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December 10, 2012

Meet the Vol coaching staff

Butch Jones' coaching staff
John Jancek

Position: Defensive coordinator/linebackers

Coaching stops: Co-defensive coordinator Cincinnati (2010-2012), Co-defensive coordinator Georgia (2009), linebackers coach Georgia (2005-2008), defensive line Central Michigan (2003-2004)

Background: Jancek has five years of SEC experience and has led Cincinnati's defense the last three years. This season Jancek's Bearcats' unit ranked 41st nationally in total defense and 12th in scoring defense at 17.17 points per game. The Bearcats were one of the most improved defenses in the nation in 2011, leading the NCAA FBS in tackles for a loss (8.62), ranking second in sacks (3.46), sixth in rushing defense (96.23) and 20th in scoring defense (20.31).

Willie Martinez

Position: safeties

Coaching stops: Secondary Auburn (2012), secondary Oklahoma (2010-2011), defensive coordinator Georgia (2005-2009), secondary Georgia (2001-2004), asst. head coach/secondary Central Michigan (1998-2000), secondary Eastern Michigan (1997), defensive coordinator Central Florida (1995-1996), secondary Central Michigan (1994), secondary Grand Valley State (1992-1993)

Background: Martinez is Jones' most veteran coach when it comes to SEC experience. The long time defensive backfield coach has 10 years experience working in the Southeastern Conference. In his two seasons at Oklahoma, Martinez helped the program to a 22-5 record and a Big 12 championship in 2010. While at Georgia, Martinez was part of a staff that led the Bulldogs to 90 victories, two Southeastern Conference championships, three SEC Eastern Division titles, seven bowl victories and six Top 10 finishes in the final national polls, including No. 2 in 2007 and No. 3 in 2002.

Steve Stripling

Position: Asst. head coach/defensive line

Coaching stops: Asst. head coach/defensive line coach (2010-2012), asst. head coach/defensive end (2009), defensive line Michigan (2005-2007), defensive line Michigan State (2003-2004), defensive line Louisville (2001-2002), linebacker/recruiting coordinator Minnesota (1997-2000), offensive line/defensive line/linebacker/defensive coordinator Indiana (1984-1996), offensive line Northern Illinois (1980-1983)

Background: Stripling has 31 years of coaching experience and has been to 23 bowl games. In 2012, the Bearcats ranked 41st in total defense and 12th in scoring defense at 17.17 points per game. In 2011, the Bearcats defense was 9th nationally in turnover margin as the defense forced 33 take aways. In 2006 when Stripling was at Michigan, the Wolverines led the nation in rushing giving up just over 43 yards a game.

Tommy Thigpen

Position: cornerbacks

Coaching stops: safeties/linebackers Auburn (2009-2012), linebackers North Carolina (2005-2008), cornerbacks/linebackers Illinois (2003-2004), cornerbacks/special teams coordinator Bowlling Green (2001-2002), linebackers Tennessee State (2000)

Background: Thigpen has been named a Rivals.com Top-25 recruiter on two occasions (2007 and 2009). Thigpen was on Urban Meyer's staff at Bowling Green and that's the tie to Jones. Jones and Meyer are good friends. Thigpen won a national title at Auburn in 2010-2011. Thigpen is originally from Virginia and played his college football for Mack Brown at North Carolina.

Mike Bajakian

Position: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

Coaching stops: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Cincinnati (2010-2012), offensive coordinator Central Michigan (2007-2009), offensive quality control Chicago Bears (2004-2007), quarterbacks Central Michigan (2002-2003)

Background: Jones and Bajakian worked together at Central Michigan when Jones was the offensive coordinator and Bajakian was the quarterbacks coach. The two remained friends and when Jones became the head coach in 2009, he called Bajakian back to Central Michigan from the NFL. Since the duo became head coach and offensive coordinator their offenses have been fast paced and put up lots of points. In 2010, the Bearcats led the Big East in scoring offense (27.1 ppg), total offense (417.3 ypg), passing offense (260.7 ypg), first downs (21.9 pg), third-down conversions (45.6 pct.), and touchdown passes (27). In 2011, Cincinnati averaged 385 yards per game, ranking No. 2 in the Big East in rushing offense (178.5 ypg) and scored an average of 33.3 points per game on the way to a Big East title. This season, the Bearcats averaged 31 points per game, 199.8 yards rushing a game, and 231 yards passing a game.

Mark Elder

Position: tight ends/special teams coordinator

Coaching stops: tight ends/running backs/safeties/special teams coordinator Cincinnati (2010-2012), linebackers Central Michigan (2007-2009), graduate assistant Michigan (2005-2006), defensive coordinator Wayne State (2004), defensive coordinator Iona (2003), linebackers Lehigh (2002)

Background: Elder has experience on both sides of the ball and is Jones' most versatile coach having coached three positions in three years with the Bearcats. Elder is a native of Ohio. In his one season as a tight ends coach Elder coached Ben Guidugli helping the senior total 24 catches and a pair of touchdowns earning him second team all-Big East honors.

Don Mahoney

Position: offensive line

Coaching stops: offensive line Cincinnati (2010-2012), offensive line Central Michigan (2007-2009), offensive line Tulane (1999-2006), tight ends/offensive line (1993-1998) Central Michigan

Background: A West Virginia native who was actually a college roommate to former Vol assistant coach Greg Adkins. Mahoney has been with Jones the last 6 seasons helping pave the way for a productive run game. In 2012, the Bearcats The Central Michigan offense was third in the Mid-American Conference in 2009, averaging just under 170 rushing yards per game (167.6). The Chippewas were second in the league in total offense (423.1), and led the MAC in scoring offense (33.9). Central Michigan allowed an average of 1.21 sacks per game, a mark that ranked second in the MAC in 21st in the NCAA FBS. In his first year in Cincinnati, Mahoney's unit paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver for only the third time in school history. It was Cincinnati's first 1,000-yard rusher in almost a decade. This season, the Bearcats averaged 31 points per game, 199.8 yards rushing a game, and 231 yards passing a game.

Jay Graham

Position: running backs

Coaching experience: running backs Tennessee (2012-present), running backs/tight ends South Carolina (2009-2011), offensive assistant coach Miami, Ohio (2008), Running backs/recruiting coordinator UT-Martin (2007), running backs UT-Chattanooga (2006).

Background: One of the best Vol running backs in school history rushing for 2,609 yards in his career. Came back to his alma mater in 2012 after three years at South Carolina helping Marcus Lattimore explode on the scene with 2,015 yards in his first two years with the Gamecocks. In his first season in Knoxville, Graham helped a running game that had just over 1,000 yards in 2011 rush for 1,924 yards in 2012. Leading rusher Rajion Neal averaged 4.5 yards a carry and was on pace for a 1,000 yard season before an ankle injury saddled him the second half of the year.

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