KNOXVILLE – A week after the hiring of coach Butch Jones, the rest of Tennessee’s football staff is now reportedly in place.
The vacant wide receivers coach position will be filled by Wisconsin wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, according to a report from Madison.com, the website of the Wisconsin State Journal.
The 13-year coaching veteran has made prior stops as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and Bowling Green. Azzanni served as the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach under Jones at Central Michigan from 2007-09.
Azzanni had expressed interest in staying on at Wisconsin after its former coach, Bret Bielema, moved on to be the head coach at Arkansas. But without a new head coach in place for the Badgers, Azzanni has reportedly decided to rejoin Jones in Knoxville.
The addition of Azzanni, who served as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator for Urban Meyer at Florida in 2010, gives the new staff a fifth assistant with significant experience in the SEC.
He joins defensive coordinator John Jancek (Georgia), safeties coach Willie Martinez (Georgia, Auburn), cornerbacks coach Tommy Thigpen (Auburn) and running backs coach Jay Graham (Tennessee, South Carolina) as the SEC veterans on staff.
Azzanni will be charged with the task of potentially rebuilding the wide receiver position for the Vols. Though no official announcements have been made yet, juniors Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson are expected to turn pro early. Rising junior Vincent Dallas (9 catches, 149 yards in 2012) could be the most productive returning receiver.
“He is a terrific coach who stresses fundamentals and is also a great recruiter,” Bielema said of Azzani upon hiring him in 2011. “His coaching philosophy, personality and character fit perfectly with what we do here and how we do it.”
Known for his recruiting connections in the greater Miami areas, Azzani has also been part of nine different teams that have either been to a bowl or won their conference championship. He helped guide the Gators to a 51-24 win over Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
For information on the rest of Jones’ staff, click here.