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Sources: Tennessee Vols, Kevin Steele working on staff moves

A source with firsthand-knowledge on Tuesday afternoon told FootballScoop that interim University of Tennessee Kevin Steele was expected to be allowed to make some on-field hires to fill the handful of openings on the Volunteers' staff.

Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, sources told FootballScoop the direction Steele is working to take in what Steele intends to be his initial staff maneuvers, if and when Tennessee allows its interim coach to attempt to fill out the myriad openings in the Vols' football department.

Sources informed FootballScoop that Steele, officially the Vols' interim coach following the program's Monday firing of Jeremy Pruitt amidst both an internal and external investigation, is moving to reunite with veteran defensive assistant Rodney Garner. Additionally, Steele is discussing a plan to move former Vols standout linebacker Kevin Simon from his off-field role as director of player development into Tennessee's linebackers coach's position.

Garner is expected to return to Rocky Top as the Vols' defensive line coach, if Tennessee can finalize the deal. He also in that scenario reunites with Steele, with whom he has just finished working alongside at Auburn – Garner's alma mater.

Among the most acclaimed defensive line coaches in college football, Garner through his work at Georgia and Auburn for nearly a quarter century. With those stops and his first tour at Tennessee, Garner is responsible for double-digit NFL Draft picks along the defensive line and also is consistently ranked as one of the SEC's and college football's top recruiting specialists.

Following impressive NFL work as a scout in both the Atlanta Falcons' and Dallas Cowboys' organizations, Simon is in his third year back on Rocky Top after his standout career for the Vols in the early-2000s.

Even with these pending moves, Tennessee still has multiple openings on its football staff. Tennessee wideouts coach Tee Martin is on an expiring contract at month's end, Will Friend's spot as Vols' offensive line coach remains open and the Vols also are down three defensive assistants after the dismissals in the past four months of Jimmy Brumbaugh, Shelton Felton and Brian Niedermeyer.

If Steele eventually returns to a role as position coach and the Vols can hang onto Derrick Ansley, their defensive staff is full with these latest moves.

Ansley's name has been linked to multiple other college jobs, and he's also viewed as a potential candidate to return to the NFL. He has a longstanding relationship with former Vols graduate assistant and just-named Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.

Stay tuned for more from Rocky Top; and as always, head directly to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.