Former Vol Fair relishing chance to coach at 'amazing place'
Nobody on Tennessee's coaching staff knows what the Vols can be better than Terry Fair.
As a player two decades ago, he lived Tennessee football during its heyday in the 1990s.
Fair was an All-SEC defensive back and return man and was a captain on Tennessee's 1997 SEC championship team before going on to become a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1998 and playing eight years at the next level.
Now he's back at Tennessee coaching the cornerbacks on first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt's staff.
"Tennessee is an amazing place," Fair said during the latest installment of the "Field Level" series featuring the assistant coaches, posted on Tennessee's official Twitter account on Wednesday. "It's just a phenomenal place to play. It's a phenomenal place to be."
After his NFL career wrapped up in 2005, Fair returned to Tennessee to complete his degree in 2010 ahead of his first coaching stint in his hometown at Phoenix (Ariz.) College for two seasons. He returned to Knoxville and was co-hosting a radio show when he was hired to Tennessee's support staff by Butch Jones in 2013. Fair spent two seasons in a quality control role helping coach the defensive backs.
Fair parlayed his two years with the Vols into a full-time coaching job at Colorado State on Mike Bobo's staff with the Rams.
He spent three seasons at Colorado State before joining offensive line coach Will Friend in joining Tennessee's new staff in December.
This spring gave Fair the chance to work alongside Pruitt in coaching up an unproven group of cornerbacks, including a trio of players the Vols moved from other positions in former running back Carlin Fils-aime, former wide receiver Alontae Taylor and former safety Maleik Gray.
Working with the players and having the chance to improve them on and off the field is what Fair likes most about coaching.
"I love the interaction with the young men," he said, "and each and every day you get a chance to influence, you get a chance to mentor, you get a chance to teach and hopefully you can make a difference and be an impact in a young man's life."
Pruitt last month joked Fair has "the worst position to coach" among the new assistants because the head coach is so hands-on with the position Fair coaches. If you didn't know any better, you'd think Pruitt was one of Tennessee's defensive backs coaches and not the head coach. That's how involved he is with the secondary players.
Tennessee's new coach also hailed Fair for being the example of what the current players are striving for in their own careers.
"They've got to know that you care," Fair said. "You've got to be tough. You've got to coach them tough, you've got to love them tough. You've got to show that passion each and every day."