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Tennessee Football Locks Down Kelsey Pope With Contract Extension and Raise

Kelsey Pope
Tennessee wide receivers coach Kelsey Pope. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee has finalized a new contract extension and raise for wide receiver coach Kelsey Pope with spring practice right around the corner.

Pope’s new multi-year contract extension will run through Jan. 31, 2026, Rocky Top Insider learned through documents acquired by a Freedom of Information Act request. On3 Sports’ VolQuest was the first to report the news.

In addition to the extension, Pope’s new deal also includes a raise. Pope’s annual salary is set for $550,000 over the next two seasons.

Pope joined the Tennessee staff as an offensive analyst before the 2021 season and was promoted to wide receivers coach before the 2022 season. Now entering his third year as Tennessee’s receiver coach, Pope has been an important key to the Vols’ success both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

During his first season as wide receivers coach, Pope operated the wide receiver unit through the various injuries to future NFL receiver Cedric Tillman and helped raise the profile of star receiver Jalin Hyatt, who became the first Tennessee player to win the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s most outstanding receiver.

“I love Coach Pope,” Jalin Hyatt said during a postgame press conference in Sept. 2022. “I think he’s the best receivers coach in the country. Anybody, as far as recruits, if you want to come to a program where you’ll get the ball, you spread it out, this is the place for you. Like I said, Coach Pope, he did a lot for me. And my only thing, I was just trying to go to him because all the hard work he has done for me is starting to pay off. And I’m just really grateful for him.”

More from RTI: Tennessee Football Extends Two Defensive Assistants Before Spring Practice

Pope also shares the responsibility for locking down key prospects such as four-star WR/RB Cam Seldon, four-star WR Nathan Leacock, five-star WR Mike Matthews, four-star WR Braylon Staley, and transfer portal pieces such as Chris Brazzell II and Dont’e Thornton.

Pope was one of three assistant coaches to receive an extension this year. Tennessee secondary coach Willie Martinez received a one-year extension through the 2024 season that will see his salary remain at $540,000. Tennessee defensive line coach Rodney Garner received a one-year extension that runs through the 2025 season and will see his salary bump up to $900,000 per year.

Tennessee’s three extensions also come during an off-season in which the coaching staff added two new assistants from outside the program. With Brian Jean-Mary leaving for an assistant position at Michigan and Jerry Mack departing for an assistant role with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee brought in former Washington assistant William Inge to coach the linebackers and former Cincinnati assistant De’Rail Sims to coach the running backs.

Tennessee will enter the fourth year of the Josh Heupel era with new and returning faces on the coaching staff. The Vols will begin spring practice on Monday and Knoxville which will cap off with the 2024 Orange and White game on April 13 in Neyland Stadium. Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider for more Tennessee news, notes, and coverage.

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