New Tennessee wide receiver coach Kevin Beard met the media for the first time on Tuesday.
Beard replaces Zach Azzanni, who recently left to take the receivers coach position with the Chicago Bears.He was at Florida International for a little over two months before accepting the receivers coach position at Tennessee a few days ago.
There are some familiarities as new offensive coordinator Larry Scott and Beard were on the coaching staff together at Miami in 2014 and 2015. Both are eager to reconnect heading into the 2017 season.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity,” said Beard. “Working with him back at Miami, he was always a pro. He’s a professional. I’m excited for what he is about to do.”
One of Beard’s strengths is on the recruiting trail. As the receivers coach at Miami, Beard was one of the better recruiters and even targeted current UT receivers such as Tyler Byrd and Latrell Williams.
“In this process and in this profession — recruiting — some people like it, some people don’t. I love it,” Beard said. “The reason why I love it is because you build relationships with young men and families. I don’t recruit players just to come to my school. I recruit players to educate them on the process.”
Even though Beard played at Miami, he is familiar with the Tennessee brand as the Vols were a top three choice for him coming out of high school. He ended up choosing Miami, where he won a national title in 2001.
“Tennessee was one of my top three schools coming out of high school,” said Beard. “To come back 17, 18 years later, it’s even more beautiful, and I’m excited for the opportunity.”
As spring football starts later this month, Beard will have to look for younger players to step up especially since leading receiver Josh Malone declared early for the draft. The offense will also break in a new quarterback, potentially a redshirt freshman in Jarrett Guarantano.
“They’ll gain confidence,” said Beard. “They’ll get familiar with each other throughout this spring.”
Even though Malone is gone, the receiving corps returns several key players including Jauan Jennings, Byrd and Josh Smith. Among the group, none stand out more to Beard than Jennings.
“I’m trying to get him to understand we’re going to do big things,” Beard said of Jennings. “He is a championship football player and he can help bring the whole team to that level just by walking and talking.”
Heading into year five, Jones has made some impressive hires including Kevin Beard. He’s young, passionate, and knows the game. Time will tell how impressive this hire is, but fans should have their hopes up with Beard.