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Friday Top 10: Reasons to be Hyped About 2016

3. The New Hires


The Vols arguably won the offseason in the SEC East. Maybe even in the SEC. Yes, Alabama once again won the national title, but it lost prized defensive coordinator Kirby Smart after the season ended when he officially became Georgia’s head coach. And the Crimson Tide will be losing a great deal of talent to the NFL Draft. Most of the hires this offseason in the SEC have been less than stellar, and several teams have lost talented players to transfer.

The Vols, however, have made two very solid hires and kept almost all of their roster intact from the 2015 squad.

Tennessee lost tight ends and special teams coach Mark Elder early on in January after he announced he had taken the vacant head coaching position at Eastern Kentucky. But the Vols replaced him with a very respectable hire in Larry Scott, former interim head coach and tight ends coach at Miami. In fact, Scott may even be an upgrade at the position given his track record with tight ends and his ties to the state of Florida in recruiting.

But then the Vols made a huge splash with their second hire of the offseason. Tennessee parted ways with defensive coordinator John Jancek shortly after the season ended and replaced him with Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. In three seasons with Vanderbilt and two with Penn State, Shoop has averaged a top-15 defense in terms of yards allowed per game, including the No. 2 overall defense in 2014 in his first year at Penn State.

Shoop’s track record at face value is impressive enough. But given the fact that he’s put up those types of numbers at Vanderbilt where he didn’t have the type of athletes most other SEC schools had and at a NCAA-sanctioned Penn State, makes it even more impressive.

The Vols have made two of the better hires on paper this offseason. It remains to be seen how those two new coaches will do once the team takes the field, but right now the hires themselves look like reason enough to invest more stock in the Vols’ chances of success in 2016.

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