The 40-year-old spent this past season with the New York Jets' No. 1-ranked defense as pass rush specialist and assistant defensive line coach. Jets head coach Rex Ryan first hired Smith in Baltimore in 2008 when Ryan was the Ravens' defensive coordinator and named Smith his pass rush coach.
"I want to thank Mike Hamilton and President Jan Simek for running UT like a first-class organization and bringing Derek in," Smith said of his new head coach. "I know exactly the kind of character Derek has and exactly the kind of football coach he is."
Smith built his coaching reputation as a defensive line specialist throughout the previous decade. There are nearly 60 NFL players over the last five seasons to whom Smith has personally taught, trained and mentored the art of defensive line play.
Among his star pupils are three former Vols -- Albert Haynesworth, who this past season signed a $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins; Robert Ayers, a 2009 NFL first-round pick of the Denver Broncos; and Shaun Ellis, a Pro-Bowler with the New York Jets. Others include Baltimore's Ray Lewis, Oakland's Richard Seymour, the New York Giants' Osi Umenyiora, Atlanta's Jonathan Babeneaux, the New York Jets' Bart Scott, San Diego's Larry English, Cleveland's Shaun Rogers and Seattle's Patrick Kerney, just to name a few.
In the 2009 NFL Draft, seven linemen selected in the first five rounds trained under Smith.
Smith also taught and instructed coaches from the professional to high school levels as part of Defensive Line Inc., a firm he started in 2001. Since then, Smith has concentrated his efforts on teaching and coaching what it takes to be a successful defensive lineman.
"I'm just excited about this opportunity to be a part of a program that believes not only in winning championships but also having champions off the field," Smith said. "Integrity always will be one of our goals."
Smith compiled 58 1/2 career sacks in nine NFL seasons and captained the Falcons' first and only Super Bowl appearance following the 1998 season. He later was voted "Best Defensive Lineman in Team History" by the Atlanta Falcons fans.
At Tennessee, Smith started at right defensive end in both of his UT playing seasons. He helped the Vols to 1990 SEC and Sugar Bowl championships and earned All-SEC honors for the 1991 Vols that advanced to the Fiesta Bowl. During his senior campaign, Smith made 13 of his 64 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Nine of those stops were quarterbacks sacks for a combined minus-74 yards.
He then earned MVP honors at the Senior Bowl and was a second-round selection by Atlanta in the 1992 NFL Draft.