster with experience coaching the position, however, so Weinke will have people around him to help if he needs it. Wide receivers coach David Johnson was a running backs coach before Memphis hired him to be their wide receivers coach.
One of the biggest appeals for Weinke is his ties to IMG Academy. According to the 247Sports rankings, IMG Academy had six players ranked inside the top 100 overall players in the country in the 2018 recruiting cycle, and that includes five-star and No. 3 overall player Xavier Thomas.
While at IMG Academy, Weinke coached players like Bo Scarbrough, Deondre Francois, and others. He also trained quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson while serving as a director for IMG Academy.