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Former Vol joins football staff

Tennessee confirmed through a Tuesday afternoon press release that former Vols running back Jay Graham has been hired away from South Carolina as UT’s new running backs coach, and that he will replace former wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett on the staff.

Jay Graham, a former Tennessee running back star who still stands seventh on UT's all-time rushing list, has joined coach Derek Dooley's staff as running backs coach. Graham spent the past several years at SEC East rival South Carolina.

Graham and Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley were quoted in the release, which is listed below.

Though this wasn’t mentioned in the release, multiple sources close to the program have told govols247 since last week that Dooley was shuffling his staff in the wake of Baggett’s exit, with quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw moving to receivers and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney taking over quarterback-coaching duties.

UT’s staff will probably need a bit more tweaking, though, and possibly very soon. Sources haven’t confirmed reports that Vols tight ends/special teams coach Eric Russell is headed to Washington State with former boss Mike Leach — the duo spent several years together at Texas Tech — but some in the UT program have indicated to govols247 since last week that Russell’s departure was a possibility.

Here is a copy of Tennessee’s release on the Graham/Baggett news.

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Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley announced today the addition of Vols letterman Jay Graham to the Tennessee coaching staff as the running backs coach. Graham, most recently the running backs/tight ends coach at South Carolina, fills the vacancy on the staff created by the departure of associate head coach/wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett, who will not return to his position for the 2012 season.

“Jay is not only one of the most accomplished running backs in Tennessee history, but he has also proven to be one of the top running backs coaches in the SEC,” said Dooley. “Jay understands what it means to be a Vol, and we are thrilled to have him on our staff.”

Graham has spent the last three years on the coaching staff at South Carolina (2009-11) and coached sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore, who has rushed for a combined 2,015 yards and 27 touchdowns during his first two seasons with the Gamecocks. Lattimore was on pace to become the first South Carolina back to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers posted three consecutive from 1978-80 before an injury sidelined Lattimore for the final five games. South Carolina ranked third in the SEC this season with 198.0 rushing yards per game.

Jay Graham

“I am thankful to Coach Dooley for giving me the opportunity to return to Tennessee,” said Graham. “Tennessee is a program with great football tradition and fan support, and I am honored to join the coaching staff for the Vols.”

As a player for Tennessee, Graham rushed for 2,609 yards as a Vol from 1993-96 and ranks seventh all-time on the Vols’ career rushing chart. His most prolific season was in 1995, when he rushed for 1,438 yards on 272 carries, the second-highest rushing total in a season in UT history and the third-most attempts by a Vol running back in one year. Graham earned All-SEC Second Team honors as both a junior and a senior in 1995 and 1996, respectively, and helped the Vols to three bowl victories.

Graham’s 1995 total of 11 100-yard games is the most in Tennessee history in a single season and included a school-record nine consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts. He also posted 14 100-yard games in his Tennessee career, a total that ranks only behind Travis Henry (15) in school history. Additionally, Graham’s 25 rushing touchdowns rank tied for ninth on the Tennessee career list, and he rushed for a career-high 211 yards against Vanderbilt on Nov. 25, 1995.

A third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 1997, Graham spent six seasons in the NFL, including four with the Ravens (1997-2000) and single seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (2001) and Green Bay Packers (2002).

In 2004, Graham returned to Knoxville and graduated with a degree in psychology. He also served the 2005 season as a graduate assistant on the Vols staff and completed his master’s degree in sports management from UT in 2008. In addition to stints at South Carolina and his graduate assistant season at Tennessee, Graham has also served as an assistant coach at Miami, Ohio (2008), UT-Martin (2007), the University of San Diego (2007), and UT Chattanooga (2006).

Graham and his wife, Kelly, are the parents of two daughters, Nia and Denae, and two sons, Jayson and Kellan.

Baggett spent two seasons at Tennessee from 2010-11 as associate head coach and wide receivers coach and joined the Vols after spending the 2009 season with the St. Louis Rams.

“I appreciate Charlie’s contributions to the Tennessee football program during the last 22 months,” said Dooley. “Charlie has made an incredibly positive impact toward our efforts to build a strong foundation for future success. He has had an excellent career as a coach, and I am grateful for his efforts during his time at Tennessee.”

Baggett previously coached in college at Washington (2007-08), Michigan State (1983-92) and Minnesota (1981-82) and has also coached for multiple teams in the NFL, including the then-Houston Oilers (1993-94), Green Bay Packers (1999), Minnesota Vikings (2000-04), Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and St. Louis Rams (2009).

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