January 4, 2013
Elder impresses, shines light on UT's special teams
GATLINBURG --- This time it was Mark Elder, not head coach Butch Jones, who reached out to Tennessee high school football coaches on behalf of Jones' new Volunteers coaching staff.
The enthusiasm, embrace and --- most importantly for the coaches who attended Elder's presentation at the Big East Coaches Clinic spearheaded by Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett's Graham Clark and Sevier County's Steve Brewer --- teaching from Elder was just as sincere Thursday night at the Park Vista Hotel.
"He has special teams broken down to a science, and he seemed excited to share with high school coaches." - Tony Lambert, Oneida High School head coach
Elder, who has been with Jones all six years of his head coaching career and was quickly tabbed to coach the Vols' tight ends and special teams, spent more than an hour delivering an in-depth look into Jones and thus Tennessee's new philosophies on teams.
"I loved it, and Coach Elder seemed very passionate about embracing the process at UT," said Oneida head coach Tony Lambert, a program-building coach in East Tennessee regarded as among the state's best. "He has special teams broken down to a science, and he seemed excited to share with high school coaches. I told him welcome to Tennessee, and I would look forward to visiting with him in the future."
In outlining why special teams units had consistently flourished in Jones' programs at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati, where they often ranked at or near the top in conference statistics and had several units nationally regarded, Elder shared the early emphasis that Tennessee will place this spring on special teams. Elder also pointed out the Vols will have five coaches working on virtually every aspect of every special teams unit, a staple of Jones' systems.
"It is obvious Coach Elder has a passion for coaching," said Knox Central assistant coach Dustin Mynatt. "He did a great job relating his special teams philosophies and drills to fit the time restraints of high school football. Coach Elder seems to be very knowledgeable, and I can see the special teams at UT making some serious strides. He has made me excited to see what they will put on the field this fall."
Elder relayed a number of techniques the Vols will deploy and also shared knowledge he gleaned from studying the Chicago Bears' special teams units and visiting with those coaches in recent years. Elder also highlighted how Tennessee will begin its special teams preparations as soon as NCAA rules governing offseason contact, sans footballs and uniforms, allow coaches to begin meeting with players.
Elder's presentation followed up an evening for the high school coaches that also included an segment on screen passes and philosophies from Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown. In addition to high school coaches, there were some college assistants in attendance including some from Clemson.
The clinic precedes the coaching profession's largest gathering, the upcoming AFCA convention that will be hosted beginning Sunday at Nashville's Opryland Hotel. Tennessee will have some representatives at that event as well.
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