Potential Al Washington defensive staff

According to multiple reports, the Tennessee Vols have made Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington the focus of their defensive coordinator search.

The Vols have put a lucrative contract in front of Washington, a Columbus native who played college football at Boston College.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Washington ends up being Tennessee’s new defensive coordinator. The Vols appear to be determined to give him a deal he can’t refuse (UT has upped their offer since first engaging with Washington).

Washington is a rising star in the business (as evidenced by Ohio State’s attempts to keep him from leaving), but he’s never been a defensive coordinator before. Hiring a first-time defensive coordinator is always a major risk. It can make or break a coach.

If Washington is the hire, his staff will be extremely important.

So who could be on his staff?

Here’s a way it could work out that would make a lot of sense.

Note: It’s not going to be easy to pull assistants from other programs, especially considering Tennessee’s NCAA issues. 

Al Washington — Defensive coordinator/outside linebackers or defensive ends

Washington has experience coaching linebackers and defensive linemen.

Willie Martinez — Cornerbacks

Martinez is a familiar face to Vol fans — he was on Butch Jones’ staff at Tennessee from 2013-2016. The Miami native worked with Josh Heupel at UCF for the last three seasons. He also worked with Washington at Cincinnati in 2017. Martinez has solid recruiting connections in the south and plenty of SEC recruiting experience, so he’d definitely be an asset for this staff. He also has past defensive coordinator experience at Georgia, which could help Washington.

Rodney Garner — Defensive tackles

This makes too much sense not to happen. Garner is available and he has a LOT of SEC experience (he’s spent the last 30 years coaching at Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee). Garner has great recruiting connections and he worked with Martinez at Georgia. There isn’t a better option for Tennessee to hire.

Drew Christ — Safeties 

Christ is currently a quality control coach at Ohio State, where he works with the secondary. Christ has been a defensive coordinator at Central Connecticut State and Albany, so he could also aid in Washington’s transition to a defensive coordinator.

John Jancek — Inside linebackers

This is a tough one to predict. Jancek, who served as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator from 2013-2015, has had some communication with the Vols recently. But it’s unclear whether or not he’d return as a position coach. He’s a veteran defensive assistant, who has worked with Martinez and Garner in the past. If Washington doesn’t go this route, he could look to Ohio State quality control coach Joe Bolden, a former Michigan standout who has also served as an off-field assistant at Florida Atlantic, Washington State, and USC.

Featured image via USA TODAY

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