Roper joins staff

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer completed his coaching staff for the 2006 football season Friday by naming Kurt Roper an assistant coach for running backs.

Roper, 33, has a history with Tennessee football as both he and his father served on previous UT coaching staffs. Roper returns to Knoxville having spent the 1996-98 seasons as a graduate assistant coach for the Vols. His father, Bobby, coached linebackers under Johnny Majors from 1977-79.

"I'm very excited about being in Knoxville because I had a great experience when I was here before," Roper said. "I enjoyed working with Coach Fulmer and it's where I got my start, where my base knowledge of football began. I feel fortunate to be back."

Friday's announcement is the third coaching hire made by Fulmer since the conclusion of the 2005 football season. David Cutcliffe was named assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in late November, and Matt Luke was named to coach tight ends and assist with the offensive line just a few days later.

Greg Adkins was promoted to offensive line coach in conjunction with the Luke hiring and now Trooper Taylor will move from running backs coach to wide receivers.

"I am very pleased to have Kurt on our staff," Fulmer said. "He is a very intelligent, hard-working and knowledgeable coach. He is very familiar with UT and our system and is familiar with Coach Cutcliffe and the way he wants things done.

"His experience here with defense and special teams and at Mississippi with Coach Cutcliffe makes for an easy transition."

Roper comes to the Vols from Kentucky, where he spent one season as quarterbacks coach under Rich Brooks. Prior to that, he served seven years at Ole Miss on Cutcliffe's staff and helped lead the Rebels to five bowl games. His duties in Oxford were with quarterbacks for the entire tenure along with the added responsibility of passing game coordinator from 2002-04.

Among those under his tutelage was Eli Manning, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

"I've been in the league going on 10 years now and it seems like I've been to every stop," Roper said. "I've been in every away hotel and I've been in every stadium, so I do have a lot of knowledge of the league and I think that helps in a lot of ways.

"It helps to know what kind of player it takes to play at this level, to win championships at this level and what kind of coaching you go up against. It's about knowing how much it takes to prepare to win a football game."

Roper's time at Tennessee was with the defense -- primarily defensive backs -- and special teams. He helped the Vols to two bowl games and was headed for the BCS national championship contest when the opportunity called to join Mississippi's staff.

"I've know from an early age that I wanted to be a football coach," he said. "Following in my dad's footsteps always has been a dream. This was one of his favorite stops, coaching here at Tennessee. This is such a highly successful program, to come back is a lot of fun and my family is excited about it."

Born in Ames, Iowa, Roper played college football at Rice and earned three letters as a quarterback and defensive back, graduating in 1995. He spent one year as a graduate assistant in the video department at Mississippi State before coming to Tennessee, where he earned his master's degree in 1998.

Roper is married to the former Britt Albertson of High Point, N.C.


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