Vitello tabs VFL Richard Jackson as new assistant coach
Tennessee head baseball coach Tony Vitello announced on Saturday that VFL Richard Jackson will take over the role of volunteer assistant coach after spending the previous two seasons as a student assistant coach for the Volunteers.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee head baseball coach Tony Vitello announced on Saturday that VFL Richard Jackson will take over the role of volunteer assistant coach after spending the previous two seasons as a student assistant coach for the Volunteers.
Jackson will take the place of former volunteer assistant Ross Kivett, who recently accepted a full-time assistant coaching position at the University of Houston.
“The secret sauce, if any, to our program is that we have some of the best assistant coaches and support personnel in college baseball,” Vitello said. “It has become a routine for those folks to receive outside offers since we have been in Knoxville.
“Due to NCAA limits on two paid assistants in baseball, the one thing we can’t offer Ross right now is a full-time position with benefits. Houston could do that. We are happy to see one Vol rewarded for his efforts and success. We are equally excited to see another Vol move up to fill in the void left behind.”
During the last two seasons as a student assistant coach, Jackson worked closely with pitching coach Frank Anderson to develop one of the country’s top pitching staffs.
This past season, Tennessee’s pitching staff ranked in the top 10 nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2nd – 3.63), walks allowed/nine innings (3rd – 2.49), WHIP (5th – 1.16) and ERA (10th – 3.51) as the Big Orange won 50 games for just the third time in program history and advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 2005.
During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Vols ranked among the top 25 in the nation in a handful of statistical categories, including: WHIP (0.94 - second), ERA (2.00 - fourth), hits allowed/nine innings (6.41 - 16th), shutouts (three - 12th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.89 - third) and walks allowed/nine innings (2.06 - third).
Prior to joining Vitello’s staff as a student assistant, Jackson was a pitcher for the Vols from 2015-19. Under the guidance of Anderson, Jackson completely changed his delivery prior to the 2019 season and had a breakout campaign in which he helped lead the Big Orange to the NCAA regionals for the first time since 2005.
The Atlanta native went 1-0 and posted careers bests in ERA (1.40), appearances (21), innings pitched (19.1) and strikeouts (21) while holding opponents to a .119 batting average. In his final outing with UT, Jackson threw 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit while tying a career high with four strikeouts against No. 14 North Carolina in the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional.
In his new role, Jackson will also coordinate and oversee Tennessee’s year-round baseball camps.
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