Ringing endorsement

You remember Dal Shealy? He's a former Tennessee assistant coach who also coached at Carson Newman, Auburn, Iowa State and Baylor and headed up the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 16 years.

He also happened to be the coach who restarted the Richmond program in 1979, after it was dropped.

Shealy, 70, has been around. He knows good offense. He knows good coaches. And he gives a ringing endorsement of Dave Clawson, the former Richmond head coach who was hired by Tennessee as offensive coordinator by Phillip Fulmer.

``I think this is one of the best hires Phil has made in a while, I really do,'' said Shealy, a 1960 graduate of Carson-Newman.

``I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dave Clawson. I think he's an outstanding man, No. 1. He's a very focused, detail-oriented coach that is disciplined in what he does. He has great insights.

``The thing I like about Dave Clawson as a coach … he builds his attack around the personnel he has. That's one thing that's wrong with some coaches in America, they've got what they want to do but they don't have the players to do it. Dave Clawson knows the offense he's going to run well enough to say, `Here's where the playmakers are, here's where the talent is and we're going to get them the football so they can make plays.'

``He's not going to put up with turnovers. If you make turnovers, you're not going to play. If he sees you're giving a lackluster effort, it's going to be one of those deals where he'll say, `Shape it up or you'll sit on the bench.' He's a no-nonsense guy. He's a player's coach. He's a detail coach. I tell you what, he expects you to give it when you go out to practice and in a game.

``I think he'll be a great asset here.''

In 14 years of coaching quarterbacks, Clawson had the all-conference quarterback nine times. Does that speak to his ability to get production out of the position?

``It really does,'' said Shealy, who recently moved to Jefferson County.

Shealy said Clawson does a great job of explaining concepts and sound football principles to his quarterbacks so they understand where to throw and not to throw the ball.

``When you can keep it simple enough for guys to understand a multiple concept, you change your formations, you change your motion, you change your alignment, next thing you know, the defense has a big headache,'' Shealy said. ``You know what you're doing and you're players know what they're doing. That's one of great assets you have with Dave Clawson.''

Clawson is obviously confident about his offensive abilities. During the interview process with Fulmer, the two had some spirited discussions.

``When we were talking football, he was just hard-headed enough to argue with me about a number of things, which I really liked, because I'm looking forward to moving on and looking at some other concepts that are out there,'' Fulmer said.

Shealy sees some of those same attributes in Clawson.

``Dave Clawson is one of those guys I was excited to see at Richmond,'' Shealy said. ``Watching him work, I was more excited. When I heard he was going to Tennessee, I said, `Man, that is one of the best hires I've seen.'''

In 1979, Shealy was hired away from Iowa State to re-start the Richmond program. He said alumni were going to quit donating it football wasn't revived.

``It was an interesting time,'' Shealy said.

Shealy said it wasn't his first experience with re-starting a football program. He said he did so at Carson-Newman and Marshall.

``It was kind of like same song, third verse,'' Shealy said.

Strange, if Shealy hadn't restarted the Richmond program, you wonder if Clawson would have found his way to Tennessee.


Clawson said he doesn't anticipate a huge adjustment going from calling plays at the 1-AA level to the SEC, which arguably plays the best defense of any conference in the country.

``Obviously, the players are bigger, stronger and faster, and the stadium is larger,'' Clawson said. ``I view this as a very natural step in my career. Some people go from position coach to coordinator, some go from coordinator to head coach. Some have made the jump from 1-AA to 1-A like Jim Tressel at Ohio State. I view this as a natural progression.''

Fulmer jumped to the podium to comment.

``I'll give our Vol fans two words: Milwaukee-Wisconsin,'' Fulmer said, referring to UT's hire of men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl.


Clawson said his first recruit will be UT tailback Arian Foster, who rushed for almost 1,200 yards and received a second-round grade from an NFL advisory board.

Foster has until Jan. 15 to make a decision.

``We'd love for him to come him back,'' Clawson said. ``We need to sit down early and sell him on how much he can help the team next year and how the offense will be a good fit for him to further his career as well.''

Fulmer said Foster is still deliberating because of his second-round projection.

``He got a higher grade than he expected and a higher grade than we expected,'' Fulmer said.


Tennessee's new receivers coach, Latrell Scott, had nothing but praise for UT's new offensive coordinator.

``Coach Clawson is the best football coach I've ever worked with and it's really easy for me to say,'' said Scott, 32. ``Coach Clawson gave me a chance to come to the University of Richmond and work with him and he taught me this style of offense, which I think is a very effective offense and we'll be able to get the ball in playmakers' hands.

``I fully trust Dave and I'm very, very excited about the fact we'll be able to make this offense go,'' Scott said..

EXTRA POINTS: Clawson said he had two other chances to interview for coordinator spots at BCS schools but declined. He would not say if one was in the SEC. … Fulmer said this is a new era of Tennessee offense, meaning it's the first time he's gone outside the UT family to hire an offensive coordinator. … Fulmer said the next spot he will fill is a tight ends coach, which might end speculation that Kevin Steele would leave Alabama as defensive coordinator to join the UT staff so he could coach with his close friend, UT defensive coordinator John Chavis. … Richmond quarterback Stacy Tutt, a fullback for the Jets, threw for 2,000 yards and ran for almost 1,000 for the Spiders. Tutt was moved from quarterback to tight end to start one season by Clawson, who wasn't pleased by Tutt's lack of preparation. Tutt was later moved back to quarterback.

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