Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced the hiring of Derrick Ansley as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach on Friday.
Ansley comes to the Vols following one year as the defensive backs coach for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Prior to this stint in the NFL, Ansley worked with Pruitt at Alabama as the defensive backs coach for the Crimson Tide in 2017 and 2016. He helped Alabama win the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2017.
Ansley is a 14-year veteran of the coaching ranks, developing a reputation as one of the Southeastern Conference’s most respected defensive backs coaches and one of the nation’s top recruiters. Ansley coached the cornerbacks (2013-14) and was the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach (2015) at Kentucky after a one-year stint with the defensive backs at Tennessee (2012). Ansley first worked with Pruitt as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 2010-11, helping the Crimson Tide capture the 2011 BCS National Championship.
“Derrick was a graduate assistant for me for two years at Alabama and then was the defensive backs coach,” Pruitt said. “We are very familiar with each other. It’s good to work from the back to the front (of the defense). I think he brings a lot of experience. He has coached a lot of really good players. And probably, when I start a sentence, he can finish it.
“Derrick has been in really high demand for several years. He’s a guy who is ready for this. He has been ready for quite some time. With Derrick, Kevin (Sherrer), Chris (Rumph) and Tracy (Rocker) in one room, I can already see the cohesiveness. They communicate well together.”
Ansley got his start in coaching at NCAA Division III Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala., where he was an assistant for five seasons (2005-09) after an all-conference career as a defensive back at Troy (2001-04). He finished second in Trojans’ history in interceptions (19) and teamed with future NFL All-Pro Demarcus Ware.
Ansley has been part of two national championship teams at Alabama (2017 and 2011) and directly coached five NFL Draft selections with the Crimson Tide from 2016-17, including first-round picks Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey, as well as Ronnie Harrison, Anthony Averett and Eddie Jackson. Fitzpatrick was a consensus All-American in 2016 and collected unanimous All-America honors in 2017, while also winning the Thorpe Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. Humphrey grabbed first-team All-America honors in 2016, as well.
In 2018, Ansley coached a Raiders’ defensive back unit that improved dramatically from the year prior to his arrival. The Raiders increased their interception total by +9 under Ansley, totaling 14 picks in 2018 after making only five in 2017. Additionally, the Raiders totaled 73 passes defended in 2018 after tallying 56 in 2017. Ansley coached Gareon Conley in Oakland. Conley finished fifth in the NFL with 15 passes defended as he made tremendous strides in his second year in the league, starting 14 games after appearing in only two games as a rookie.
In 2017 and 2016, Ansley teamed with Pruitt as coaches of the nation’s top defenses at Alabama. Alabama had the nation’s No. 1 total defense and No. 1 scoring defense both seasons, leading the SEC in passing defense (165.7 ypg) and interceptions (19) in 2017. Alabama was tied for the SEC lead with 16 interceptions in 2016 and also led the nation with 11 defensive touchdowns.
At Kentucky, Ansley helped the Wildcat defense record a school-record six defensive touchdowns while creating 23 turnovers that ranked second in the SEC in 2015.
With the Vols in 2012, Ansley coached future NFL defensive backs Justin Coleman and Brian Randolph as well as safety Byron Moore, who led the SEC with five interceptions.
Before his first stint on Rocky Top, Ansley was a graduate assistant at Alabama for two years. The Tide went 12-1 to claim the national championship in 2011, featuring the nation's best defense, which ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense, total defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense. He worked with All-Americans Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie during his time at Alabama.
After he graduated college, Ansley spent five seasons coaching at Huntingdon College. During his tenure with the Hawks, Ansley helped guide the team to its first winning season and the school's first playoff appearance. Huntingdon produced a winning record in four of the five seasons he was on staff with two eight-win campaigns.
Ansley starred on the gridiron at Troy, starting 40 consecutive games for the Trojans. He finished third in the nation in interceptions as a junior in 2003 with nine picks. Ansley then garnered first team All-Sun Belt Conference honors as a senior in 2004, Troy's first season in the league.
Ansley and his wife, Alaea, have a daughter, Selena.
Pruitt Announces 2019 Coaching Staff
Pruitt announced his complete coaching staff with updated positions and titles for 2019 on Friday, as well.
The 2019 Tennessee football coaching staff features coaches who have won a combined 16 national championships and 29 conference championships, while coaching more than 190 NFL Draft picks, including 37 first-round selections, and 66 All-Americans.
Tennessee’s 2019 football coaching staff:
Jeremy Pruitt – Head Coach
Jim Chaney – Offensive Coordinator
Derrick Ansley – Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Backs
Chris Rumph – Co-Defensive Coordinator / Outside Linebackers
Kevin Sherrer – Special Teams Coordinator / Inside Linebackers
Tee Martin – Assistant Head Coach / Passing Game Coordinator / Wide Receivers
Will Friend – Offensive Line
David Johnson – Running Backs
Brian Niedermeyer – Tight Ends
Tracy Rocker – Defensive Line
Chris Weinke – Quarterbacks