Harry Hiestand (pronounced HE-stand) faced the task a year ago of putting together his first offensive line at Tennessee from an inexperienced group. The Vols returned only one player with any starting experience at all, and that amounted to a total of three starts.
Yet the former Super Bowl coach with the Chicago Bears molded Tennessee's young but talented group up front and formed a unit that should be a foundation for growth over the next few seasons.
Hiestand saw his two tackles, sophomore Dallas Thomas and true freshman Ja'Wuan James, start every game. Two more true freshmen, James Stone at center and Zach Fulton at guard, worked their way into the starting lineup under Hiestand's guidance, with Stone earning multiple Freshman All-America honors and James receiving Freshman All-SEC recognition.
Hiestand's group collectively helped tailback Tauren Poole's efforts in tying for the SEC lead with six 100-yard rushing games and registering just the 16th 1,000-yard rushing season in UT history with 1,034 yards.
The Malvern, Pa., native came to UT after five seasons as offensive line coach with the Chicago Bears, where he helped the NFL franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years.
Before that, Hiestand was the offensive line coach for 16 consecutive seasons at three BCS universities, with the longest tenure being eight seasons as offensive line coach and assistant head coach at Illinois.
The 52-year-old has been coaching offensive linemen and tight ends since 1982. In Chicago, Hiestand molded units that were known for their physical play in the run game and ability to protect the quarterback. The NFC-champion Bears of 2006 attempted 539 passes while permitting just 25 sacks, and the 2008 squad attempted 557 passes and absorbed just 29 sacks. Hiestand had the chance to coach three of NFLs all-time best at their positions, including center Olin Kreutz, guard Ruben Brown, and tackle Orlando Pace.
During his Illinois days, Hiestand coached 12 All-Big Ten Conference selections on the offensive line. Every starting offensive lineman in his first seven years with the Illini made it to an NFL camp. Hiestand joined Illinois in 1997 after spending three seasons at Missouri. Prior to his stint as offensive line coach with the Tigers, he coached the same position at Cincinnati for five seasons (1989-93) and also was run-game coordinator in 1992 and offensive coordinator in 1993.
Hiestand coached tight ends and assisted with the offensive line at Toledo in 1988, was a graduate assistant at Southern California in 1987, and tight ends and assistant offensive line coach at Pennsylvania in 1986.
He became a full-time assistant coach at East Stroudsburg in 1983, staying four years at the Division II school. That was after injuries ended his playing days, which had begun at Springfield College in Massachusetts before he transferred. Hiestand earned his bachelor's degree in health and physical education from East Stroudsburg in 1983.
Hiestand and his wife, Terri, have four children: Michael, Matthew (who works with the UT facilities group), Mark and Sarah.