KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Receivers coach Zach Azzanni was the final coach hired Butch Jones’ rapidly assembled staff.
While Azzanni had close links to Jones, his path to Knoxville wasn’t a given.
Jones could have turned to his receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Cincinnati in T.J. Weist. He pursued and offered the job to former Vol great Tee Martin. (Martin turned the job down to remain at Southern California).
But ultimately Jones turned to Azzanni, his assistant head coach at Central Michigan who later served at Florida, Western Kentucky and most recently Wisconsin.
“I really set the bar high,” Jones said on the Vol Calls radio show Monday night. “I thought the final piece to the puzzle was Zach Azzanni. I think he’s the best in the country.”
Azzanni is helping the Badgers prepare for the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 against No. 8 Stanford. Jones said he would fly into Knoxville on Thursday to meet with other staff members before returning to Madison.
“He’s fired up,” Jones said. “He had a number of job opportunities and he chose to come with us in Knoxville.”
Jones, a former receivers coach himself, said he takes “great pride” in the position. Azzanni will have his work cut out for him in 2013.
1999-2000: Valparaiso (Wide Receivers)
2001-02: Bowling Green State (Graduate Assistant, Offense)
2003-06: Bowling Green State (Wide Receivers)
2007-09: Central Michigan (Assistant Head Coach / Wide Receivers)
2010: Florida (Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator)
2011: Western Kentucky (Offensive Coordinator / Wide Receivers)
2012: Wisconsin (Wide Receivers)
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