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Tennessee Expected to Hire From Within For Tight Ends Coach

Alec Abeln
Tennessee offensive analyst Alec Abeln. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Josh Heupel is once again expected to promote from within in order to fill his coaching staff.

Tennessee is expected to promote offensive analyst Alec Abeln to the vacant tight ends coaching position according to Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports on Thursday afternoon.

There has been no official announcement from the Tennessee program at the time of this publication.

Abeln would take over the tight end’s room after former tight ends coach and offensive coordinator Alex Golesh departed the program in December to take over as the head coach at South Florida.

Tennessee quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle was promoted to the offensive coordinator position on Jan. 5, 2023.

Halzle and Abeln are both similar in the fact that they were players under Josh Heupel at some point in their careers. Abeln, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, was an offensive lineman for the Missouri Tigers in 2016 and 2017 as Heupel was the offensive coordinator and Glen Elarbee was the offensive line coach.

Alec Abeln
Tennessee offensive line coach Glen Elarbee (left) with offensive analyst Alec Abeln after the Alabama victory in October. Photo via Glen Elarbee on Twitter.
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Abeln then became a graduate assistant for the Tigers during the 2018 season.

Alec Abeln would unite with Heupel and Elarbee once again as he joined the UCF Knights’ coaching staff as a graduate assistant during the 2019 season. Abeln then moved to the SEC as a graduate assistant for Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels during the 2020 season.

Heading into 2021, though, Abeln would reunite with Heupel and Elarbee for the second time in his coaching career as an offensive analyst for the Tennessee Volunteers. Abeln carried that same position through the Orange Bowl-winning 2022 season as well.

Josh Heupel has continually shown the desire to promote from within the program in order to keep continuity and balance. After Tennessee lost wide receivers coach Kodi Burns to the NFL following the 2021 season, Heupel promoted Kelsey Pope to the vacant spot, leading to a Biletnikoff Award trophy for wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. And, as mentioned previously, Heupel promoted from within for the offensive coordinator position this offseason with Joey Halzle.

It’s not hard to figure out how much Heupel believes in consistency and development. Promoting from within allows the development of coaches inside of the program that already have some sort of first-hand knowledge of the offense, the system, and the goal on the field. Promoting from within also allows players to keep familiarity with the coaching staff through the offseason, despite the change.

Heupel has the same tendencies for recruiting, too. During early signing day in December, Heupel spoke about the importance of recruiting the high school circuit more than the transfer portal because of the development advantages it gives the players that are in the building during their time at Tennessee.

Josh Heupel is a strong believer in developing players and coaches at Tennessee. After an 11-2 season in his second year, though, that development looks to be heating up.

As first reported by Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports on Thursday, Tennessee is expected to promote offensive analyst Alec Abeln to the vacant tight ends coaching position.

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