Heupel adds 2 to coaching staff

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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Tennessee head football coach Josh Heupel has announced the addition of Andrew Goodman and former Volunteer and NFL veteran Robert Ayers Jr. to his support staff.

Goodman is the program’s new director of football operations, while Ayers Jr. will serve as a defensive graduate assistant.

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Goodman comes to Knoxville after a year as the director of football operations at UConn. He was part of the Huskies’ first bowl appearance since 2015. In Storrs, he oversaw all daily internal operations, team travel logistics, high school camps, and he was the program’s liaison to multiple facets of the athletic department.

Prior to UConn, Goodman served in the same capacity at Brown University from April 2019 to December 2021. He oversaw operations and assisted in the management of the program’s operating budget, while helping the head coach in facility master planning in addition to team travel logistics and social media strategy.

Goodman was a recruiting coordinator at his alma mater of Penn State from December 2016 to March 2019. He developed and executed strategic programming for official and unofficial visits during a time that the Nittany Lions produce four consecutive top-20 heralded classes. Penn State reached two New Year’s Six bowls during his tenure, including the 2017 Rose Bowl and 2018 Fiesta Bowl. The 2018 class was tabbed sixth nationally by the 247Sports Composite ranking.

Goodman was the assistant director of football operations and recruiting at Princeton from March 2015 to December 2016 after launching his career as a player personnel intern for the Buffalo Bills in the summer of 2015 and 2016. The fall of 2015 saw the Tigers claim an Ivy League championship.

Goodman lettered at wide receiver for Penn State from 2008-11 during a period that saw the Nittany Lions win the 2008 Big Ten championship and reach the Rose Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl and Ticket City Bowl.

The Philadelphia native earned two degrees from Penn State. He received his bachelor’s degree in supply chain and information systems in 2012, and he completed his master’s degree in educational leadership in 2021.

Ayers Jr. returns to his alma mater after launching his coaching career in the Knoxville area. He served as the defensive line coach (2020) and defensive coordinator (2021) at Knoxville Catholic High School before taking the defensive coordinator position at Oak Ridge High School for the 2022 season. He excelled and was named 2022 Tennessee Class 5A Region 3 Assistant Coach of the Year.

Ayers Jr. completed an outstanding 10-year NFL career in 2018. The No. 18 overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by Denver, Ayers Jr. played five seasons with the Broncos and appeared in 72 games with 142 tackles, 12 sacks and 26 tackles for loss on the defensive line. Denver made three playoff appearances during his time and won the AFC Championship in 2013 to reach Super Bowl XLVIII.

Ayers Jr. spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the New York Giants. He enjoyed the best season of his career in 2015, setting a career high with 9.5 sacks, which led the squad. He finished that season with 41 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss.

He played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2016-17. He logged 60 tackles and 8.5 sacks in his two seasons. He played his final NFL season with the Detroit Lions in 2018.

He officially announced his retirement from professional football in July 2019, finishing his career with 265 total tackles and 34.5 sacks.

Ayers Jr. earned four letters with the Vols from 2005-08 after redshirting in 2004. During his four-year on-field career, he collected 113 tackles with 31.5 tackles for loss in 48 games played at defensive end.

He led the Vols in tackles for loss in each of his final two years, totaling 27.5 during that stretch. Ayers Jr. earned first-team All-SEC honors as a senior team captain in 2008, starting all 12 games at defensive end and leading the conference with 15.5 tackles for loss. He paced the UT line with 49 total tackles—34 solo—and established himself as an NFL Draft first round pick. That spring leading up to the draft, he was named defensive most valuable player of the 2009 Senior Bowl.

Ayers Jr. shared the Andy Spiva Award as the Vols’ most improved defender in 2008, while helping UT tie for third in the country in total defense (263.5 ypg) and rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense (16.8 ppg).

He was a member of the Vols’ 2007 SEC Eastern Division championship team, registering 12 tackles for loss and four sacks while appearing in all 14 contests. He was named the team’s “Lifter of the Year” that season.

Ayers Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee in African American studies in 2008.

Ayers Jr. and his wife, Brandi, have two daughters—Brailyn and Robyn.