Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer announced Friday that New York Jets assistant Jason Michael is returning to Knoxville as the final member of UT’s offensive coaching staff.
Michael, 29, will serve as the Vols tight ends coach. He was assistant tight end coach for the 2007 Jets after spending the previous year as the team’s offensive quality control coach. The former Tennessee graduate assistant spent three years in the NFL.
“We are very pleased to add Jason Michael to our staff as tight ends coach,” Fulmer said. “We went through a good interview process with a number of outstanding candidates.
“Jason brings a familiarity with our program along with great experience from the National Football League. He had great recommendations from the people he worked for. I know his youthful energy, enthusiasm and passion for the game will make him an outstanding part of our staff. I’m looking forward to working with him this year and in the years to come.”
The Louisa, Ky., native completes Fulmer’s offensive staff overhaul brought about when David Cutcliffe announced just over a month ago he had accepted the head coaching position at Duke. Fellow assistants Kurt Roper and Matt Luke followed Cutcliffe to Duke, while Trooper Taylor was named co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
Fulmer in the last nine days has named Dave Clawson offensive coordinator, Stan Drayton running backs coach and Latrell Scott wide receivers coach. Only offensive line coach Greg Adkins remains from the 2007 roster on that side of the ball.
“It’s exciting to get back to Knoxville and be a part of the University of Tennessee,” Michael said. “After three years away from here, it’s a great feeling to return to a program like Tennessee.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Dave and Stan, and that’s another part of what drew me back to Tennessee. The comfort level of meeting with those guys and talking football, the thoughts and philosophies of the game as well as family life — it’s exciting to have a little bit of new as well as return to work with the guys who have a feel for the program.”
Michael served two years at Tennessee, including the 2004 season spent as primary graduate assistant to John Chavis and the Volunteers defense and Steve Caldwell and the special teams staff. He first came to UT in January 2003, working as an assistant for both the strength and conditioning and video staffs.
Michael left Tennessee in early 2005 for his first full-time position, that of offensive quality control coach and video assistant for the Oakland Raiders.
“Coaching tight ends is what I did last season in New York,” Michael said. “It’s exciting to make the transition from the NFL to college. I’m looking forward to the similarities but also to the changes from the pro game to the college game.
“I’m excited about the other parts of the college game, too — the seasonal changes like going through recruiting, signing day, spring football, the camps, and then the true season that college football is. And it all boils down to football.”
His collegiate playing career was capped by guiding Western Kentucky to the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA football championship with a 34-14 victory over McNeese State in Chattanooga. That season, Michael passed for 1,661 yards and rushed for another 642 in pacing the Hilltoppers to a 12-3 record and victories in their final 10 games.
“It’s a good fit for us,” Fulmer said. “He’s a guy who has played on a national championship team as a quarterback. He understands the different styles of offense he’s been around, and also has looked at it from the defensive perspective as a graduate assistant here.”
Michael completed his civil engineering technology degree from Western Kentucky in December 2002. He was selected to the Division I-AA Athletic Directors Academic All-Star Team and earned second-team Verizon Academic All-District IV honors. For his efforts on and off the field, Michael was named the school’s male athlete of the year for 2003.
He is engaged to Knoxville’s Jamie Mossburg.