Update: Tennessee announced that Bob Shoop has agreed in principle to be its new defensive coordinator on Saturday evening after the original publication of this article
There are plenty of considerations when making a change at coordinator – scheme, recruiting, staff chemistry and a variety of other things a head coach must consider when making that move.
For Tennessee, which is still waiting on NFL decisions from a pair of defenders, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cam Sutton, the search for a new defensive coordinator could play into the decision of at least one of those two standouts as well, according to a report from Jared Stillman of 102.5 The Game in Nashville.
Source: #Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin likely to return for senior season if current Penn State DC Bob Shoop is hired at UT.
— Jared Stillman (@JaredStillman) January 9, 2016
There are a couple possible explanations for why that might be for Reeves-Maybin, who led the Vols with 99 tackles in 2015 and added 13 TFLs and five sacks on the year. Shoop was very involved in Reeves-Maybin’s recruitment when he was the defensive coordinator under James Franklin at Vanderbilt from 2011-13. Reeves-Maybin, a native of Clarksville, Tenn., had an offer from the Commodores and showed legitimate interest in them before ultimately committing to and signing with the Vols – becoming part of Butch Jones’ first recruiting class in Knoxville in 2013.
Or perhaps Reeves-Maybin is just familiar with impressive resume that Shoop has.
He was named 247Sports’ Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2014 when Penn State had one of the best defenses in the nation, and again led a Nittany Lion defense that was top 15 nationally in total defense in 2015. Shoop is also known for his 4-3, attacking defense that Reeves-Maybin might feel would be a good fit for him to come back to his senior season and bump up his draft stock.
Reeves-Maybin reportedly was graded as “fifth-round or lower” after submitting his name to the NFL Draft Advisory Board in December.
The Vols are currently scheduled to return eight of 11 defensive starters from the Outback Bowl, though Sutton and/or Reeves-Maybin still have until Jan. 18 to forego their final year of eligibility and declare for the draft.
Shoop was in Knoxville over the weekend to visit with Butch Jones and the staff about the vacant defensive coordinator role that was left open after UT and John Jancek “mutually” parted ways with the Vols this week. As of Saturday afternoon, there’s been no official word from Tennessee, but he, from all accounts, seems to be the front-runner for the job. Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and Clemson co-defensive coordinator Marion Hobby are among some of the other potential candidates for the job if Shoop does not land it.