Vols hire Ekeler to coach outside linebackers, special teams


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — New Tennessee coach Josh Heupel has finalized his coaching staff by hiring Mike Ekeler as his outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.

Tennessee announced the hiring Thursday.

This will be the third different Southeastern Conference program Ekeler has worked for. He coached linebackers and special teams at Georgia in 2014 and 2015, and he was on LSU’s staff earlier in his career. Ekeler and Heupel both were graduate assistants at Oklahoma in 2004.

“Mike is one of the most engaging and charismatic leaders I know,” Heupel said. “The energy he will bring to our football team, in addition to his track record of guiding successful special teams and defensive units will enhance our program.”

Ekeler spent last season as special teams coordinator at North Texas. He had that same job and also coached inside linebackers in 2019 at Kansas and coached linebackers at North Carolina in 2017 and 2018.

In his tenure at Georgia, he coached four players drafted by the NFL, including Roquan Smith in 2018 and Leonard Floyd in 2016.

He also coached linebackers at Southern Cal in 2013, coached linebackers and was co-defensive coordinator at Indiana in 2011 and 2012 and coached linebackers at Nebraska between 2008 and 2010.

Ekeler was an intern and graduate assistant at Oklahoma in 2003 and 2004 and then at LSU in 2005 through 2007. The native of David City, Nebraska, played special teams and linebacker at Kansas State and graduated in 1995.


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