New Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is still trying to finalize his defensive staff.
He’s swung and missed on a couple of big names for his defensive coordinator, most recently Clemson’s Kevin Steele, but one of the guys to keep an eye on now is North Carolina defensive coordinator Everett Withers.
It’s unlikely anything would happen until after signing day, but Withers has an impressive résumé and has been a defensive coordinator at three different schools. He’s headed up North Carolina’s defense the past two seasons and also coached defensive backs, but he was the defensive coordinator at Minnesota in 2007 and the defensive coordinator at Louisville from 1995-97. He's also coached in the NFL.
Dooley has also talked extensively with former Tennessee All-SEC defensive end Chuck Smith about joining the staff as defensive line coach.
Smith was on the New York Jets’ staff this past season and has worked with several players on pass-rushing skills and overall defensive line play since his retirement from the NFL. Even though Jets coach Rex Ryan said earlier this week that Smith was leaving to join the Tennessee staff, Smith said Tuesday that nothing was done and that Dooley would first hire a defensive coordinator.
That said, Smith is extremely interested in the job and thinks he could be an asset to his alma mater. Smith and Dooley played high school football together in Georgia.
The only glitch with Smith is that he hasn't recruited, but the former All-Pro with the Atlanta Falcons is convinced that he can sell Tennessee as well as anyone, having played in the program and remained in close contact with the university. At one point, Smith was a member of the school's athletics board.
Dooley has also talked to Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Barry about the coordinator job. Barry was previously the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. He’s the son of former Tennessee offensive line coach Mike Barry.