First-year Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel has made two additions to his initial coaching staff on Rocky Top. According to a report from John Brice of FootballScoop.com, Heupel has hired Gardner-Webb passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Kelsey Pope, as well as UCF’s Director of Competition Development Kurt Schmidt.
Pope will serve as an offensive quality control coach according to Brice. Schmidt will serve as Tennessee’s Director of Competition Development alongside current UT strength coach AJ Artis.
Schmidt joined the UCF staff in December of 2017 and worked with the Knights throughout Heupel’s tenure in Orlando. He arrived after one season as Director of Applied Performance for Football at Missouri. He had previously spent four years prior to his stop at Mizzou as a strength, conditioning and nutrition assistant with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. With the 49ers, he was responsible for the training programs for quarterbacks and specialists, along with supervising the reconditioning program for athletes returning from injury.
Before joining the 49ers, Schmidt was an assistant strength coach at Memphis. He also worked on the Arkansas staff from 2008-12 and spent three seasons (2006-08) at Utah State. With the Aggies, he was promoted to interim head strength and conditioning coach.
Schmidt is NSCAA certified and holds a master’s degree from Louisville, where he coached from 2004-06. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he played linebacker for four seasons.
Pope was in his first season as receivers coach at Gardner-Webb University. He joined the Runnin’ Bulldogs after one season at Tennessee Tech where his wide receivers played a key role in the second-best total offense output in program history in 2019.
Prior to joining the FCS coaching ranks, Pope spent a season as an assistant receivers coach at Shorter (Ga.) University on the Division II level. In 2017, Pope coached running backs at Ohio Northern. He has also worked as a quarterback/receivers specialist for the QB Country program.
Pope was a standout receiver himself at Samford. He finished as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader with 250 receptions and set the program’s single-game record with 17 catches against The Citadel. Pope was a three-time All-SoCon selection at receiver before spending time in the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals.