UT Hires New Coach

Kurt Roper, a former Tennessee graduate assistant whose father was a defensive coordinator for the Vols in the 1970s, is expected to be hired Thursday by UT.

      Roper would complete coach Phillip Fulmer's staff before the Vols entertain about 16 prospects this weekend.

      Roper, a former player at Rice, is quarterbacks coach at Kentucky. He coached several years at Ole Miss with David Cutcliffe, recently hired as Tennessee's offensive coordinator.

      It is not certain whether Roper will coach running backs or receivers. If he coaches running backs, Trooper Taylor would move from running backs to receivers.

      Roper replaces former receivers coach Pat Washington on the staff. Matt Luke, a former Ole Miss player who coached on the Rebels staff under Cutcliffe, was hired to replace Jimmy Ray Stephens on the staff. Stephens was replaced as UT's offensive line coach by Greg Adkins.

      Tennessee has long had three minority assistants, ranking among the most in the SEC. The firing of Washington and hiring of Roper leaves UT with two African-Americans on the staff.

      However, Tennessee offered the job to two black coaches – Kippy Brown, recently fired by the Houston Texans, and Ron Middleton of Tampa Bay. Both declined.

      UT also interviewed at least three other minorities – Joe Whitt Jr. of Louisville, Mike Grant of Iowa State and Curtis Modkins of Georgia Tech.     

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