KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee has hired UCF’s now-former head coach Josh Heupel just 9 days after firing former head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Heupel’s official bio is now on the Tennessee staff website.
It’s pronounced HYPE-ul.
Heupel grew up in a map dot in eastern South Dakota. He is the son of a high school principal named Cindy and a head football coach at Northern State University named Ken.
Heupel was quarterback for the Central High School Golden Eagles before entering college in Utah. He transferred to the the University of Oklahoma where he graduated with a degree in business marketing in 2001.
He’s married to Dawn, who attended the same high school, and the couple have a daughter and son.
Led Oklahoma to national championship as a player, Heisman runner-up
Heupel was the runner-up to Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke for the Heisman in 2000, coming out ahead of 3rd-place Drew Brees. Others in the running for the Heisman that year included LaDainain Tomlinson, Michael Vick and Santana Moss.
A star quarterback for the Sooners, Heupel led his team to an undefeated season that culminated with a national championship over Florida State in 2001 Orange Bowl. He was named an All-American, the AP Player of the Year, Archie Grifin Award winner and more.
Heupel still ranks as one of Oklahoma’s top three quarterbacks in passing yards, completions and TDs. While there for two seasons, Heupel posted a 20-5 record. He passed for 7,465 yards and 53 TDs.
He’s credited with helping develop prolific quarterbacks
Among the players he’s mentored are Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. He went on to be the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
He helped Landry Jones finish third in NCAA history for most career passing yards. Drew Lock set the single-season SEC touchdown pass record with 44 in Heupel’s only season as offensive coordinator at Missouri in 2017.
He was drafted into the NFL but injury led him into coaching
Miami Dolphins drafted Heupel in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL draft but failed to make the team due to injury.
In 2002, he signed with the Green Bay Packers but was released a month before training camp.
Shoulder tendinitis in his throwing arm took him out of the game. That led Heupel to Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, where he was part of a back-to-back national championship coaching staff in 2003 and 2004. This marked the start of his coaching career.
Josh Heupel’s The 14 Foundation helped Oklahoma children in need
The nonprofit organization raised funds and food for Oklahoma families. The organization hosted life skills camps for kids, held a Thanksgiving food drive, and collected about 600 Christmas gifts for disadvantaged kids, as well. Heupel’s wife Cindy ran the foundation.
The foundations website is no longer active, but you can find the foundation’s inactive Facebook page here.
When he was 4, he wanted football lockers for Christmas
In an article published in 2001 in the magazine “Bigger Faster Stronger,” Josh’s mom Cindy told writer Greg Shepard that Josh’s “vision of greatness” began early. She said as a child, Josh would re-enact games for family first as a coach, then as the quarterback. When he was 4, he asked Santa for lockers to hold his collection of hundreds of footballs, she said.
You can read the 2001 article called “Dream the Biggest Dream” on the Bigger Faster Stronger website.