Tennessee saw a lot of coaching turnover once again this offseason, but one of the coaches from Jeremy Pruitt’s original staff he hired in 2018 decided to stay on staff. Now, he has a new contract and a nice raise to go along with his new deal.
Blake Toppmeyer of the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Wednesday that Tennessee quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke has agreed to a new two-year deal with the Vols. Weinke is signed on with UT through January 2022 and will be paid $450,000 annually — a raise worth $100,000 from his initial deal.
Weinke was tied with Brian Niedermeyer as the lowest-paid coach on Tennessee’s staff in 2019, earning $350,000. Both Niedermeyer and Weinke were the only on-field assistants making less than $500,000 on Tennessee’s staff last season.
The new contract has similar language to his previous contract and has a similar bonus structure to the rest of UT’s assistant coaches. He will receive the full remaining payment of his contract if Tennessee fires him without cause before the contract ends, and he would owe UT 33 percent of his remaining base salary if he leaves the Vols before February 1, 2021.
When Weinke was first hired by Pruitt, he coached Tennessee’s running backs. After the 2018 season, Pruitt shuffled some of his staff when he brought in Jim Chaney as offensive coordinator and Tee Martin as wide receivers coach, moving David Johnson to running backs and Weinke to coach quarterbacks — the same position he played at a Heisman-winning level at Florida State in the 1990s.
Now, Weinke, Niedermeyer, and offensive line coach Will Friend are the only remaining coaches from Pruitt’s initial staff in 2018. Niedermeyer coached tight ends the first two seasons but moved to the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Friend is the only one still coaching the same position he did in 2018.
Tennessee saw defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer, outside linebackers coach Chris Rumph, and running backs coach David Johnson all leave the program to take different jobs this offseason. In return, Pruitt moved Niedermeyer to coach inside linebackers, promoted Joe Osovet from an off-field role to coach tight ends, hired South Carolina running backs coach and former Vol running back Jay Graham to coach running backs, hired Colorado’s Jimmy Brumbaugh as defensive line coach, and hired Akron outside linebacker coach and former Vol off-field analyst Shelton Felton as outside linebackers coach.
Weinke played quarterback for Florida State and won the Heisman Trophy in 2000. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, and he played in the NFL for seven seasons. He started his coaching career by helping launch the football program at IMG Academy in 2010. He was IMG’s Director of Football for two years before being named the head coach in 2013 and 2014. Weinke was the quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams in 2015 and 2016 before coming back to the college game, working as an offensive analyst for Alabama in 2017. He worked with Pruitt while with the Tide that season, and Pruitt brought him to Tennessee when he was hired as head coach.
Along with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, Weinked helped coach three different starting quarterbacks for the Vols in 2019. Redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano, redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout, and true freshman Brian Maurer all started and played at QB for UT this past season. Their combined efforts averaged 221.4 passing yards per game, and they combined to throw 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those numbers were up from the Vols’ 2018 totals (196.4 yards a game, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions).