Report: Vols Expected to Lose Strength Coach to NFL

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    (Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics)

    Tennessee has experienced a lot of change to their coaching staff this offseason, but none could potentially be more impactful than what is reportedly happening now.

    According to Patrick Brown of 247Sports, Tennessee strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald is expected to leave UT to take a job with the New York Giants. The report states that Fitzgerald interviewed with the Giants earlier this week and is now expected to leave for the professional ranks.

    Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has heaped praises upon Fitzgerald and the work he’s done with UT’s strength and conditioning program since he hired him on in January of 2018. Fitzgerald was heading into the third and final year of his deal with Tennessee, and he was making $625,000 a year. That was good enough for the third-highest-paid salary for a strength coach in the entire NCAA.

    Now, Fitzgerald looks headed to the NFL barring some last minute change.

    Fitzgerald was pursued heavily by his alma mater, Maryland, last offseason. But instead of returning up north, Fitzgerald elected to stay with the Vols and help Pruitt and the team another year.

    Last week, Pruitt implied that a team in the SEC — likely Alabama — came after Fitzgerald this offseason as well after the Tide’s strength coach, Scott Cochran, left Alabama to take an on-field role with the Georgia Bulldogs.

    “I think Craig’s a guy that’s in high demand,” Pruitt said after the Vols’ first spring practice on March 10th. “There’s no secret, there’s been several jobs that’s been open across our league in the last couple of weeks, and Craig was the first guy that they called.

    “He decided to stay here. He’s in demand because he’s good at what he does.”

    Should Fitzgerald ultimately leave UT for the NFL, the Vols will be in the market once again for a new strength coach. Fitzgerald was the first strength coach to stay at Tennessee in consecutive seasons since Dave Lawson served in the role for three-straight seasons from 2013-15.

    We will update as more info becomes available.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.