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UT-Martin, Simpson make several key staff moves

Jason Simpson, the Ohio Valley Conference's dean of football coaches, has made a number of moves to his Skyhawks' staff on the heels of the program's spring 2021 season and in advance of an important fall campaign.

Simpson, whose coaching tree includes multiple former assistants in Power 5 conferences and at the NFL level, is adding Drew Tate as UTM's quarterbacks coach and elevating Devonte Howard from his graduate assistant role to become the Skyhawks' full-time running backs coach.

Defensively, Simpson is tabbing Sheldon Dawson as the Skyhawks' cornerbacks coach.

A former Iowa Hawkeyes standout who played professionally in the Canadian Football League, Tate assumes arguably the second-most important staffing spot on the UTM offensive side of the ball in working with signal-callers for the offensive-minded Simpson.

Tate first worked as a collegiate coach in 2018 at Coastal Carolina, going immediately into the coaching ranks after an 11-year run as a professional player who briefly spent time with the St. Louis Rams before becoming a CFL veteran.

Tate also worked with quarterbacks for the BC Lions in 2019 before spending the 2020 season in The Spring League.

Howard is a former standout player for the Skyhawks who's already ascending to a full-time role after just one season as a G.A. for wide receivers coach Tyler Rice.

In the secondary, Dawson, like Howard, is a former UTM star player. After wrapping up his career with the Skyhawks after the 2016 season, Howard garnered an invite to the Jacksonville Jaguars' rookie camp.

Dawson had been serving as head coach at Douglass High School in Memphis.

The Skyhawks, coming off a 3-4 spring season in which three of their four losses were by a combined 11 points, are scheduled to open the fall slate Thursday, Sept. 2, at Western Kentucky.