For the second time in three seasons, Josh Heupel is losing an offensive assistant coach to the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are hiring Tennessee running backs coach Jerry Mack to fill the same position, 247sports Matt Zenitz reported on Monday.
Mack leaves Tennessee after spending three years on Josh Heupel’s staff. The 43-year old is one of the sport’s up-and-coming coaching stars and was extremely well thought of during his Volunteer tenure.
Perhaps Mack’s biggest achievement in Knoxville was his development of Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright. The Memphis native’s first season at Tennessee was Wright’s freshman season and the talented speedster was an extremely raw running back.
Under Mack’s tutelage, Wright’s game grew leaps and bounds. He turned into a physical between the tackles runner to go along with his blazing speed. Wright was one of the SEC’s best running backs last season and became Tennessee’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Jalen Hurd in 2015.
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Tennessee loses Wright and senior running back Jabari Small this offseason but returns impressive sophomore Dylan Sampson and freshman running back Cam Seldon.
Mack marks the Vols’ first coaching turnover of the offseason and just the third coaching departure in Heupel’s tenure. Heupel has largely retained his staff during his three years at Tennessee. Receiver’s coach Kodi Burns left for the New Orleans’ Saints receiver’s coach job following the 2021 season and offensive coordinator/tight end’s coach Alex Golesh left for the South Florida head coaching job last offseason.
Heupel has promoted from within each of the last two times he had to make a coaching hire. We’ll see if that trend continues as Tennessee searches for its newest running backs coach.
The Vols’ head coach has yet to fire an assistant coach during his time in Knoxville.
In Jacksonville, Mack will coach one of the NFL’s best young running backs in former Clemson star Travis Etienne. The Jaguars are coming off a disappointing 2023-24 season that saw them miss the playoffs but still have a bright future under head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence.