Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has reportedly filled one of his vacancies on his coaching staff.
Former Vol running back and Texas A&M running backs coach/co-offensive coordinator Jay Graham is reportedly being brought in to be the Vols’ next running backs coach according to VolQuest. Graham replaces David Johnson after Johnson left Pruitt’s staff earlier this month to take a similar role at Florida State under new Seminole head coach Mike Norvell.
Graham was an All-SEC running back at Tennessee, and he’s a school record-holder as well. This will actually mark the third time Graham has been on staff in some capacity at Tennessee. Graham got his coaching start after a brief NFL career as a graduate assistant at UT in 2005 and returned in 2012 to serve as Derek Dooley’s running backs coach for a year.
Initially, Graham stayed on staff when Butch Jones was hired as head coach after the 2012 season, but he left Tennessee after National Signing Day and went over to Florida State in 2013. There, he worked with Pruitt as Pruitt served as the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator.
Graham has been the running backs coach at Chattanooga, San Diego, UT-Martin, Miami (Ohio), South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida State, and Texas A&M in his career.
The veteran position coach has helped the Aggies’ rushing attack flourish in his two years at Texas A&M. In his first year in College Station in 2018, he helped mold Trayveon Williams into a record-breaking back. Williams broke A&M’s single-season rushing yard mark (1,760) and single-season all-purpose yardage mark (2,038).
This past season, Texas A&M was dealt a blow when starting running back Jashaun Corbin suffered a season-ending injury early in the year. Backup Isaiah Spiller still had a strong freshman campaign, however, totaling 946 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 174 carries. He also caught 29 passes for 203 yards, giving him over 1,100 all-purpose yards.
At Florida State from 2013-17, Graham coached standout backs such as Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr., and Karlos Williams. Cook was a First Team All-American and finished his FSU career holding the single season mark for rushing yards (1,765) and all-purpose yards (2,253) in 2016. His 4,464 career rushing yards are also a school record.
At South Carolina, Graham coached Marcus Lattimore to consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and was part of the Gamecocks’ 2011 squad that won 11 games for the first time in program history.
In Graham’s one season as Tennessee’s running backs coach in 2012, he helped the Vols’ rushing attack transform radically from 2011 to 2012. Tennessee averaged just 90.1 rushing yards per game and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in 2011. In 2012, the Vols averaged 160.3 rushing yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns, with Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane combining for 1,366 yards on the ground.
At Texas A&M, Graham was making $550,000 annually. David Johnson, the Vols’ previous running backs coach, made $505,000 this past season at Tennessee.
As a player for the Vols, Graham was an All-SEC performer who has his named scattered throughout UT’s record books. His 11 games of 100-plus rushing yards in 1995 are the most in a single season in school history, and his 14 career games of 100-plus rushing yards are the second-most in a Tennessee career. Graham’s 2,609 career rushing yards are the eighth-most in school history, and his 25 career rushing touchdowns are tied for the 10th-most in program history. He also has the fifth-most carries in a UT career with 540 from 1993-96.
Not only has Graham coached on the same staff as Pruitt before, but he also served under Jim Chaney when Chaney was the Vols’ offensive coordinator previously. The two worked together in 2012. Tennessee’s current defensive coordinator, Derrick Ansley, was also on that same 2012 UT staff.