It appears Butch Jones has a flair for using Twitter to break Tennessee coaching news. On Monday coach Jones confirmed,via Twitter, that running backs coach Jay Graham was departing Tennessee to take a position at another school (Florida State). Friday night, coach Jones broke the news that Tennessee had hired West Virginia running backs coach Robert Gillespie to the same position at Tennessee,
I want to welcome Robert Gillespie & his family to the Tennessee Football Family! Coach Gillespie will be joining our staff as the RB coach!
— Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones) March 2, 2013
So Who is Robert Gillespie?
Gillespie is a former Florida Gator. He was a running back with the Gators from 1998 to 2001. He also served as a team captain during his time with the Gators. Gillespie began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2005, under coach Steve Spurrier, who was his coach at Florida. After being promoted to running backs coach at South Carolina, and serving in that role for four seasons, Gillespie took the same position at Oklahoma State, and then followed Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to West Virginia, when Holgorsen became head coach there.
CBSsports.com college football analyst Bruce Feldman immediately approved of the hire via Twitter.
Good get for Vols> Gillespie was really well respected inside WVU staff. Tenn, A&M & OU each have hired WVU Off. assts past 2 months.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) March 2, 2013
Gillespie will give the Volunteers another recruiting connection in Florida, West Virginia signed 12 players from the state of Florida in 2012. Gillespie was also named Big East recruiter of the year in 2012. He’s also a solid postion coach, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing during his first season with the team. During his first season as a running backs coach at South Carolina, the backs saw a 61% increase in yardage gained from the previous season.
Gillespie had previous chances to return to the SEC, including a chance to return to his alma mater. If we’ve learned anything this off season, it’s that where you went to school has little bearing on your coaching career. Gillespie turned down a chance to return to Florida, just as Tee Martin turned down a chance to return to Tennessee.
Tennessee fans should be very happy with this hire. Gillespie has roots in the SEC and a proven track record as a position coach and recruiter.
The staff that Butch Jones has put together isn’t full of fancy names that get the fan base excited, but it’s full of hard workers, and guys that want to be here. The guys on staff now are Vols in the truest sense of the word, they believe in Tennessee, and I hope that Tennessee believes in them.