Tennessee has not officially announced the hiring of Mike Ekeler, but it should happen in the coming days, as a deal is in place for him to coach special teams and assist on the defensive side of the football.
Ekeler, a native of Nebraska, has a long track record as an assistant coach with stops at Georgia, Southern Cal, and Nebraska, to name a few.
Known for his high-energy, high-intensity approach, Ekeler should bring a much-needed energy jolt with him to Knoxville.
Ekeler's history of intensity and energy on the football field dates back to his playing days and has carried over into his coaching career.
Shortly after the news broke on Ekeler's hiring at Tennessee, a couple of his former players took to social media to voice praise for him.
Former Georgia linebacker Jake Ganus tweeted:
Ekeler spent two years at Georgia, working as a linebacker's coach and co-special teams coordinator. He was not retained after Mark Richt was relieved of his duties following the 2015 season. Following his departure, Ekeler shared a quote during an exit interview with Chip Towers of Dawg Nation about what he would change about college football coaching.
"People talk about hiring great recruiters; I think that's an absolute joke. If you're labeled that, 99 percent of the time that means you can't coach a lick. That's a fact. There are very few exceptions. Ed Orgeron is a fantastic recruiter and he's probably the best defensive line coach of them all. The guy is big-time. It's great to recruit 5-stars, but then they come in and play like 2-stars. It's too bad that's how this profession is, but that's part of the deal now," Ekeler said.
"It's not about recruiting, it's about evaluating. That's one of the things I learned from Ed Orgeron. It doesn't matter if he's a 2-star or a 5-star, it's how you evaluate it and what you think you can do with him. That's what I learned from him. Again, you recruit them. But there's only about five players in the country that are totally different than everybody else. Everybody else can fall into a similar category. At that point, it's about developing and teaching. It's about evaluating and developing your talent. And that's a fact."
However, Ekeler has gone all-in on the recruiting trail before, at least according to one of his former linebackers.
Will Compton, a standout linebacker at Nebraska, also shared his sentiments and an interesting story about the new Tennessee assistant.
Tennessee needs something to set them apart from the norm on the field and recruiting trail. Ekeler's energy will be well-received in Knoxville, as Tennessee's new staff looks to revamp the culture and bring a different tone on the field.
Josh Heupel has already implemented various team-building activities to increase the solidarity of his new team.