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Former Vols strength coach AJ Artis thanks Tennessee

(Photo via Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics)

Former Vols strength coach AJ Artis took to social media on Monday night to thank his “fellow coaches and student athletes at the University of Tennessee.” Artis recently left Knoxville for South Florida to become the director of strength and conditioning for football under Bulls head coach Jeff Scott.

“Thank you to Jeremy Pruitt and AD Phillip Fulmer for allowing me to grow and build a successful strength & conditioning program,” Artis said in a message he posted to Twitter. “Thank you to Josh Heupel and AD Danny White for believing in my work ethic and potential.

“To each of my student-athletes: it’s been my honor to coach you. The relationships we’ve built will last a lifetime. I’m blessed to have been part of the University of Tennessee’s football legacy and look forward to the positive impact I aim to have on the USF football program.”

Kurt Schmidt will serve as Tennessee’s head strength and conditioning coach under new Vols head football coach Josh Heupel. Schmidt is the fourth strength coach for the Vols in five years. Heupel and Schmidt worked together at both Missouri and USF.

Artis just concluded his third season at Tennessee and his first as the Vols’ director of football sports performance. Artis was promoted to the head role officially on June 15, 2020 after former strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald accepted a role with the New York Giants. Artis worked under Fitzgerald during his first two seasons at Tennessee.

Prior to his arrival in Knoxville, Artis spent two seasons at Duke working as assistant director of strength and conditioning. He joined the Blue Devils in the summer of 2016 and primarily trained the football and field hockey programs. He also helped direct high-performance efforts with several other varsity sports. Artis collaborated with head football sports performance coach Noel Durfey during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Artis’ time at Duke was preceded by stints at Appalachian State and Campbell. As a graduate assistant at Appalachian State, he worked with the Mountaineers football program, and also oversaw the strength and conditioning efforts of the Mountaineers’ field hockey and golf programs.

At Campbell, he logged valuable experience with football, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, softball, track & field and wrestling. Artis was a three-year football letterman at Campbell from 2012-14, playing wide receiver as an underclassmen before transitioning to tight end his last two seasons. He later earned a master’s degree in exercise science from Appalachian State in 2017.

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