The University of Tennessee football program officially announced the hiring of Mike Ekeler on Thursday afternoon in a press release. The Nebraska native was named the outside linebackers and special teams coach on Josh Heupel’s initial Tennessee coaching staff.
Ekeler spent the 2020 season as the special teams coordinator at North Texas. This is a reunion for Heupel and Ekeler, as they were graduate assistants together in 2004 with Oklahoma. Ekeler is no stranger to the SEC, as he coached at Georgia from 2014-2016 and was part of LSU’s 2007 staff that won an SEC and National Championship.
“Mike is one of the most engaging and charismatic leaders I know,” Heupel said in the press release. “The energy he will bring to our football team, in addition to his track record of guiding successful special teams and defensive units will enhance our program. We are excited to welcome Coach Ekeler and his family to our Tennessee football family and look forward to watching him make a difference in the lives of our student-athletes.”
In two seasons at UGA, Ekeler coached linebackers under former Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who was the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator at the time. Ekeler coached three NFL draft picks in 2014, Leonard Floyd (first round), Ramik Wilson (fourth round) and Amarlo Herrera (sixth round). Ekeler also coordinated the defensive special teams at Georgia and the punt return team had six touchdown returns in two seasons.
Compton, who is now a Tennessee Titan, joined the RTI Podcast this week to discuss the recruiting tactics of Ekeler and the infamous tattoo story.