Next UT coach: Tim Brewster?

With Tennessee seeking a new head football coach, will spend the coming days profiling some top candidates. Today's is Minnesota Gopher head man Tim Brewster.

At Tennessee, you can't win on the football field unless you win on the recruiting trail. Phillip Fulmer proved as much during his stint as head man, recruiting brilliantly and winning big in the 1990s. As Fulmer's recruiting slipped, however, so did UT's records.

This crying need for a first-rate recruiter should put Tim Brewster near the top of the Vols' Most Wanted List. When it comes to identifying and luring talent, he reportedly is relentless. As head coach of the Minnesota Gophers, Brewster's challenge is much like the one facing a Tennessee head coach – competing against several rivals with great in-state talent (Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania Michigan), while having a light in-state prospect pool himself. This forced Brewster to recruit nationally, much as Fulmer had to do.

Brewster's knack for recruiting may stem from his association with Mack Brown. Brewster joined Brown's North Carolina staff as an unpaid volunteer assistant in 1989. His work was so good that he was promoted to tight ends/special teams coach and recruiting coordinator a year later.

Brewster followed Brown to Texas in 1998, where he helped recruit Vince Young, among others. Brewster left Austin in 2002 to become tight ends coach of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, where he was credited with transforming Antonio Gates from an undrafted free agent into a Pro Bowl tight end within two years.

After two years with the Chargers and two more with the Denver Broncos, Brewster accepted the head coaching reins at Minnesota, long a Big Ten doormat. His first team went 1-11 overall (0-8 in the league) in 2007 but this year's team is zipping along at 7-2 and 3-2.

Born 48 years ago in Phillipsburg, N.J., Brewster was a team captain and All-Big Ten tight end at the University of Illinois.

Two items on the Minnesota Gophers' official website reveal a lot about Brewster that Tennessee fans are sure to find intriguing. First is his perspective on recruiting:

"The No. 1 thing we're looking for in our players is toughness. Second, we're looking for passion, and third we are looking for smart guys. The fourth thing we always want to address is that we're looking for playmakers. Regardless of position, we need playmakers on this football team."

Equally interesting is Brewster's dedication to special-teams play:

"A lot of people give lip service to being a good special teams unit. At Minnesota, we call it special forces. What we have done is made the commitment – time-wise and field-wise – to the fact that guys aren't going to get a rest when it comes to our special teams. We really want to be good on special teams. I would like to see us be the best special teams unit in the country. The big thing is that our best special teams players are going to play on the special forces."

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