KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A pair of familiar faces to Tennessee football fans will be on the sidelines during new coach Josh Heupel’s first year at the helm of the Vols.
UT announced Friday that Rodney Garner and Willie Martinez will return to Rocky Top this season. Garner will coach the defensive line and Martinez will serve as secondary coach.
“Bringing coach Garner and coach Martinez back to Tennessee is an important step for our program,” Heupel said. “They understand what it takes to build an elite defense in the SEC and have developed numerous NFL Draft picks through the years.
“They also coached and mentored many student-athletes on some of Tennessee’s most successful teams.”
Martinez and Heupel have been working together the past three seasons at Central Florida. Martinez was the assistant head coach and secondary coach at UCF.
Martinez will sign a two-year contract worth $875,000 according to a memorandum of understanding, plus a $35,000 moving stipend and $600 monthly vehicle allowance.
Garner will earn 1.175 million over the next two years with a $150,000 retention bonus if he is employed through Feb. 15, 2023. He, too, will get the moving stipend and vehicle allowance.
Martinez played a key role in the same positions from 2014-16 at Tennessee under former coach Butch Jones. The last two seasons of that stint, the Vols won nine games and won the 2016 Outback Bowl and 2016 Music City Bowl.
Garner last coached tight ends and offensive tackles for two years (1996-97) at Tennessee.
For the past eight seasons Garner served as associated head coach and defensive line coach at Auburn.
The two have a history together as both coached on Georgia’s staff from 2001-09.