Photo by Cathy Clarke, Knoxville News Sentinel staff

Tennessee is making another big defensive hire.

Sources confirm to FootballScoop that the Volunteers and new head coach Josh Heupel are adding Brian Jean-Mary to the Tennessee defensive staff. Michigan’s Rivals site first reported Tennessee was working to hire Jean-Mary.

Jean-Mary’s a veteran defensive assistant who’s been serving as Michigan’s linebackers coach for the past year.

Earlier during this coaching cycle, Jean-Mary was reportedly a candidate to join Urban Meyer’s new Jacksonville Jaguars staff.

Jean-Mary had a two-year contract at Michigan that ran from 2020-2022. Jean-Mary was set to make $450,000 this year for the Wolverines, and, per his initial contract terms, Jean-Mary would owe Michigan the full year’s salary to leave Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It’s unclear if Jean-Mary will owe Michigan the full amount of the buyout, of if he and Tennessee can negotiate a lesser buyout-figure.

Jean-Mary has more than two decades’ experience as a collegiate assistant coach, and he’s worked extensively with noted defensive mind Charlie Strong, the former Louisville and Texas head coach.

Strong was hired last month by Meyer to join his Jaguars staff in the NFL.

A Florida native who played collegiately at Appalachian State, Jean-Mary has stints at South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Louisville and South Florida prior to his arrival 13 months ago at Michigan.

Tennessee is closing in on its first complete staff for Heupel on Rocky Top. The Vols earlier this week tabbed former Penn State co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks into the defensive play-caller role on Rocky Top.

Heupel also brought Willie Martinez from his Central Florida staff to return to Tennessee, where Martinez previously was the Vols’ secondary coach under Butch Jones from 2013-17.

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John Brice has covered college football, mostly in the SEC as well as covering Notre Dame and Ohio State, for more than 20 years. He's a former Tennessee Vols football sideline reporter and believes life should be spent traveling or planning the next trip.