University of Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley announced Friday that the Vols have hired John Palermo as defensive line coach on Jan. 20. Palermo is a veteran of 37 years of coaching, including two seasons with the Washington Redskins and 15 years at the University of Wisconsin.
"John is one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the nation," said Dooley. "He has a history of coaching and developing multiple All-Americans, all-conference players, first-round draft picks, and Pro Bowl players. Adding a coach with John's abilities and successful track record will have a positive impact on our defensive line and our program."
Palermo spent two seasons with the NFL's Washington Redskins from 2008-09, during which time he coached Brian Orapko, who earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie in a dual role as a defensive end and linebacker. Washington also finished fourth overall in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game in 2008 and 10th in 2009. The 2008 Redskins defense also finished sixth in the league in fewest points allowed.
Palermo spent 15 years under head coach Barry Alvarez at the University of Wisconsin, during which time he coached four first-team All-Americans, four Big Ten Defensive Linemen of the Year, two Big Ten Defensive Players of the Year, and a pair of first-round draft selections in Wendell Bryant (2002) and Erasmus James (2005). In 2004, the entire Wisconsin starting defensive line was selected in the NFL Draft, and the Badgers won two Big 10 titles during his tenure.
Palermo served as assistant head coach during his 15 years at Wisconsin, leading the outside linebackers from 1991-95 and the defensive line from 1996-2005. Before joining the Badgers, Palermo spent one season as the head coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.
Most recently on the staff at Middle Tennessee for two seasons (2010-11), Palermo's 2010 Blue Raider defensive line unit featured Jamari Lattimore, who earned Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year that season and currently plays for the Green Bay Packers.
Palermo spent two seasons at Notre Dame under head coach Lou Holtz from 1988-89, including the Fighting Irish's national championship season of 1988. While at Notre Dame, Palermo coached defensive lineman Chris Zorich, a two-time consensus All-American and the 1990 winner of Lombardi Award.
Other coaching stops for Palermo include a four-year stint as the defensive line coach at Minnesota (1984-87), service as assistant head coach, defensive line, and linebackers coach at Appalachian State from 1983-84, three years as the defensive line coach at Memphis from 1980-82, and one year as the defensive line coach at Austin Peay. He began his coaching career as an assistant at North Carolina State from 1977-78 following three years at Bainbridge High School in Georgia.
Palermo is a native of Newburgh, N.Y., and lettered at Florida State in 1972-73. A 1974 graduate of Florida State, Palermo and his wife, Donna, have a son, Jason, who coaches tight ends and special teams at Southern University, and a daughter, Jessica, who is the assistant director of championships at the Big 10 Conference.
JOHN PALERMO COACHING HISTORY
2010-11 » Middle Tennessee, Defensive Line
2008-09 » Washington Redskins, Defensive Line
2007 » Tennessee Tech, Defensive Line
2006 » Miami (Fla.), Defensive Line
1991-2005 » Wisconsin, Assistant Head Coach ('91-'05), Outside Linebackers ('91-95), Defensive Line ('96-'05)
1990 » Austin Peay State, Head Coach
1988-89 » Notre Dame, Defensive Line
1984-87 » Minnesota, Defensive Line
1983 » Appalachian State, Assistant Head Coach, Defensive Line
1980-82 » Memphis State, Defensive Line
1979 » Austin Peay State, Defensive Line, Strength and Conditioning
1977-78 » North Carolina State, Nose Guards, Centers, Guards