UM could land Vols' top coaching target

UPDATE: Northern Illinois assistant Roy Manning has been named multiple times as the favorite to take over for Jay Graham as running backs coach at Tennessee under Butch Jones. Manning appears to be leaning in a different direction, and he could return to his alma mater.

"I continue to hear that Northern Illinois running backs coach Roy Manning is a strong candidate to join Brady Hoke's staff as linebackers coach," Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com wrote.

Jones isn't likely to have a shortage of candidates to replace Graham, but it appears Manning won't follow his old coach to Knoxville.


Tennessee head coach Butch Jones will scramble to replace running backs coach Jay Graham with less than two weeks remaining before the Volunteers open spring practice. Graham accepted a position with Florida State leaving a void on Tennessee's staff.

A pair of names familiar to Jones could be the first two candidates under consideration. At least six more could enter the conversation.

The first option has a history coaching for Jones.

"One name to keep in mind is former Cincinnati running backs coach Roy Manning," Chris Price of InsideTennessee.com wrote. "A former Michigan Wolverine, Manning spent four seasons in the NFL with various teams before returning to the college game in the coaching ranks. He is currently employed at Northern Illinois."

Manning was Jones' running backs coach last season. Although, Tennessee may not be his only option even if Jones would like to hire him to replace Graham.

"It should be noted that Brady Hoke has a position open on the defensive side of the ball at Michigan," Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com wrote. "Manning (a former Michigan player) could enter the mix to return to Michigan, as well."

Another candidate that applied for a previous opening on Tennessee's staff could also work his way into the picture.

"One potential candidate could be Des Kitchings, current N.C. State running backs coach and former Vanderbilt assistant, who earlier in this process had interest in the Vols' then-open wide receivers job," Brent Hubbs of VolQuest.com wrote.

Evan Woodbery of GoVolsXtra.com added a few more possibilities which included former Chicago Bears assistant Tim Spencer, former Tulane assistant Thomas Woods, former Auburn assistant Trooper Taylor, Troy assistant Jeff Beckles, Notre Dame's director of player development Ernest Jones and Arizona assistant Tony Dews.

The most interesting name on Woodbery's list is Taylor who was taken off the road last year at Auburn due to possible recruiting violations. If Tennessee isn't afraid of what might follow Taylor, he is the most dynamic recruiter of the bunch.

Any potential candidate will have large shoes to fill:

Edward Aschoff

Jay Graham heading to Florida State

"The loss of Graham is a big hit to Jones' staff. Not only did he do a very good job of restoring some respectability to the Vols' running game last fall but he's a top-notch recruiter. Before he even arrived at Tennessee, Graham made recruiting headlines by helping to get Marcus Lattimore to South Carolina. He then watched over Lattimore as he enjoyed a fabulous freshman campaign in 2010.

Graham was key when it came to recruiting Tennessee's most high-profile signees in the 2013 class. Most notably, he helped bring in wide receivers Marquez North, an ESPN 150 member, Paul Harris, who enrolled early, and quarterback Riley Ferguson.

Graham was the one coach Jones just couldn't afford to lose this early into his Tennessee tenure."