Report: Tennessee targeting Hugh Freeze as OC

Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has emerged as a primary target at Tennessee to fill the Vols' offensive coordinator vacancy, according to ESPN insider Chris Low, who has more than two decades of experience covering the Vols and the SEC.

"I think Hugh Freeze is a real possibility and he will be given serious consideration," Low said Wednesday on Jayson Swain's radio show. "(Jeremy) Pruitt has several guys on his list and one of those guys is Freeze. I don't know that he's the guy at the head of that list, but I do expect Jeremy to talk to him. I think he can help Tennessee. He could help Jeremy. He's proven. (Nick) Saban tried to hire him last year before the SEC sort of squashed that.

"A lot of the stuff he talked with Saban and his staff about they ran this year at Alabama. I do think Freeze is in it and will be given serious consideration. If Jeremy decides that who he wants and he's the best fit, then I think it'll happen."

Tyson Helton leaving Knoxville to become Western Kentucky's head coach leaves a tremendous hole on Pruitt's staff that must be filled with a hire that makes an immediate impact on a struggling unit. Tennessee finished last in the SEC this season in total offense (325.5 yards per game), 13th in points per game (22.8), 10th in third down conversions and 11th in turnovers (16th).

Low also mentioned Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos and Auburn OC Chip Lindsey as possibilities.

"Another guy I would put in that mix is (South Carolina's) Bryan McClendon," Low said. "Jeremy wanted him last year and (Will) Muschamp made him the OC at South Carolina. It would take a lot of money to get him. They were paying Helton $1.2 million. I don't think McClendon is making that at South Carolina."

The Volunteers' offensive numbers improved from 2017 to 2018, but the bar was fairly low considering that Tennessee was downright putrid on offense for nearly the entire 2017 season. There will be plenty of discussion on how this coordinator change will affect the on-field product in Knoxville, but it could also have an affect on recruiting.

One of Tennessee's class of 2019 commitments, three-star quarterback Brian Maurer, reacted to the news of Helton leaving on Twitter. Maurer tagged Helton in a tweet in which he lamented not getting to play a season in his offense.

"Best of luck to you coach ! Wish i would’ve gotten at least a year with you . @Coach_Helton," Maurer tweeted this week. It sounds like Maurer was looking forward to playing in Helton's offense.

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