Sal Sunseri Will Be a Coaching Rarity for the Tennessee Volunteers

Riley BlevinsContributor IApril 25, 2012

From underneath the very shadows of Neyland Stadium to the far-stretching backwoods of East Tennessee, the most imaginative fans and the most level-headed orange-lovers agree—Derek Dooley is in hot water.

No doubt, Dooley’s job security is a hot topic. Underproduction and disciplinary issues continue to mount under the Dooley regime.  This offseason is only further proof with endless headlines swirling about turmoil between the third-year head coach and his best signee to date, Da’Rick Rogers.  

In the eyes of even the most far-strayed sports individual, Tennessee fans have plenty of negatives to over-analyze and debate.  But could all this negativity be casting a shadow on a coaching rarity at UT?

With Pat Summit marking the last stable piece of Tennessee athletics to either step down or be fired, could there be unseen stability lurking in the defensive side of the coach’s box? Quite possibly.   

There are many new faces in the 2012 Tennessee football program. A hectic offseason saw a revolving door of coaching changes—five assistants out and five new ones in. However, amongst the craze, promise can be found in first-year defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri.

Sunseri has won two national championships as an assistant coach at Alabama and nearly missed a Super Bowl victory as a defensive line coach with the Carolina Panthers. Sunseri has been around nothing but winning and expects to succeed in his new venture to Knoxville.   

Yes, Sunseri has served as a position coach for the majority of his career, but that should not be too much of a worry for Vol fans.

The one-time Alabama linebackers coach developed a stringent reputation as a national recruiting force, being named the 2011 SEC Recruiter of the Year. 

Sunseri regularly goes above and beyond the recruiting call to land top talent.  The first time coordinator wasted little time establishing his recruiting prominence at Tennessee, playing a large role in the signing of junior college transfer Darrington Sentimore.

Sentimore was a member of Alabama’s 2009 and 2010 teams and it is no coincidence that Sunseri and the JUCO transfer are paired together once more.

If Dooley will be able to turn around a struggling Vols program remains to be seen. With this said, I think it is a safe to say Sunseri will improve a Volunteers defense that will field eight returning starters.