Tennessee Team News

RB coach Robert Gillespie out at Tennessee; is Chris Weinke about to be hired?

Robert Gillespie
Caitie McMekin/Knoxville News Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

Running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who was set to be the lone holdover from Butch Jones’ staff at Tennessee, instead no longer is on Jeremy Pruitt’s staff.

Gillespie spent five seasons as Tennessee’s running backs coach. Gillespie also was named the Vols’ recruiting coordinator before the 2015 season.

Per multiple sources, former Florida State Heisman winner and longtime NFL quarterback Chris Weinke has emerged as Pruitt’s top target to round out the Vols’ on-field staff for 2018. Weinke spent the past season as an offensive analyst for national champion Alabama. He also interviewed a year ago for the UT offensive coordinator post.

Weinke, 45, who won the Heisman at FSU in 2000, was quarterback coach of the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams in 2015-16, and previously spent five years (2010-14) as the head coach at powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

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Gillespie, 38, a running back at Florida under Steve Spurrier during his college days, was heralded for his work with the Vols’ running backs in past years. But he also was part of a staff that grossly underutilized Alvin Kamara and saw Jalen Hurd transfer out of the UT program midway through 2016.

Gillespie did not have his contract extended after Pruitt came aboard. Gillespie’s UT contract ran through February 2019, and he made a bit more than $500,000 on the two-year deal he signed following the 2016 season.

Per sources, Gillespie did not mesh with Pruitt and the Vols’ new staff. In part of his culture change identified as necessary to push Tennessee forward, Pruitt found what sources said were “stale” mindsets.

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(You can follow John Brice on Twitter @JohnDBrice1)

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