Dynamic duo

The InsideTennessee staff was on hand at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center to speak with Tennessee football assistant coaches on Wednesday. Sign in or subscribe now to read this story and watch this video.

The Tennessee secondary, surprisingly, ranked No. 12 among NCAA Div. I teams in 2011 and No. 6 among teams in the Southeastern Conference. However, the Volunteers gained more mediocre marks in interceptions (86, 10 SEC) and passing efficiency defense (48, 10 SEC).

Several months removed from the season, enter former Alabama defensive backs graduate assistant Derrick Ansley as the new cornerbacks coach at Tennessee. Ansley will now tag team the coaching duties of the Tennessee secondary with now coach Terry Joseph.

"Coach (Derek) Dooley is going to have us break it up as far as safeties and corners," Ansley told InsideTennessee on Wednesday. "I am going to take the corners and coach Joseph is going to have the safeties and will coach the star, which is the nickel back."

With two coaches now in the back end, Ansley and Joseph will be working together to keep their respective groups as one collective unit.

"You just have to communicate," Ansley said. "Anytime you have two defensive line coaches, two linebacker coaches or two receiver coaches you have to be on the same page as far as what we are going to do. What I do at the corner position directly affects him and what he does with the safeties affects what we do up front."

Ansley, who left Tuscaloosa for a job at Central Florida in December, struggled with the decision to come to Tennessee. After some thought, he realized it was a huge opportunity.

"It was a blessing in disguise," he said. "It was a tough decision to leave Central Florida because I had just gotten there. As a young coach, you don't want to move too fast in this profession. It was tough as far as that is concerned, but the opportunity to come work with coach Dooley and coach Sal, it was really a no-brainer."

Terry Joseph will now handle safeties like Brian Randolph and signee LaDarrell McNeil.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

A native of Alabama, Ansley grew up seeing the Orange and White in their hay day, which made the job that much more appealing.

"This is a great place and with great tradition," Ansley said. "I grew up watching UT, the Deon Grant's, the Andre Lott's, Chad Scott and all those guys. I was a big fan. I was a fan of coach (Larry) Slade, who used to coach corners here. I knew the potential of this place and I know where we are trying to get."

Terry Joseph is one guy that couldn't be more excited to have "D.A." on board, which will lead to more detailed coaching for all parties involved.

"Obviously, having a guy in here like D.A. is going to help," Joseph said. "Corners and safeties become totally different positions. Most schools in America have a corner coach and a safeties coach.

"The players will get more individual attention and it will be more specific on their position. In this defense, the majority of the adjustments will be made by the guys in the back end."

One thing that Ansley brings that even veterans among the Tennessee coaching staff can't is experience. That's right, experience, in defensive coordinator Sal Suneri's 3-4 base defense.

"I think that was really the main reason I came," Ansley said. "The opportunity to come work with coach Sal, who I worked with for two years at Alabama, was really an easy learning curve. We talk the same language defensively and we really have the same goals as to what we want to do."

Ansley will be key in bringing along even veterans, like Joseph, in the new scheme on Rocky Top.

"Having D.A. in here who has worked with Sal the last two years at Alabama, he knows the terminology, he knows the adjustments of the defense, it is going to help the learning curve for all of the back end in general," Joseph said.

On the other hand, Joseph will have to help Ansley adjust to recruiting in the Southeastern Conference, something that the new cornerbacks coach has never done before.

"The big thing for him is identifying and evaluating the players," Joseph said of Ansley and recruiting. "Then, getting on the way that we recruit the guys. Obviously, everyone knows that we are more of a team recruiting staff.

"Now he just has to get into his area, develop the relationships and eventually get them to campus. The more we get them to campus the better off we are. Once he understands the way we recruit Tennessee he will be fine."

While Ansley realizes the challenges, he also knows that he has one heck of a product to take on the road.

"I think recruiting is something that you work at," Ansley said. "At a place like Tennessee recruiting kind of sells itself. Recruiting in the SEC is a lot harder at some places than it is at others and I don't see that being a problem at Tennessee."

Watch more from the interview with new cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley below:


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