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2/3/10:'X' Says:I know we all loathe Lane Kiffin but the Tennessee faithful need to give Kiffin and Coach O their due. In my opinion, Kiffin and Orgeron got in the head of Coach Richt and it effected their recruiting .... in my opinion. '
After UT wax'd Georgia back in October, UT began a relentless assault on most every prospect committed to Georgia. With Georgia's defensive coordinator and most of the defensive his staff under fire, I think Mark Richt was became consumed with trying to stay a step ahead of UT 's pursuit of their prized commitments namely Nikell Robey, TJ Stripling, Jalen Fields, Da-Rick Rogers, and Alec Ogletree.
In my opinion , UT forced Georgia into a couple of really questionable decisions. First, UT went as hard after Georgia commit defensive back Alec Ogletree and any of the Georgia commitments outside of Rogers of course. If Kiffin and Orgeron gletree were still at UT, Ogletree would at a minimum have visited UT and maybe signed here who knows. How did Richt counter UT's recruitment of Ogletree, he offered Alec Ogletree's brother, Zander, a scholarship . Zander Ogletree is a fairly good running back but he is not an SEC running back at 5'9 210 lbs. Seems clear to me Richt burned one scholarship to save another.
Also, after taking two very good quarterbacks in their 2009 signing class Georgia felt compelled to take a quarterback in this class. a Once Georgia received a commitment from in state quarterback Hutson Mason.... Kiffin and Oregeron really turned up the heat on Nash Nance and Da-Rick Rogers.. Knowing that Richt, given his quarterback depth chart, really could not afford to burn another scholarship on Nance to try and keep Rogers firmly committed to Georgia.
I don't think Rogers or Nance wind up at UT if Kiffin were still the Head Coach; however, Kiffin and Orgeron laid the groundwork for Chaney , Baggett and Dooley to make their pitch.
At one time Georgia was putting together a top five recruiting class nationally but the wheels started falling off about mid-October . I credit part of that to the former UT regime. I think for 3 months Mark Richt was so pre-occupied with trying to hold off UT's pursuit of his commitments (remember UT beat them for Juwuan James as well during that time) that he may have taken his eye off the target to some extent
One more thing, for all the ‘ X’ haters especially those who contend I gets his stuff off message boards.... First, gimme a break and second please refer to the ‘X’ post of October 21, 2009 under the subject of wide receivers......Hmm a post about UT and Da-Rick Rogers . I was given indication as far back as mid-October that regardless of what was said in the media before all was said and done UT would be a major player for Da-Rick Rogers.
How'd that work out?
Don't sweat Glen Stanley going to USC. He would have never had academics in order to get into an SEC school.
Happy Signing Day
XPS: 'Checked with two different people I respect who are in the know in Nashville this morning.... both still seem to think Stone to Tennessee. Everybody around him including the UT staff seems to think that!
Saw where Robey is headed to USC... he too doesnt have the academics in order or would have a bit of a tough time getting them on order to get into an SEC school as I undertsand it.'
1/28/10:'X' Says:Here are a few quick hitters. 5 days to go until National Signing Day and things are as crazy as ever.
Right now early Thursday morning by my count UT has 21, 2010 public commitments, 8 of these kids are already enrolled in school.
The numbers can and will change … maybe even by the end of the day.
There are 28 prospects in play on the big board. This too is fluid almost daily. Wish I could show you some of the names!
Rivals has UT’s recruiting class ranked as a fringe top ten class which in my opinion is remarkable given the circumstances… Those being a Head Coach on the job 2 weeks, working short-handed with an incomplete staff, and a coach recruiting in a much bigger pond than at Louisiana Tech.
Of the 11 commitments that are unsigned at least 3 maybe 4 are planning to take visits to other schools this upcoming weekend. Should you be worried .. SURE…. You are always worried but this is just a part of recruiting. There will be kids visiting UT this weekend likely committed to other schools (More on this tomorrow.
For 2010, the maximum number of signees UT can admit to school in this class is 25 and that gets you to total of 27 signees.
Sitting at 21 commitments with the possibility of maybe losing a commitment before National Signing Day UT could conceivably commit and ultimately sign another 8 or 9 prospects.
I don’t think anyone knows what the new football coach’s philosophy is regarding sign and place prospects in terms of non-qualifiers but I suspect we’ll see shortly.
I don’t know if UT ends up signing 9 more prospects or not. If things fell right, (9 out of 30 is pretty high) it could happen. If things fell right, I could see a bit of a numbers crunch. Typically though, things don’t fall the way you expect them to.
Its hard to get a feel right now for official visitors this weekend. My count right now there are 4 maybe 5 prospects scheduled to be in town. I expect the number to grow but so much depends on how discussions/visits with prospects like Calvin Smith, Delvin Jones, and Chaz Green go. Don’t forget the battles UT is locked in for James Stone (with Alabama) and the kids from Calhoun. Of course, you need to plan for the unexpected too. Believe me, contingency plans are in place.
I would expect the names of other official visitors to start leaking out but not until later today or perhaps tomorrow. Either the kids are committed to other schools and the staff is trying to keep things low-key until the latest possible date, or there may be a diamond in the rough or two the staff is trying to sneak by the competition.
One final note of importance: Coach Dooley operates much differently Kiffin did.... different but effective.
As I said at the top, it's going to be a fun 5 days. Hold on.
1/22/10:'X' Says:FEW OBSERVATIONS ON RECRUITING AND THE NEW COACH.
First, let me quickly get my parting shots in at the former regime. I’m like most, I bought in. Fun to follow their recruiting exploits but I had no interest in peaking below the surface. What happened was a body blow to the UT Program to be sure but it’s looking ten days beyond it to be a blessing. My parting shot is (I could make many knowing some of the shenanigans that were going on) it will be nice to attend a press conference where the Head Football Coach will address attendees with respect and not as “guys”, and will also be able to speak in complete sentences. Respect for our Program that has been missing is refreshing.
This also bothered me for fourteen months. During those infrequent times when one of our local media members offered up a question that pinned our former coach down he “evaded” answering the question by starting this football techno jargon rant. My favorite techno talk was his incessant references in press conferences to the “three technique”. Enough about that.
Given some of the missteps of the last week in the media with the coaching search and also in recruiting, I’m hesitant to say or provide too much information... right now.
The information provided here of course is for entertainment purposes only. I do take it seriously and out of respect for Basillio I don’t just write things to draw people to this forum. No interest on my part in trying to break information here. This information is free. If you want to read great… if the information doesn’t float your boat well that is okay too.
Now, with that said , the following is a summary how I understand recruiting is shaping leading into this next to last recruiting weekend.
First, the good news. The headlines for fourteen months have been dominated by the recruiting exploits of Eddie Gran, Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron, and Frank Wilson. Lance Thompson had a reputation as good recruiter but with change comes opportunity. I think followers are beginning to see that Thompson along with Jim Chaney and Willie Mac Garza not only are good coaches but are very good recruiters in their own right. All should be commended for holding this class together and keeping UT involved with the kids still on their recruiting board.
More favorable news. Looks like UT has survived the worst of the run of the commitments looking for other homes. UT has 16 commitments and 8 of which are already in school.. Something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Looks like 3 maybe 4 prospects have been lost for certain; however, three or four other prospects previously committed to UT (Markeith Ambles, Calvin Smith, Ahmad Dixon, and Delvin Jones) have given indications that UT has at least a punchers chance to bring them back into the fold.
For those of you bent on team recruiting rankings ESPN and Rivals have UT’s class ranked somewhere in the teens in the nation. Scout on the other hand has the UT class ranked in the mid 20s. I would expect the class ranking to improve by the time National Signing Day rolls around.
Now the not so good news. The regime changed really did a number on the offensive and defensive line recruiting boards. I wouldn’t say either board is decimated, but UT clearly faces a challenge to meet its needs in these two critical areas. The worse news is as of this writing UT doesn’t have coaches in place at either line position. You have a recruiting weekend on the horizon where you expect both offensive and defensive line prospects on campus. One would expect news on both fronts soon unless one or both of the candidates to join the new staff are still playin on Sundays ……..
More not so good news. The window of opportunity is closing. One more recruiting weekend remains after this one. Both are huge
Here is a brief summary of where things stand, in my opinion, heading into this recruiting weekend.
Quarterback. It’s looking more and more like UT may take another quarterback in this class. Coach Chaney will now have much more say so in "personnel " issues compared to his role on the previous staff. I believe outside of Nick Stephens and Tyler Bray he doesn’t have much material to work with on campus. Personally, I never understood the Matt Simms or the Nick Lamaison things but enough on that.
UT expects Nash Nance from Calhoun, Georgia on campus this weekend for an official visit. Little inside information here. Coach Chaney knows what he is doing, does not pay attention to stars, and thinks Nash Nance has the tools that fit the UT's offensive scheme. Coach Chaney has always liked Nash Nance and spent a lot of time with him this spring on a number of occasions. The coach staff is evaluating at least two other quarterbacks and one of which could visit next weekend ... depending on how the visit goes with Nance.
Running Back . Not a position of need. However, things might get interesting here. UT is recruiting Atlanta area running backs
Rajaan Benett and Rajion Neal (Mississippi State commitment). Appears now Bennett is preferred over Neal but
both prospects are definitely SEC caliber players. Rumors abound that UT may receive an official visit this weekend from a highly rated running back who just showed up on the board once the former regime left for Southern Cal. I’m not prepared to throw the name out there because I can’t confirm this information is accurate. If UT decides to take a running back in this class, it appears anyone of the two or possibly three prospects would be an excellent addition. Remember Coaches Dooley, Joseph, and Garza are well connected in Texas.
Wide Receiver. This is one position where one would expect UT to close strong. With one excellent prospect in school (Matt Milton), another committed (Justin Hunter), and a legitimate chance to finish with one or two other highly sought prospects (Markeith Ambles and Da-Rick Rogers (a weekend official visitor)), wide receiver recruiting isn’t the issue. For some reason, I have never really felt like UT was the resting place for Ambles. Maybe not a big enough stage but we’ll see.
Offensive Line. Ten days ago offensive line recruiting was of little concern to me. The only question looming was who on the board does UT take and how do they manage the offensive line numbers given their other needs. Now though, I’m a little concerned. It’s going to be hard to close with the prospects at the top of the old board like Chaz Green, Damien Robinson, and others because of the change. Again, the issue is compounded because the offensive coach position is vacant. The good news here is James Stone is a confirmed official visitor for this weekend and its possible one or both the Olive Branch offensive lineman UT has been recruiting Shon Coleman and Damien Robinson may (with emphasis on may) visit this weekend.
I’m hesitant of investing in JUCOs in general for a number of reasons but it seems Coach Dooley and staff are scouring the JUCOs for offensive line prospects. My opinion is there are a couple of in-state offensive lineman the former staff didn’t pay much attention to that may be worth gauging their interest. Again, this is my opinion solely but Cameron Clemmons has potential to be a good college lineman. Also, Tim McAdoo’s (Murfreesboro) likely destination in college is offensive line. Not my call though just concerned about taking JUCOs.
Defensive line. First, Corey Miller and Jacquez Smith are enrolled in school. UT did lose Brandon Willis to North Carolina and that was a loss. Calvin Smith, though de-committed, would be a bigger loss. UT still has a shot there. Let’s hope that JUCO defensive tackle Jonathan Brown stays committed and can make the grades. He now becomes a key cog of this class. JC Copeland, another committed defensive line prospect, appears firm but may take one more visit. All is not lost with defensive line recruiting. UT is pursuing 3 or 4 other defensive line prospects in the southeast that could show up on official visit list this weekend or next.
Linebackers. Confused here as much as I am at any position. I thought our linebackers played fairly well last year considering the circumstances with youth, injury, new scheme and so on. The top five returning linebackers all have some level of injury each is recovering from and 3 of the top 5 are seniors as well. Defensive scheme will dictates which linebacker prospects on the board UT pursues.
Given our issues at linebacker I would expect UT to sign at least one possibly two more linebackers. Corey Nelson would be a nice pickup but UT needs bigger linebackers. Glad to see UT expects to receive an official visit from Clarence Jackson from Atlanta and Glen Stanley from Arizona. With Jackson (6’2” 220 lbs), Coach Thompson has had his eye on Jackson for months. The kid has been on campus once maybe twice previously and at one point came close to committing. However, the former regime held him at arm’s length as UT pursued other linebacker prospects. Jackson then committed to and remains committed to Ole Miss. Coach Thompson has never quit recruiting Clarence Jackson.
Stanley is a physically intriguing prospect. Big kid physically a lot like Bruce Irvin. Be interesting to see how things go with Stanley who should be on campus this weekend.
At one point, I understood Tyrone Cornelius (current Miami commitment) from the Atlanta was planning to visit. This is why I hesitate to throw out new names because the entire recruiting landscape is so fluid with the new staff, open positions, and all. Cornelius is another linebacker prospect Coach Thompson has not stopped recruiting.
There are at least two linebacker prospects from this state that could play at UT. Again, not my decision, but Jon Brown from Memphis (Illinois commitment) and Avery Williamson from Milan (Kentucky commitment) can play. If nothing else, my hope is I each have their coach resend their recruiting tape to the new staff.
Defensive Backs. Beginning to think the defensive back position is just as critical as either interior line position. Consider the personnel losses: Eric Berry, Dennis Rogan, Marsalous Johnson, Brent Vinson, Mike Edwards plus who knows what happens with Janzen Jackson. The way UT is recruiting wide receivers it’s looking more like early enrollee Ted Meline and possibly current wide receiver Marsalous Teague end up at defensive back instead of wide receiver next season. Nonetheless, UT needs to close strong here. Eddrick Lofton, the kid from Texas who was committed to Oklahoma, would be a nice pickup. Hopefully, UT can get back into the Ahmad Dixon sweepstakes who would likely play early here. Don’t forget about Marques Dixon either. Marquez Dixon may be the sleeper of the class.
Couple of names here. Before the coaching changes, UT had been closing in on setting up a visit for safety prospect Desmond Brown from Cherokee, Alabama. Remember Desmond Brown? He starred at one of UT’s summer camps and at one point was close to committing. Again, another prospect held at arm’s length by the former staff while pursuing other highly rated defensive backs. Brown had an outstanding senior season, maybe even picked up another star for you star grazers, and is now committed to Clemson. With the coaching change, I don’t know where things stand with Desmond Brown. Two key members of the current staff that were on the previous staff former really like this prospect. This kid can play and is one I feel UT missed on.
Another prospect is Urell Johnson a corner back from New Orleans. Johnson is committed to Texas Tech and may likely remain at Texas Tech. However, Johnson is a prospect that both UT and the defensive back coach from Louisiana Tech now on UT’s staff have relationships with. Again, a name I have heard and with our needs may be one that shows up for a visit.
Now for the soap box. How about Tyler Robinson? Robinson could likely contribute at any one of the three positions at UT. Most know from my postings over the last twelve months, I think Tyler Robinson can play and no I’m not a member of the Robinson family. Tyler Robinson, regardless of the number of starts beside his name, can play. Kentucky isn’t the only school interested in Robinson. Remember Virginia Tech? Robinson chose Kentucky over Virginia Tech. Tech seems to have a pretty good model of what makes a good lineman.
Now my thoughts on the new football coach.
If my numbers are right, our new coach worked for Nick Saban for 7 years…. Think about that. There are a number of very good coaches that after a year cannot wait to get out of town and away from Nick Saban…. Think about this …..How many of us could work 7 hours for Nick Saban? ;
Only Head Football Coach/Athletic Director of a FBS Program in the country;
Has a law degree. Can’t remember the academic achievements of our last coach;
Moms and Dads will like this. He graduates his players to the tune of 70 plus percent. Kids that play for him get their degrees;
Anyone notice him bristling at the repeated Miami Dolphins questions during the presser? Classic Saban in my opinion.
He understands the importance of special teams play. Worked for Saban as Special Teams Coordinator
I expect an upgrade in special teams play at UT. His teams have been good in this area;
We’ll start seeing a more regionalized recruiting approach. No more of this national scope nonsense. Coach Dooley has a network Georgia; Louisiana; South Florida; and Texas. Coach Dooley also worked as Recruiting Coordinator for Saban at LSU. The two additions to the UT staff (Joseph and Russell) have solid connections in Louisiana and Texas as well.
Things are changing quickly on the recruiting landscape and it is probable by the end of the week clarity will be reached on the remaining staff positions.
More to follow.
1/18/10:'X' Says:So far, I like the way the staff is being put together. Personally, would have liked to see him retain James Cregg to coach the offensive line or go get Mitch Browning, but my guess he has his own guy in mind. The "name" out there associated with the offensive line position is the Georgia Offensive Line Coach Stacey Searels as Dooley and he worked together at LSU. However, I understand an offensive line coach currently at another SEC school has too expressed interest in the spot.
Terry Joseph, who will coach defensive backs (corners or safeties Garza will be retained and coach the other position) , like Dooley is viewed as an up and comer. Once he gets his feet on the ground, Joseph will be heavily involved in recruiting.
Eric Russell is a no nonsense highly regarded coach. Maybe not splashy but in my opinion a coaching upgrade and UT should see improvement in the special team area next season.
Really going to be interested to see how he finishes off the staff. Lots of interesting names out there....
With respect to recruiting, still too early to draw any conclusions about how the recruiting class overall weathered the the last week. Personally, I'm encouraged. Seems like UT retained a number of key recruits and has weathered the worst of it.
The next two weeks will be crazy. I'm certain we'll see new names pop up because the new group will be looking for things in prospects the other staff didn't. For that reason, I expect a few prospects on the current board to fall by the way side.
Dooley and Joseph bring a wealth of contacts from the Gulf states into Texas plus UT recruiting will become more regional in scope going forward.
I believe that the state of Georgia will be really key for UT to close out this class which is why it was key that Lance Thompson was retained.
Lastly, one thing to watch for from the new staff is for them to try and circle back to see if prospects the former staff passed on may still have interest in UT including a few in state kids.... That would be good to see.
I will have more later in the week.
1/11/10:'X' Says:Go ahead, you can admit it. You, those of you reading this, were starting to question .. to doubt where recruiting was heading? Truly, the dead period had you (and many others as well) concerned. Little if any recruiting news during the holiday. Add to the “dead period” the lingering effects of Hostess Gate, the Willis decommitment, and losing Ken Adams and Bruce Irvin, both committed prospects at one time, deciding to sign with other schools. I understand it. Publicly, it appeared the only momentum associated with UT recruiting was .. well negative..Don’t fret I’m here to help you.
What a difference a week makes, huh? Last Monday the recruiting contact period resumed. So what is the best thing to generate positive vibes again when your staff hits the road recruiting again? A commitment. If you don’t think the public commitment last Monday to UT by Marques Dixon, who is an excellent prospect by the way, was made with purpose you haven’t been paying attention. Marques Dixon’s commitment was part of a plan to get Tennessee positive momentum at the start of the January 2010 recruiting contact period.
UT capped off the week that was by receiving a public commitment Friday from safety Ahmad Dixon from Texas who will play early next season for UT. Then, Tennessee received more good news when defensive lineman Brandon Willis "re-committed" to UT during the Army All-American game on Saturday (this was one of the worst kept secrets in recent memory by the way).
Looking forward to the upcoming week with roughly 24 days from National Signing Day here are a few things that warrant your attention. My friends things are just now getting ready to get heated up.
A bit of background first. Remember Basilio first introduced you to names like Da-Rick Rogers, Jalen Fields, Kenbrell Thompkins, and quietly Marques Dixon. Over the next few weeks, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the name of a new prospect or two start being “rumored” to have interest in UT.
This is not by chance or by happenstance. Rather, it’s the result of months of not giving up on a prospect this staff believes has a chance to help UT early in their football career.
One other point. I should note the information and maybe even "misinformation" being released is tighter now than any time I can remember and I expect that that to continue. With that being said, there are a few developments that can be passed along but not a ton of what I would consider “new” news.
**UT expects up to 10 mid-term enrollees to be on campus this week unless there are administrative/academic snafus the kids have with grades, transcripts, etc. This of course is not a secret. I couldn’t confirm all mid-termers had made it to campus last evening but all should be in by today. What is interesting that at one point UT expected 13 mid-termers. I’m beginning to believe that having "only" 10 early enrollees and having those extra scholarships to work with can be viewed as nothing but a positive given the number of prospects UT seems to be in good standing with.
**I wouldn’t want to be a UT commitment that is not taking care of his academics nor would I want to be a commitment that may be publicly wavering on his commitment to UT. I have contended since late fall this staff is recruiting like they have more scholarships available than spots available if you look at their current commitment list.
**I would use the current UT commitment list as nothing more than a “go-by” as it is as fluid as it has been at any time during this recruiting year. I will never single out a prospect by name with grade issues or a commitment in jeopardy of being recruited over. However, you can check out the commitment list and figure the prospects in peril.
** It’s no secret Chaz Green is the Number 1 offensive line target on UT's board. After Chaz Green, there is quite a divergence of opinion on just who the top offensive line target or targets are versus those "perceived" by let’s say the general public. UT is in great position with Green but by no means is his recruitment over. Even with the limited spots in this recruiting class, at least 2 possibly 3 more offensive lineman will likely be signed along with Zac Fulton and Marquis Pair. For the doubters, James Stone from Nashville Maplewood is still very much a legitimate target for UT. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think John Cullen winds up at UT. Sure would have helped if he could have been a mid-termer.
**Defensive line recruiting will be fun to watch. UT has one of the best if not the best defensive line coaches in America who is also a pretty good recruiter. UT has set the bar high with respect to the remaining defensive line targets on its board. UT could take two possibly three more defensive lineman here (remember I expect that we are working with more than 5 slots in this class) if the right prospects fall their way. A couple of specific notes. Indications are UT is very much involved with Kelcy Quarles; however, start paying attention if Quarles indeed follows through and takes an official visit. Quarles has led many to believe he will be on campus sometime this month.
**UT is in play with Jeffrey Whitaker a defensive tackle from the Atlanta area as well. Watch to see if defensive end and Georgia commitment Jalen Fields doesn’t visits by the end of the month. Staff has been working on this one for months. Haven’t heard much in the media about the Fields recruitment have you?
** UT will sign at least one maybe two more defensive backs in addition to Ahmad Dixon. There is a cautious optimism but indications are UT is in good shape with a number of defensive backs. It will be interesting to see how UT manages the numbers here.
** Speaking of defensive backs. Expect defensive back prospect Eddrick Lofton from Texas to visit possibly next weekend. Lofton was once committed to Oklahoma but he and Oklahoma have parted ways. From what I was told, the divorce from Oklahoma was not academics as much as Lofton wanted to visit a school or two to make sure he was making the right decision and the Oklahoma staff didn’t want him to visit any other schools. Lofton is an intriguing prospect and reminds some of UT linebacker commitment Michael Taylor with his explosiveness and the way he attacks opposing running backs/wide receivers. . Lofton is another example of a prospect this staff targeted and though committed to another program they have never quit or given up on their recruitment of him.
** Understand as of Saturday evening at least 4 maybe 5 prospects committed to USC would be aggressively pursued by UT. The obvious ones of course are Kyle Prater the #1 wide receiver in the country and George Uko a defensive tackle prospect.
The Prater recruitment could get interesting. It is not a secret to Kyle Prater and Zac Fulton are good friends as are their families. Kyle Prater and family took an unofficial visit to UT this summer and liked UT quite a bit. Prater has always wanted to go to USC but of course that has changed now. He plans to be a mid termer or that was the original plan so I would expect a quick resolution to his recruitment. By the way, UT has really never stopped making the calls to him through the process.
**I’m beginning to believe signing a tight end that can play early is becoming a real need for this signing class. For that reason, look to UT to at least make a telephone call to USC commitment and tight end prospect Randall Telfar. If the rumors are true and Pete Carroll takes all his assistants to Seattle. all the prospects committed to USC will be starting over with new coaches, schemes, etc. you have to like UT’s chances with at least one or more of these prospects committed to USC.
** Here is what is coming up
Today (Monday) begins a Dead Period. The Dead Period last through Thursday.
During the Dead period, coaches cannot have any in-person contact with a prospect or his parents at any time. Coaches may write and telephone a prospect and/or his parents. The exception here of course is the prospects that are enrolled at midterm can have contact with coaches.
Friday, January 15th through Saturday 16th begins a “Quiet Period”. During the Quiet Period, Coaches cannot have any in-person contact with a prospect or the prospects parents.. Except for on-campus visits (OFFICIAL VISITS). Coaches and staff may not watch a prospect participate in an athletic event or visit your high school. Prospects and parents may visit a college campus during a quiet period. Coaches may write or telephone prospects and parents during this time.
Sunday January 17th through January 30th ....contact period
** UT will have a number of prospects on campus this coming weekend for official visits. Speculation is that Eddrick Lofton (mentioned above), UT commitments Markeith Ambles and Michael Taylor, target Kyle Prater, and others will visit. Again, my opinion. My objective for the upcoming weekend would be to solidify the commitments of Markeith Ambles and Michael Taylor because their individual performances in recent all star games have made both hot commodities. Official visitors won’t be firmed up until later in the week.
**How is the rest of the SEC doing? I’m not a star grazer or into team recruiting rankings....but some of you are. For those so inclined, here is where each of the other SEC is ranked by Rivals as of last evening. Florida (#1); Alabama (#3); Auburn #5); Tennessee (#6); LSU (#9); and (Georgia #10).
The rest of the SEC is not fairing so well South Carolina (#27); Ole Miss (#34 ); Miss State (#45); Kentucky (#55); Arkansas (#58); and, again pulling up the rear is Vanderbilt whose class is currently ranked 76th.
More to follow
1/5/10:'X' Says:UT picked up its 19th football commitment for the 2010 signing class on Monday. Marquez Dixon, an "athlete" from Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur, Georgia committed to Tennessee. If you read my update prior to the Chic Filet Bowl, I mentioned there were several reasons why UT was holding their “pre-dome” practices in Decatur. Dixon was one of those reasons...There may be more to follow.
First, a couple of things: Dixon as mentioned above plays at Southwest DeKalb High which is one of the very best high school football programs in the state of Georgia in one of Georgia’s higher football classifications. Also, Southwest DeKalb has a reputation of producing quality Division 1 football players. Dixon is the 6th player from their 2009 football team that is currently committed to an FBS Program.
Dixon played defensive back and wide receiver at Southwest DeKalb and will likely have the opportunity to play both at UT. He stands 5’10” 180 lbs and runs a 4.4 forty according to Rivals. In my opinion, Dixon is a key addition to this class for the following reason. Much like Michael Palardy fills a huge void in this program as a kicking specialist, Marquez Dixon’s forte is special teams… kick-off and punt returns. Dixon was named All State as a special teams player this past season and he returned multiple kick-offs and a punt return for touchdowns.
For the star-grazers, Dixon is rated as a 3-star recruit by Rivals though I put very little stock in stars beside a prospects name. I’ll take our staff evaluation every time. Recall too that Michael Taylor, a UT commitment, is rated as a 3 star linebacker prospect by Rivals and he may have been the best linebacker who competed in the Under Armour All Star game last weekend.
Dixon didn’t play high school football as a junior and so in terms of be a known commodity to the services like ESPN, Scout and Rivals, he has flown a bit under the radar which may account for his current ranking. Also, don’t think UT staff just happened to stumble Marquez Dixon while recruiting other prospects. A couple of staff members have known about Marquez Dixon since his sophomore season in high school.
Dixon had interest from Alabama and a couple of other SEC schools though no other SEC offers. He does have offers from Miami and Southern Mississippi. Miami continues to really making a push for him. He still has work to do in the classroom as does many other prospects this time of the year.
With a month to go until National Signing Day, UT has 8 to 10 spots left in this class. By my count, I have between 25 and 30 prospects on the recruiting board. Some of course have more interest in UT than others. Mark my words, things are setting up for a strong finish.
Remember also one year ago this staff always seemed to come up with a prospect or two on a weekly basis that had never been mentioned with UT until the prospect showed up on campus for their official visit. Also, UT had a couple of prospects that slipped in and out of town for their official visits without very little if any fanfare. Being honest, a couple new names associated with UT that are likely visitors even popped up last evening. I don’t want to give away too much here. Suffice it to say, I’m sure we can expect more of the same from now through National Signing Day.
1/4/10:'X' Says:Recruiting rankings really don't mean much when it comes down to it. The rankings are mostly for fan base banter, makes good content for talk shows, and is elixir for folks like me who like to monkey around with numbers and data. Sure, in the SEC, as a fan, you want your program over time to consistently meets its recruiting needs and recruit better players than your rivals that goes without saying. Consistently signing very good recruiting classes - again meeting your recruiting needs and signing good players - is a barometer of sustained program success. As I mentioned, fans love to follow recruiting and win the recruiting battles as it makes the time between the end of the football season until spring practice go much faster.
After watching the UT-Virginia Tech and the Cincinnati - Florida bowl games, I have to admit my curiosity got the best of me. I decided to look back over the last 5 years of recruiting ranking data for each of these teams to determine how each team stacked up against on another speaking from a recruiting perspective.
First, I looked at Cincinnati versus Florida. Being a master of the obvious here, one could have easily predicted the game being a mismatch. By looking at the "average recruiting rankings" from the Rivals web site from 2005 through 2009 recruiting classes for both Cincinnati and Florida here is what I found. Florida's signing classes have consistently been ranked around the top 10 nationally (average ranking 6th overall) during this period. On the other hand, you have Cincinnati. Their "average" recruiting class ranking for the same five year period was ... well 82nd .. Yes, I checked it a couple of times and 82nd in the country is correct. This tells you a little about the coaching ability of Brian Kelley and a lot about the caliber of competition Cincinnati faced week in and week out in the Big East Conference or both. Guess there was a reason why Coach Kelley skedaddled for Notre Dame instead of coaching Cincinnati v Florida in their bowl game....Wasn't sure Rivals ranked teams down to 100 spots but they do ... check for yourself .
The Virginia Tech-Tennessee comparative ranking analysis was a more interesting study... My analysis I admit is negatively skewed toward UT of course because I have followed the o fortunes and misfortunes of UT on the recruiting trail for the past 10 or 15 years. Consider that over the 5 year timeline from 2005 through 2009, UT's recruiting classes have an "average ranking" of 15th nationally while Virginia Tech's recruiting classes over the same time period have an average recruiting ranking of 23rd nationally.
Looking at recruiting rankings, one would have thought maybe the game would have been closer . However, in reality, the talent disparity between both teams, especially along the offensive and defensive fronts lines, was significant. Let’s be honest, there were talent and athletic differences between UT and Virginia Tech at other positions as well.
When you look inside the recruiting rankings, it is even more painful to the point of being downright gut wrenching. Read at your own risk. Over the five year recruiting period (2005 through 2009) , UT signed 9 prospects rated as 5-star prospects by Rivals and 44, prospects Rivals rated as 4-star prospects. Over the same period, Virginia Tech has 2!!!! That’s right 2 prospects rated as 5-star prospects by Rivals (Tyrod Taylor and Macho Harris (Harris left early for the NFL I believe after last season) and 23 prospects rated as 4-star prospects by Rivals....Can you say it with me??.... Ouch. If you draw an opinion by looking at these numbers, Virginia Tech has done more with less talented recruits (looking at the rankings mind you) than UT has over the same period of time. Guess you could conversely say looking at recruiting rankings, UT has done less with more.....
Think back, I know it’s a bit painful, and think about all the hoopla around UT landing a few of the following lineman who either didn’t make it to UT for academic reasons or some other reason, were mis-evaluated and couldn't contribute once they got here, or never hit their stride once at UT and ended up leaving the program... (Preston Bailey, Rolando Melancon, Ramone Johnson, Donald Langely, Darious Myers, Lee Smith, Darius Sawtelle, Raymond Henderson, Malcolm Rawls, Corey Hall and wait a week or two and there may be other names to add to this list). Is there any wonder UT played most of our season with two walk-ons and a redshirt freshman as starters across the offensive line? Throw in a couple of five star prospects that didn't work out like Chris Donald and Bret Vinson and well you see why UT is in the shape that it’s in talent wise right now.
And, I do not even want to start on the prospects that wanted to come to UT during this period that were "spurned" by IT for whatever reason. That is another topic for another day.
Successful football programs are built along the offensive and defensive lines . I'm not sure where Virginia Tech's offensive and defensive lineman went to high school nor do I know how many stars each of them had beside their name coming out of high school. I don’t care. All I know is half way through the first quarter, regardless of their star ratings, it was obvious there was a significant mismatch along both fronts and neither favored UT.
As I mentioned I don't follow Virginia Tech's recruiting closely. Their recruiting philosophy best I can tell is much more geographically focused than UT's. First, Virginia Tech gets most any prospect they want in Virginia especially so in the Tidewater, Hampton Roads, and Washington DC areas. Virginia Tech like every other program slips into Florida and picks up a player or two but for the most part their bread is buttered recruiting wise in the Mid- Atlantic area. UT's approach of course is a national one with emphasis in the states of Florida and Georgia for now.
A couple of more things about personnel differences from the bowl game. Was it me or do our defensive ends look small-ish when compared to those by any number of teams competing in bowl games that matter? Seems Virginia Tech picked up on this during film study and game preparation and tended to exploit this most all evening. UT will fixed this but it isn't an overnight fix.
One other concern I as a fan had about the bowl game other than the obvious dominance across the offensive and defensive lines was Virginia Tech's athletes just seemed more athletic and explosive than UT's athletes. I'm speaking about wide receivers and their punt and kickoff returners. I do believe UT has good athletes. Maybe a renewed focus and commitment to prospect evaluation and strength and conditioning program, both of which I believe had been lacking at the end under the former regime, will serve the UT athletes better well in the seasons to come.
Perspective My Friends. Rivals has the UT 2010 recruiting class currently rated as 11th best in the country (after Brandon Willis officially de-committing from UT) with approximately one month until signing day. According to Rivals, UT has 19 commitments and I believe UT could sign 9 more prospects in this class... maybe more if they have another defection or two which is possible. Talk about a divergence in recruiting rankings, while ESPN has UT with the 6th best class in the country but it doesn’t appear ESPN has updated their rankings to reflect a couple of recent de-commitments. My guess is UT will drop into the mid-teens when this happens. Scout has UT's 2010 recruiting class rated at 17th overall.
In looking at the overall rankings, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Auburn are all poised to sign classes rated in the top ten to twelve classes in the country. Really important UT finishes this next month off strong on the recruiting trail. Needs abound at most every position. I really don't put much stock on recruiting rankings or stars beside a prospects' name. This was reinforced watching the Under Armour High School All Star Game where UT commitment Michael Taylor (rated as a 3 star prospect) was one of the two or three best players on the field. I trust the prospect evaluations this staff makes over stars beside a prospect's name.
Let’s look at a few our SEC brethren that aren't in quite as good shape recruiting ranking wise as UT is on January 4th. According to Rivals, South Carolina's class is currently rated as 33rd (19 commitments); Ole Miss' class is rated 35th (16 commitments (5 of which as JUCOs or Prep school types)); Miss State's class is rated as 42nd (17 commitments); Kentucky's class is ranked 54th (24 commitments); Arkansas' class is rated 56th with 16 commitments; and, pulling up the rear is Vanderbilt whose class is ranked 71st (22 commitments).
Later... This will be a busy month
12/29/09:'X' Says:Well, so much for the recruiting "quiet" period. Like most, I try and disengage from recruiting for a couple of days around the Christmas holiday. My goal was to put away the laptop, turn the television off ESPN (I did TIVO the 3 bowl games on Saturday.. more to follow on those later), and basically just hang out walking along the beach. Much to dismay of my better half, I did not turn off the cell phone though. Because of this transgression, my personal ‘quiet” period was interrupted Saturday afternoon around 5:30. The calming sound of waves crashing against the shoreline was shattered by the ring from my cell phone. I would not have answered the call. However, I recognized the phone number as being from what I would consider a prominent citizen from the state of Tennessee. At that point, I knew something was up so I answered the phone. There was no Christmas greeting not even a hello. The first words uttered were, "Do you think we get Mack Brown or Matt Elam?" What? It was only after a few minutes from the caller “splainin” to me what I had missed did I learn was unraveling in Florida.
So, Saturday night, Urban Meyer resigns as Head Football Coach at Florida. Then, Sunday tries to put a patch on recruiting by “unresigning” . Now, it’s called a “ leave of absence”. Really?
So many questions remain unanswered. It’s an unsettling position with 6 weeks go until National Signing Day. Will he return in two months, a year, before the UT game next fall, if recruiting starts to fall off or at all? You come up with your own scenario. Do you really think he won’t have his hand in the football operation? Do you really think he won’t be directing recruiting behind the scenes? I bet you there are a number of Florida fans, a bunch of high school football players, and their parents that would like to know exactly how this is going to work too.
With all due respect to health issues, which should be taken seriously, the whole thing smells. Urban Meyer and his personal health issues have been the topic of much conversation throughout the Florida community since the SEC Championship Game. I understand from someone with fairly good access to the Florida program a number football prospects and their families heard rumors of Coach Meyer's health issues and have asked for answers. The prospects were “reassured” Coach Meyer would be the coach at Florida for the foreseeable future. These conversations took place as late as two weeks ago. In my opinion, Coach Meyer's health situation would have never been mentioned publicly until AFTER National Signing Day unless the information got into the wrong hands. My opinion is someone was going to run with the information and in an attempt to get out in front of the situation, the Florida Administration went public with the resignation. When they saw the recruiting class start to fizzle, Meyer et al went into full tilt damage control. That is my theory and I’m sticking with it.
Here is what troubles me about the "timing" of this drama playing out in Gainesville. At least 8 to 10 of Florida’s 20 commitments had planned on enrolling in school in January. The timing of this mess gives those kids and their families very little time to evaluate their options.
The one and only reason the Florida Administration came up with this “leave of absence idea” is that by midnight on Saturday evening at least one -half of their twenty commitments had either given indications they were de-committing from Florida or had given indications they were going to re-open their recruitments and start visiting other schools.
This "leave of absence" casts a bigger shadow on their program than Coach Meyer resigning does. You have to wonder if prospects and their families have lost their trust in this guy. How long is this leave of absence? AND, with Florida’s coaching staff in disarray, who is going to hire the defensive coordinator and the recruiting coordinator?
What makes this whole leave of absence idea even harder to figure out is Coach Meyer's wife was quoted on Sunday in an Orlando paper as saying something completely contrary to this whole leave of absence scenario.
One thing is for certain. Rival recruiters are circling the prey, those young men committed to and considering attending the University of Florida. The frenzy surrounding recruiting from today until national Signing Day in February can be described in one word... unprecedented.
So does any of this impact UT recruiting class? Good question. Let’s step back for a minute and look at this at three different levels.
First, when you consider the big three in the SEC East, UT is best positioned to take advantage of any recruiting fallout Florida as a result of this drama unfolding in Florida. UT has eight to ten or so spots remaining in its signing class, and Coach Kiffin has shown no scruples at all in recruiting over already committed prospects to land a higher rated prospect; UT ‘s coaching staff is more or less complete (well unofficially) and should be able to hit the ground in full stride when the recruiting contact period resumes in January; and, our primary competition in the SEC Georgia and Florida both have issues. Georgia has yet to name a defensive coordinator after being spurned by their top three choices and Georgia has very few scholarships remaining in their 2010 class. Florida as already mentioned doesn’t have a Defensive Coordinator or a Recruiting Coordinator and is trying to do damage control on a PR mess.
Listening to Coach Kiffin his criteria for this class are the following: fortify the offensive and defensive lines; recruit prospects that have speed; and, recruit great players. I’m going to provide my opinions on the impact of Coach Meyer resigning based upon the above criteria. I’m going to analyze this on three levels. 1) Uncommitted players in Florida both UT and Florida are recruiting; 2) Florida commitments that may choose to look elsewhere; and, 3) what I call ”collateral damage”.
1. The most obvious uncommitted prospect both Florida and UT are pursuing is Chaz Green an offensive line prospect from Tampa, Florida. Green is the top offensive tackle prospect in Florida, arguably one of the top three offensive tackle prospects in the United States, and at the top of UT’s recruiting board. In my opinion, this drama around Coach Meyer solidifies UT as the favorite for Chaz Green. Chaz Green would definitely help this class fortify the offensive line.
2. Darius Millines. Millines is a 5"11, 180 lb 4.4 forty "athlete" from Del Ray Beach, Florida. Millines committed to West Virginia in September but has softened his commitment in the last few weeks then re-opened his recruitment once Doc Holliday left West Virginia to take the Head Coaching position at Marshall. Tennessee, Florida, and Miami have ramped up their recruiting efforts for Millines who could help UT in a number of different capacities (wide receiver and special teams). Millines has not visited UT but may in January. He possesses the type of speed Coach Kiffin is seeking. It can’t be viewed as anything but a positive to have our wide receivers and special teams coaches in place when and if he does visit.
3. Linebacker prospect Christian Jones is a prospect, at least at this point, I don't think the coaching drama at Florida impacts UT too much. Jones is the top linebacker prospect on UT's board and I think for sometime it has been a two horse race for his services between UT and Florida State.
Prospects committed to Florida who may look at UT as an option. The makeup of Florida's 2010 recruiting class is a bit odd. Florida has twenty commitments currently. Six of the commitments are defensive backs; two other commitments are classified as 'athletes" who both project to play defensive back or maybe wide receiver plus Florida just recently offered a scholarship to another safety /defensive back; two commitments are tight ends; and, three of the commitments are projected to be wide receivers.
Of the 20 commitments, here a few that could give UT a look.
Mack Brown, Running Back from Atlanta, Georgia. Brown is THE Number 1 running back prospect on UT's Board. I can’t imagine UT recruiting Mack Brown and his family any harder than they have this fall. However, my guess is UT will ramp their efforts up again with Mack Brown. Brown will probably take a wait and see approach but it would not shock me at all to see him take a visit or two. Running back is not a position of need in this recruiting class for UT. I believe in the end Brown sticks with Florida. If UT truly want a running back in this class, there are other more realistic targets on their board.
Robert Clark, Wide Receiver/Return Specialist from West Palm Beach. 5'9" 170 lbs with 4.4 speed. When Coach Kiffin says UT needs a game changer, he was speaking of prospects like a Darius Millines (mentioned above) and Robert Clark. UT got in on him late but he does have an offer from UT. Clark was projected as a January enrollee at Florida, but with the Meyer situation look for Clark to take visits and possibly delay signing scholarship papers until National Signing Day. This is one where UT may have a chance if he visits. Have to like our chances with Kippy Brown and the rumored new Special Teams Coach.
Gerald Christian, 6'3" 230 tight end prospect from West Palm Beach (teammate of Robert Clark and Matt Elam). I understand UT really wants a big-time tight end prospect in this class. Remember going back to 2009, UT missed on tight end Orson Charles who signed with Georgia. Gerald Christian has the size, speed and athleticism that would make him a first year contributor at tight end at whatever school he chooses. If Christian decides to look around, UT might be in play for a visit. I still think this one would be difficult for UT in the end.
Matt Elam, 6'0" 205 lbs from West Palm Beach. Along with Matt Elam, Mack Brown is right at the top of Coach Kiffin’s personal recruiting list. Whether Elam plays strong safety or outside linebacker, he is likely to play early as a freshman. Elam has already visited UT (his teammates haven't). Despite Elam reaffirming his commitment to Florida even as late as a couple of weeks ago, UT has been relentless in their pursuit of Elam. Rumor is now that Elam may postpone his decision until National Signing Day. I think that situation is still fluid. In my opinion, I don't think Elam sticks with Florida. The skinny is Elam may now be favoring UT or Florida State (in no particular order). One could only think that with a brother in the NFL Elam would see the benefit of playing for 3 years for a staff with so much NFL experience as the UT staff… Stay tuned to this one.
Leon Orr, 6'4' 300 lbs defensive tackle prospect from New Port Richey, Florida. Given UT's need for defensive tackles, Orr looks to receive quite a bit of attention from UT. Recent interviews with Orr suggest he has softened on his commitment to Florida even before Meyer's announcement. I would expect UT to actively pursue. Orr isn't projected to sign until February.
Ian Silberman, 6'4" 260 lbs, Fleming Island, Florida. Silberman is an offensive line prospect right at the top of UT's offensive interior lineman board. He is an athletic prospect, could play any position along the offensive line and he too is projected to be a January enrollee. Though Silberman committed to Florida in the spring, UT has continued to pursue him. At least twice during the football season, there were fairly strong indications Silberman was traveling to Knoxville to take in a football game day. Both times it appears the Florida staff put pressure on Silberman not to make the trip to Knoxville and he didn’t. If Silberman decides to pursue other options, UT may be in a position to receive an official visit.
As mentioned, I don’t understand taking 8 or more defensive back commitments in a recruiting class.
It’s hard to argue with Meyer’s success though. With that said, it would not surprise me to see Florida defensive back commitments Cody Riggs (corner back) and Demar Dorsey (safety) give UT strong consideration.
The Riggs recruitment is interesting. Riggs, brother of former UT running back Gerald Riggs, is an athletic corner who has already visited UT. Earlier in the football season, Riggs reportedly tried to commit to Georgia where they were full at defensive back and did not have a spot for him. Then, reportedly Riggs wanted to commit to UT but UT wasn’t ready to take his commitment so he committed to Florida. It will be interesting to see if UT tries to what UT does here if anything.
Dorsey is a speedy safety who regularly mentions UT as a school who has continued to recruit even though he committed to Florida early in the process. I would expect UT to try and get Dorsey on campus for an official visit in January.
This is the most intriguing part of what may unravel with respect to Florida’s recruiting class. Here is one for instance. Take Neiron Ball a defensive end committed to Florida. Neiron Ball is projected to enroll at Florida in January. Ball also has a brother who plays football for the University of Georgia. Though UT has recruited Ball, there is a better chance Ball ends up at Georgia instead of UT... but Georgia has coaching issues of its own. Plus, Georgia has already four defensive end commitments. If Ball de-commits from Florida and commits to Georgia.... what does that do to current Georgia defensive end commitments like Jalen Fields or TJ Stripling both of whom UT wants? Stripling had already softened up his committed and is expected to visit UT in January. If Georgia were to take another defensive line commitment, Tennessee could be thrust into a better position with Stripling or possibly Fields for that matter. By the way Stripling has become a UT recruiting priority. He and high school teammate Marques Dixon, who recently received a UT offer, were scheduled to be visitors at UT’s bowl practice yesterday.
Here is another. Florida defensive back commitment Joshua Shaw, who is from Southern California and committed to Florida over Southern California. You would expect now this whole fiasco at Florida that Pete Carroll will really press Shaw to stay on the west coast. If Shaw did flip to Southern California UT could wind up receiving a commitment from highly rated defensive back Demetrius Wright. Wright has narrowed his two schools to Tennessee and Southern Cal with many thinking USC was the leader.
Southern California already has one defensive back commitment in their 2010 class and project to take one more defensive back. Shaw I understand, is ranked higher on USC's board than Wright, Shaw could take Wright's spot at USC and Wright could fall to UT. Wright is a defensive back prospect UT really covets.
Stay tuned.. More is surely to follow on this
Everything released to the public about this football team is done so with purpose. Here are two more things to ponder.
There is a specific recruiting reason UT is conducting its "pre-dome" bowl practice in Decatur, Georgia.
Is there any doubt UT wanted the information on Rich Bisaccia joining the staff placed into the public domain through credible NFL sources.. I don’t doubt it for a second
Anybody find it interesting one of the first interviews given by Urban Meyer was to Pete Thamel at the New York Times…..
Was it me or did Southern California’s football team look fairly pedestrian against Boston College. If USC plays against almost any team except a bad mid-level ACC team, they lose convincingly.
Looks like things are trending toward the defensive tackle prospect and UT commitment Brandon Willis winding up at North Carolina. Far be it for me to tell anyone where to go to school. If he prefers to play his college football for a team that can’t score a touchdown against Virginia during their homecoming game and you want to play bowl games in front of friends and family for the next four years go luck to you.
Have a great 2010. Should be fun!
12/16/09:'X' Says:'A few random notes and thoughts as we come up on the close of a NCAA recruiting contact period.
Please note: We make every attempt and effort to provide current and truthful information in this forum. I follow a phenomenon being college football recruiting which at best is inexact and truly subject to change on a moment’s notice. This information, whether you like it or not, is provided free of charge for now. While not under any pressure to sustain subscriptions or drive the masses to the site, we do have had a pretty good track record of being out in front with much of our information.
I have felt compelled to give your audience a snapshot of where recruiting is headed into the Christmas holiday. However, in being truthful, all the information provided below is not necessarily “new”. With that said, I’m not going to put recruiting information out there that I don’t feel comfortable with. Remember we follow UT recruiting here not Georgia or Auburn.
With that said, if you decide to read, you’ll find a summary as I see it …. not pieces and parts. Yes, there are few new items sprinkled in.. Some of new information will not be so obvious to you.
So with that disclaimer read at your risk…
I am a big supporter of Tennessee High School football and I love following the East/West All Star Game. My profession takes me all over the country but for the last three years I have been fortunate enough be around Knoxville where I could observe a practice or two leading up to the All Star game. This past week I was in Jefferson City on business and was fortunate enough to observe a couple of periods during one of the practice sessions. I also stayed around and took in the game this past Saturday. Just a couple of notes or observations about the game I thought readers would find interesting. For all you Clemson, Florida, Bama, or FSU readers, I’m not on anyone’s recruiting staff so no recruiting violation here. I’m nothing more than a guy with a bit of access and an opinion.
Since inception of this All Star game three seasons ago, the quality of talent of players participating in this game has gotten much better. Though a number of the higher rated prospects in the state chose not to participate in the game, there were a large number of players committed to schools and those still sorting through the process that did participate. Good competitive environment.
Just a couple more notes. Three games ago, it was obvious Randall Cobb, David Spurlock and Montori Hughes were a cut above all other athletes that participated in this game. I was convinced after watching one day of drills UT missed on their evaluations of both Spurlock and Cobb. Fortunately, UT was able to get Montori Hughes to campus and sign him to a scholarship. Cobb and Spurlock are proving to be huge misses which can be laid at the feet of the former staff.
This year. Four kids stood out. I don’t profess to be a talent evaluator but there are a couple of obvious and a couple of not so obvious prospects that deserve mention here. First the obvious ones. Tim McAdoo , a defensive lineman from Murfreesboro Oakland, has a ton of potential and can play. He may well end up as an offensive lineman in college but he looked to be the most athletic of the entire interior lineman that participated. Another kid that can play is Avery Williamson, a linebacker from Milan. He has the look and athleticism of an SEC linebacker. Both kids are Kentucky commitments.
Also, I liked the Toney kid from Alcoa more than any other running back I saw. Keon Williams from Red Bank was the most physically impressive but Toney just seemed to have another gear the other kids didn’t. It is really hard though to project how his skills would translate to SEC competition and he is not a big kid but neither is the McClester kid at Ole Miss. Unfortunately for UT, with four returning running backs there is just not room at the inn for another running back in Knoxville.
The other prospect I really liked was Tyler Williamson from Knoxville Catholic. Not sure he has the foot speed to play at the SEC level but he was always around the ball in the secondary and just seemed to have a knack for lining up right and showing up around the football.
I didn’t mention Tyler Robinson the tight end/defensive end from Alcoa. There is no need to. If you have followed any of my recruiting updates this year, you know it’s a given that I believe he is a keeper.
I can’t be critical of Coach Kiffin for not pursuing any in state prospects harder than they seem to be. This staff has been evaluating many of these kids since the spring evaluation period. Right now, I’m just not sure any of these kids figure in their plans.
Coach Kiffin has stated time and time again they are looking for great players. If you look at the UT depth chart and consider that in all likelihood UT will face attrition issues (over and above graduation) again this off season, the staff is focused on recruiting prospects , in their opinion, can come in and significant contribute immediately.
Regardless of where all these in state kids land, good luck to them.
As you can imagine, getting solid information about recruiting right now is tough to do. The wagons have been circled so to speak but not for the reasons you might think. The primary reason is all hands that are authorized to do so are actively engaged in recruiting. For the next few days, everything is about closing out this recruiting period on an upbeat note. True, they are a bit short handed but with Coach Kiffin there are no excuses.
As important as last January and February were in recruiting, this recruiting period which ends at the end of this week may be more important. Why? If all things fell right, UT could have as many as twelve to thirteen kids enroll in January which is effectively one-half of the 2010 signing class. It’s even more important when you consider that in addition to key losses to graduation and NFL early entry, each and every one of the prospects that enroll at mid-term will be expected, more so than ever, to contribute in 2010.
I expect we’ll hear today about two junior college prospects, both of which are mid-term enrollees, Ken Adams and Dequan Menzie who are considering UT. Adams is committed to UT but Auburn has made as expected a late push. UT is looking to Adams to fill a need as a tight end. Auburn is recruiting Adams to play defensive end. It’s really up to him to determine what side of the ball he wants to play. Wouldn’t be a stretch to believe he flips to Auburn. He committed to Auburn out of high school and his family wants him there. Also, consider that our Recruiting Coordinator and the staff at the junior college both Adams and Menzie attend have a “history” which may not bode well for UT as well.
Menzie is well… a mystery to me. On the verge of committing after his official visit, Menzie’s recruitment has gone dark. I understand UT may not have been ready to accept his commitment when he was ready to commit which opened the door for other SEC schools to step through. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised one way or another if he ends up at UT. I think these are two prospects where the loss of Frank Wilson to LSU may have hurt our momentum with each.
Losing both of these prospects (Adams and Menzie) would be losses no doubt but neither would I deem a blow to the recruiting class.
The most current development with UT's offensive line recruiting is that UT and Jose Jose, who had been committed to UT for months, parted ways earlier this week. It now appears Jose will wind up at the University of South Florida. To be honest, this is a case of UT "recruiting over" a committed player for a player they believe is well just a better player. Jose Jose is a good prospect but in all honesty, given his weight issues, he likely wouldn't have contributed until the 2011 season. Even with this development, there is reason to feel good about offensive line recruiting. I’m going to make the assumption that commitment Juwuan James holds firm and make it to campus at mid-term. I’m also feeling better about where UT stands with two of the biggest offensive line targets left on its recruiting board Chaz Green and John Cullen. These two prospects are certainly a contrast in the way each is handling their recruiting. Green has handled his recruitment close to the vest while Cullen will talk to most anyone who gives him a call and every story about Cullen paints a bit of a different picture about his recruitment. I think UT is in good stead with Green for no other reason than because UT’s primary competition for Green, Florida, continues to be very active in its recruiting of other offensive line prospects over and above Chaz Green. Also, UT’s depth chart at offensive line tells the story. While Florida would like to have Chaz Green, he is a priority for UT and its recruiting class and would almost certainly see immediate playing time in Knoxville. Cullen is one of the top JUCO lineman in the country. If he decides to leave the west and come east, I believe he winds up with UT.
Signing Juwuan James, Chaz Green, John Cullen, Marquis Pair and Zac Fulton meets a glaring need on the offensive line for this 2010 class. I openly wonder if UT would be inclined to take another u offensive lineman in this class. My guess is they would provide they get the right one. Losing one of the above will not kill the class. There are at least 3 to 4 other offensive line prospects UT is recruiting in case something goes south with one or more of the above prospects.
With Jose Jose no longer in the mix, UT could be looking at a junior college interior offensive lineman like David Gonzales, who is an early enrollee, as one possibility; James Stone from Nashville Maplewood still has UT somewhat in his top 5; or, Torrian Wilson from the Miami area as another possibility. Regardless of wheel they turn, you can be assured this is part of the plan
If we hold and sign the above offensive line prospects , hold and sign the wide receivers committed (Ambles, Thompkins (by the way you heard Thompkins on this site first) and Matt Milton) , and all four running backs return to the team, I believe we are headed in the right direction offensively.
Too, don’t be shocked at all if Matt Simms shows up at UT…. that is all I’m saying. A lot of smoke signals here. And, I’m not 100% certain with Tyler Bray and Matt Simms UT would be completely done with quarterback recruiting.
Also, don’t be surprised if you see UT try to land one more wide receiver prospect that can stretch the field.
I can’t wait until the spring to watch all four running backs compete for the starting position. A new running backs coach gives a new life to Tauren Poole who got lost in the shuffle this past season. I have been told by more than one person Toney Williams , outside of Montario Hardesty, is the best running back on campus. From what I saw last spring, I would have a hard time disagreeing with that statement. I do think Bryce Brown, who has unlimited potential, better come to the spring healthy and ready to compete because the others will. Coach Kiffin will also have another toy to work with this spring. Channing Fugate, a mid-term enrollee, can play H-Back, Full Back, maybe a bit of tight end. He is just another weapon that can be used in a number of different ways.
It’s not very often you say a kicking specialist is one of the signature pieces of a recruiting class. Michael Palardy from St Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida is the type of difference maker that warrants such discussion. Special teams specifically the kicking game has been a problem even an embarrassment to UT over the past few seasons. Palardy will walk on campus in June and be in the mix for all the kicking duties. He is that good. Put it like this. If he was at UT this past season, UT has at least one probably two more wins and who knows if Alabama is playing for the national championship.
I’m not too concerned about linebacker or defensive back recruiting but I’m beginning to get both worried and concerned about interior defensive line recruiting.
Let’s just be honest here.. we have two defensive tackle commitments (Broussard and Harris) where each appears to be legitimate academic issues. I have been lead to believe Jonathan Brown, though his situation is not as significant, has work to do in order to get his academics in order so he can get on campus in June. Brandon Willis, another defensive tackle commitment and a mid-term enrollee, is still taking visits. I think there it is far from certain as to whether or not Brandon Willis ends up at UT.
What that leaves you with is defensive tackle commitment Calvin Smith and JC Copeland (a defensive end who will likely move to defensive tackle).
All is not lost. UT is continuing to recruit Kelcy Quarles from Greenwood South Carolina though its likely he ends up at South Carolina; there are two maybe three SEC caliber defensive tackle prospects around the Atlanta area that have some level of interest in UT; don’t forget about the JUCO defensive tackle that visited UT during the season (David Mahoney); and, I expect you’ll see another name or two emerge as defensive tackle targets as we move closer to National Signing Day.
This staff has expended a substantial amount of manpower on a couple of prospects (Jeff Luc and Matt Elam) at linebacker and defensive back positions respectively that will likely end up at different schools. Until mid January 2010, I doubt the UT staff gives up on either one but I’m not optimistic.
So where do we turn? In terms of linebacker recruiting, there are two obvious targets in Bruce Irvin and Christian Jones. Irvin, currently committed to Arizona State, will be in town this week for an official visit. Our Recruiting Coordinator is taking this recruitment personally.
Bruce Irvin was once committed to UT. Seems his family, who is from Georgia, wants him closer to home which may in the end benefit UT. If Bruce Irvin is looking for immediate playing time, he’ll be looking in the right place this week.
Christian Jones is a top five prospect in the state of Florida. Florida State will be hard to beat but I give UT a fighting chance in this spot with Monte Kiffin and Lance Thompson. Signing both Irvin and Jones to go along with current linebacker commitment Michael Taylor (who may be the most undervalued player of this class) would more than meet our needs at linebacker.
Ralph Williams is another linebacker/defensive end prospect committed to UT. In my opinion, I just don’t see him winding up at UT for a number of reasons.
Other linebacker prospects include LaDarius Owens from Alabama who will likely visit in January though I don’t see him leaving the state of Alabama; Corey Nelson a nationally ranked linebacker prospect from Dallas, Texas. If he visits, I would like UT’s chance to land him; Prince Shembo, a Notre Dame commitment, is another linebacker prospect UT has continued to stay in contact with. Given the changes at Notre Dame, I wouldn’t be surprised to Shembo visit in January ; and Tyrone Cornelius who is currently committed to Miami. Cornelius wanted to commit to UT during the summer but UT wasn’t ready to take his commitment.
A name on the linebacker board that may end up visiting in January is Patrick Swilling, Jr. from Louisiana. Also, you may see Nick Parker from South Panola High School visit as well. Parker is one of the very best running backs in Mississippi but UT believes he projects as a linebacker in college. He likes UT and if his grades are in order I would expect him to visit. Again, these are a couple of possibilities.
In January you’ll see new names start popping up on the linebacker board. Just saying…
At defensive back, there are a lot of names flying around. Right now Ted Meline is the lone defensive back commitment but its house money on whether he ends up at wide receiver or safety at UT. Regardless, of where he plays he’ll likely be a candidate for a redshirt year. Also, he is still looking at other schools.
I thought for the longest time we would sign one corner and one safety prospect in this class but now I’m being told UT may need more.
You continue to hear current Georgia commitment Nikell Robey and UT linked together though the prospects has consistently refuted the rumor. Remember though his lead recruiter at Georgia is the now deposed Willie Martinez.
I think UT is in as good a position as it can be with California cornerback Demetrius Wright and California safety Dietrich Riley. Consider UT though is battling USC for both prospects. Immediate playing time may lead at least one of the two California kids to end up at UT.
If everything holds, UT is one track to have one of their finest recruiting hauls at defensive ends in school history. Mid –termers Jacquez Smith and Corey Miller have a chance to be impact players early. I have already mentioned JC Copeland likely slides inside to defensive tackle. One of the most intriguing prospects in the class is Delvin Jones. He is a raw, athletic off the edge rusher from Florida. Seems to be solid to UT for now. He is the type who likely needs a year or so in a collegiate strength and conditioning program before he’ll help much.
At defensive end, UT would likely take one more commitment. UT is in the final two for Corey Lemonier, a high school teammate of UT commitment Calvin Smith and I would expect UT to get an official visit from TJ Stripling who is currently committed to Georgia. Georgia fans will tell you all their commitments are solid but don’t buy it. The uncertainty with the Georgia Coaching staff and the appearance their first and second choices for defensive coordinator are off the board can only give UT, and other schools as well more opportunity with Stripling and others.
There you have it
Have a Merry “X”mas
12/7/09:'X' Says:Call me crazy but I'm not one bit worried about either coach leaving..... I think both Wilson and Gran were both contingency hires by Coach Kiffin when his Number 1 choices at each position didn't work out last year. To be honest, I'm not sure how hard we tried to keep either one on staff over the last week.
I do know and this was again confirmed to me over the weekend Coach Kiffin has been ahead of this for a couple of weeks now. What I mean is these departures were anticipated and dint surprise anyone around the program. Coach Kiffin demands a lot from staff , coaches, and players. Remember what he said, the way he runs things is not for everyone. Its a complete 180 degree difference from the way Fulmer ran things just the way it is.
I really think a year ago Billy Gonzales was at the top of the list for wide receivers coach and Brian Schneider and/or Skipper were at the top of the list for wide receivers/special teams coach.
From the early list of possible candidates to replace Coach Wilson and Coach Gran , I believe upgrades at each position will be hired. We may have to wait a couple of weeks. Only one week remains until the "dead period" sets in. I believe between now and the bowl game personal interviews will be conducted (I think one has already taken place) and their path forward will have determined.
Listen Eddie Gran has a great reputation in South Florida and has gotten Tennessee in a few doors we probably don't get into if he is not on staff. Other than Michael Palardy and Jose Jose, the other commitments from South Florida have ongoing issues that may not allow them to get into school at UT.
Coach Kiffin has made a number of trips to South Florida over the last year and has developed his own relationships with coaches and recruits in that area. Coach Orgeron has recruited South Florida. Monte Kiffin is a legend in Florida.
Also, think about this... we all wondered in 2009 how are special teams play could get much worse. Well, in 2010 one could argue UT was as bad if not worse in special teams play. Blocked kicks,opponent kickoff returns for touchdowns, pedesterian return game (Oku was not too bad). Coach Kiffin was openly critical of special teams play numerous times during the year in the press. One can only imagine what a big deal his phase of the game was behind closed doors. I believe it was a very big deal...
Also I'm hearing that Kippy Brown wants 400-500k to return to UT. I guess we'll see there. Another name to watch is.....Trooper Taylor....
12/4/09:'X' Says:I’m going to defer my weekly in depth recruiting update until the first part of next week. Right now there are so many moving parts that impact UT's recruiting, I really need a moment to digest these events to determine where the final few weeks of this 2010 recruiting cycle are going to take UT.
These moving parts I’m referring to aren’t necessarily “in-house things” though there are a couple of those brewing; rather, it is how do all these coaching changes, rumors of coaching changes, and other ongoing events impact our standing - positively or negatively - with UT’s 2010 recruiting targets.
Also, I’m trying to get a better handle on a few of the not so obvious recruiting targets UT staff have visited during the past week. I believe Lane Kiffin didn’t realize how passionately this fan base follows recruiting. Since wrapping up 2009 recruiting, Coach Kiffin has made a number of changes about the way he and staff travel and recruit. How many UT fans have had trouble like I have tracking the comings and goings of UT's airplanes? Think this just because the system is temporarily offline? I think not. This is just one example of many recruiting tactics now being used to keep the heat off some of their recruiting targets.
Here are a few items you can mull over for the next few days that I believe impact the weeks leading up to National Signing Day.
First, let's be completely honest. Florida Alumni wanted no part of UT in the Outback Bowl. There was there was a ton of back room wheeling and dealing by Gator Alumni associated with the Outback Bowl to keep UT out of the South Florida. THAT’S A FACT. Last thing, the Gators want is UT to establish a recruiting compound in Tampa for a week and a half at the end of December. FACT!
The way to follow recruiting is to try to connect dots. What I don’t do is throw out a name and tell you where an eighteen year old prospect is going to school. Anyone with computer access can do that. Plus, how do you rationalize why kids make the decisions they do? Consider that on National Signing Day last year 5 minutes before Darren Myles signed papers with UT he told his Dad he was signing with Alabama and Eddie Lacey told his mother and his High School Coach he was signing with UT and he signed with Alabama. Go figure.
There is just too much out there for me to put into proper perspective. Consider these two items. UT had a junior college offensive lineman (David Gonzales), position of need, scheduled to come in town this weekend for an official visit. Late yesterday the official visit was canceled. What does it mean? Could mean UT received positive news from one of its higher rated offensive line targets like a John Cullen or a Chaz Green for example. Or, does it mean that another offensive lineman target they have possibly rated higher than David Gonzales? Maybe say an Ian Silberman (Florida commitment) for instance has indicated he wants to come in for an official visit.
Here is another intriguing item. UT has once again ratcheted up its recruitment of highly rated defensive back Dietrich Riley from Southern California. UT pursued Dietrich Riley hard through the summer and early fall and then backed off of him when it appeared one or two other defensive backs UT had rated high on its recruiting board seemed genuinely interested in UT.
Does this mean UT believes it’s now completely out of the chase for a Matt Elam and/or Ahmad Dixon? Does it mean now UT needs more than one or two defensive backs in this class because of more attrition from its current roster? I don’t know for sure. These are the things I’m trying to run down. One little note. I would watch to see if UT gets safety prospect Demar Dorsey, a Florida commitment, on campus for an official visit between now and National Signing Day. Over the past few months, there has been significant interest expressed at different times by both UT and the prospect.
I have said this before and I will say it again. Take the information you read posted on these team internet sites with a grain of salt. Most of their writers are not terribly objective and slant the articles toward exciting their subscriber base. Tons of writer bias in many of these articles plus I believe there is a large number of prospects that like to keep things stirred up as well. I have to pay the writers on the Rivals and Scout UT sites their due. They all do a very good job providing fairly objective information and are much more consistent in doing so than their peers on the other sites.
UT is in very good shape with a number of prospects in the state of Florida. However, each and everyone will be a dogfight to snatch away from the in state schools.
UT is making significant in-roads with prospects in the Carolinas, California and Georgia (I know master of obvious here with respect to Georgia). Hope to have some of the new prospect names by the first of the week.
The coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball at Georgia, and possibly the defensive coordinator change at Florida can’t do anything but help UT with a number of prospects committed to or favoring those two schools right now. Also, I would continue to watch UT get involved with a number of prospects committed to LSU. Right now, I believe LSU is vulnerable with Larry Porter leaving for Memphis and the possible NCAA troubles directed toward at least one other assistant coach… Again, something else to watch.
With respect to UT's current commitment list, I would only pay cursory attention to it. The UT staff is recruiting as if they have more than just 5 or 6 spots left in this recruiting class. Remember who the guy is making these decisions. Does anyone really think he wouldn’t bump a current commitment for a better player? If you don’t believe UT would “recruit over” a committed player to land a better player, no need to read anymore or check back for more updates at the first of the week. In other words, just watch.
As I said, hope to have a lot more meat next week…Check back right here for more.
Until the neXxt time
11/25/09:'X' Says:Well, its nice to see the RIVALS’ national recruiting analysts are finally getting on board with what I have been telling everyone for months. UT is seriously involved in the recruitment of current Notre Dame Quarterback commitment Tommy Rees. Look for UT to be involved here until the end .... in my opinion.
It should be noted the next two to three weeks are key for UT with respect to recruiting and specifically for prospects projecting to be early enrollees (EEs) (i.e. enroll in the college of their choice January for spring semester) . By my count, UT is involved with at least four and possibly five additional prospects that are potentially EEs. I would look for these prospects to begin making their decisions in early to mid-December.
It’s really hard to get a read on just how many committed prospects are EEs. Best I can determine at least 9 and maybe up to 12 (not counting the prospects UT is still recruiting) are EEs. So, if things fell just right, you could look at close to half of their recruiting class to be on campus in January.
11/19/09:'X' Says:The fan base has seen for the better part of eleven months Coach Kiffin and staff view most everything that is UT football differently than the past regime. It’s your opinion of course whether that is good or not so good. These ‘differences” have been evident in almost every facet of the program but most encouraging to me has been the opportunistic way Coach Kiffin has attacked recruiting. The former staff did not use the last home date of the season as a huge recruiting weekend. I understand it. The opponent has been either Kentucky or Vanderbilt, given the previous SEC television contract with RAYCOM, JP or whoever UT typically played in the 12: 35 window which wasn’t conducive to prospects getting in town for the complete game day experience. Plus, the weather conditions (cold/rainy/etc) are regularly downright miserable.
Being a master of the obvious here but this staff wants to make every home football weekend a recruiting opportunity. The UT-Vanderbilt home game this upcoming weekend is no different.
While the opponents on the schedule will most assuredly will be the same going forward, the new SEC/ESPN TV contract coupled with Coach Kiffin’s notoriety presents UT the opportunity to play in these ESPN Saturday evening time slots. Prime time games on ESPN or even ESPNU provides a national viewing audience plus it gives you a chance to get out of area recruits in town late Friday or early Saturday where they can take in the game day experience.
While UT has suffered a public relations setback with these arrests/incidents over the last week, they have seemingly been able to hold serve on the recruiting trail. Recruits who this staff are developing relationships see the opportunity here… to step in and play immediately in front of a national audience week in and week out. When in recent time have you seen UT depend on so many walk-ons to play roles on offense, defense, and special teams?
So without further adieu, here is a preliminary list of official visitors. Though the numbers are small, this is a very important group of visitors. As I always say, the information for the most part publicly available through a number of outlets. No secrets or inside information about this. Of course, things change some of these kids may change plans and end up rescheduling their visit for a later date.
Two of the official visitors are teammates from Hialeah High School in Hialeah, Florida. They are offensive/ defensive lineman Calvin Smith and defensive end Corey Lemonier.
Smith stands 6’3”-4” 260 pounds and could provide depth at two different positions of need for UT. UT has five commitments (kind of) projected to play defensive tackle. Let’s be honest two maybe three of those prospects may have a tough time getting to UT. Rissean Broussard is rumored to have academic issues and may be looking at a school to closer to his home in Louisiana; Patrick Harris a JUCO defensive tackle from California does not look like he ends up at UT; and, Jonathan Brown who transferred to Junior College from Florida due to academics seems the most likely of the three to make it to UT. However, he still has academic work to do and at best he isn’t projected to be at UT until June.
Lots of question marks at a position where you have currently two true freshman returning (Walls and Hughes), a redshirt freshman who may end up on offense (Jefferies), and two incoming freshman (Willis and Copeland) projected to play defensive tackle… and that is it... Definitely a position where we are going to be are going to be deprived of any experienced depth going into 2010. Most schools have been recruiting Smith as an offensive lineman and he may very well end up on that side of the ball. UT though is recruiting Calvin Smith with the intention of giving him a shot at defensive tackle AND UT is recruiting him as hard as any school on his list. Smith has UT at the top of his list along with Illinois and Florida State.
If you have followed my recruiting updates at all, you already know how I feel about Corey Lemonier. He is a stud. Physically, Lemonier stands 6’5’ 230 pounds and runs a 4.7 40 yard dash. He is rated as the 12th best prospect in the state of Florida, an ESPN Top 100 national prospect, and rated as the 6th best weak side defensive end prospect in the country. That all sounds really nice. Here is what gets my attention. Many who follow this recruiting and make living evaluating prospects year in and year out in Florida believe Lemonier is the best defensive end prospect in the entire state.
Lemonier has his pick of virtually any school in the country to attend. Florida, Florida State, LSU, Auburn, Ohio State among other schools recruiting him. None of these schools are recruiting him any harder than UT. Anyone who has watched UT this season can see that while we have good defensive ends we need faster defensive ends that can get to the quarterback. Our three best (Walker, Williams, and Martin) are all seniors in 2010. While we have two defensive ends committed (Jacquez Smith and Corey Miller), you take Lemonier.
Through different media reports, the teammates have expressed some interest in playing together in college. As a rule, most schools typically don’t take "package deals" unless they both can play. These kids can play. If you are UT and they both want to come, you take them.
Appears that Shon Coleman an offensive lineman from Olive Branch, Mississippi will be visiting as well. Coleman is an Auburn commitment but Frank Wilson has done an excellent job of getting UT right in the thick of his recruitment. Coleman is a huge kid. He stands 6’7” weighs in the 280 to 290 range. He is a Rivals Top 100 prospect ad is rated as one of if not the top prospect in the state of Mississippi. I don’t think he is at the top of UT’s offensive line prospect board as I think prospects John Cullen and Chaz Green (along with UT commit JuWuan James) are all a notch higher on the offensive line board. I don’t believe UT is in a position where this kid could up and commit at the end of the weekend. If he happened to commit (don’t have any knowledge whether he would or not), that would not bode well for UT’s standing for Chaz Green or John Cullen in my opinion. My understanding is UT is still right in the thick of it for both Cullen and for Green.
I have heard different stories as to whether Corey Nelson will be in for an official visit. Nelson, a Texas A&M commitment, is intriguing. He is one of the top twenty high school prospects in the state of Texas at any position. He plays for one of the best high school programs in the state of Texas (Dallas Skyline). Nationally, he is a top 150 player ranked as the 11th best outside linebacker prospect. Physically, he stands 6’0”, weighs 200 to 210 pounds, and runs a 4.5 forty. Though he committed to A&M during the summer, UT has remained involved with Corey Nelson as have other schools. With many high profile defensive prospects thinking about playing on Sundays, Nelson is intrigued with the opportunity to be coached by Monte Kiffin.
If you are into watch internet video of prospects, Corey Nelson is must see video. He has the speed to be a force as an edge rusher and has the athleticism to play side line to side line which is needed to defense the spread option offense. If he gets to campus, I think UT has a legitimate chance with this prospect. His parents are very involved in his decision making process and he has said his parents have to buy in to the school of his choice. If he gets here with his parents, then in my opinion, UT is definitely in play.
Wide Receiver and UT commitment Matt Milton from Illinois is rumored to be on campus. Information is sketchy about this and I will try and confirm by Friday. Milton is one of the most underrated prospects in this signing class but one who could have an immediate impact at wide receiver next season. He is a mid termer and will have every opportunity to contribute early next season.
Ahmad Dixon may be the most anticipated unofficial visit in recent UT recruiting history. Dixon, one of the best safety prospects in the country, officially visited for the Memphis game and had a great visit. The talk from the Dixon camp was he planned to return with parents in tow for the Vanderbilt game. If he makes it to Knoxville this weekend with his parents, good news for UT. I believe it is becoming a priority to sign two safeties in this class each with the ability to play from day one. Ahmad Dixon fits that profile.
Bits and Pieces
The following illustrates just how quickly things can turn in recruiting. One month ago, all signs coming from the UT camp pointed toward JUCO Quarterback Matt Simms being offered a scholarship. Simms made a lot of sense. However, I believe UT started falling out of love with Matt Simms at about the same time the Head Coaching seat in South Bend, Indiana, started getting warmer.
Readers who have followed these reports at least since the summer know I steadfastly maintain Notre Dame QB commitment Tommy Rees has been or is near the top of Tennessee’s quarterback board since the very first day they watched him workout. Rees is a classic pro-style type quarterback. He has done nothing is temper their enthusiasm. He followed up a very good junior season with a senior season that saw him throw for more touchdowns and pass for more yards than his junior season ... in fewer games. Whether it is this year or next, all signs are pointing toward Weis being a short-timer at Notre Dame. Regardless, rumors about his status have already begun to swirl. If you are a pro style quarterback are you asking yourself if Weis is replaced, do they go for an Urban Meyer (who runs an unconventional offense), do they go for a Brian Kelly (who takes what talent he has and makes it better) or do they look at someone really out of the box like a Paul Johnson (just an example here)? What I’m trying to illustrate here is there if you are committed to Notre Dame or strongly considering them you have more questions than answers right now around the Notre-Dame coaching situation. You may want to keep your options open…
What is known is Lane Kiffin and his pro-style offense will be here for awhile. Coach Kiffin along with David Reaves and Jim Chaney have done a downright amazing job in rescuing Jonathan Crompton for quarterback purgatory. A year ago Jonathan Crompton couldn’t get out his own way. He has been transformed into a quarterback who will likely get invited to the NFL Combine and may get drafted by the NFL. I will say it… Amazing … Now for the news about Rees. Here is what has changed based on people I have spoken with. While UT has always been interested in Rees, there now appears to be definite interest from the Rees camp in UT. Don’t be surprised if any rumors or talk concerning Rees and UT get quickly rebuked by other media. They typically like to do that to my information. This is a recruitment that is not over by a long shot whether or not Weis stays or goes.
Rees' father was a football coach at UCLA for 15 or so years and had the reputation as a hot shot recruiter while on staff at UCLA. The elder Rees also spent time as a front office executive for the Cleveland Browns I believe. My point here is the Rees camp knows how to handle this kind of situation and you can be assured they will be looking at a lot of factors before a final decision is made on where Tommy Rees attends college. Sometimes silence speaks volumes.
If you want to observe a couple of recruitments that have a bunch of moving parts look south to Florida. Three of the top prospects on UT’s remaining defensive board are Jeff Luc (linebacker); Matt Elam (safety); and, Christian Jones (outside linebacker). I believe right now UT is in the top two for each of these prospects and may actually be the “leader” for one if not two of these prospects.
Virtually everything to do with each of these recruitments is fluid expect for one thing…. Monte Kiffin isn’t leaving UT anytime soon.
Let’s discuss linebacker prospects Luc and Jones for a second. You think UT has playing time to sell to linebacker prospect? Let’s look at just how dire UT linebacker depth is moving into next year. Forgive me if I overlook someone. It’s late and I’m on a plane. Rico McCoy graduates; two of your best returning linebackers (Reveiz and Frazier) were lost during the season to major knee injuries. You really don’t know what you will get out of either one until next summer into August; Herman Lathers has battled concussions and other medical conditions since he has been on campus. If he has major surgery this offseason which is very possible, you wonder how much you can expect from him next season; and, LeMarcus Thompson has been battling chronic nerve problems in his neck/shoulder... never a good thing for a linebacker. Tons of uncertainty here. So what else do you have? You have two true freshmen Greg King and Nigel Mitchell-Thornton who have played in reserve roles this season... King more so than Mitchell-Thornton. Plus, you have two other linebacker prospects that are redshirting Jerod Askew and Robert Nelson. It is clearly a position where true freshman like Luc and Jones can play a prominent role early.
Now for Elam. Though Matt Elam is “committed” to Florida, the way Florida continues to recruit defensive back prospects makes you wonder how solid they believe that commitment is. Elam too is still taking visits. Matt Elam is not the caliber prospect you recruit over. He has the ability, barring injury, to start from Day One at whatever school he chooses. He isn’t talking to media much at all and when he does you really begin to wonder if he is certain yet where he wants to play college football.
With each of these prospects, the next two to three weeks are key for UT. I say that because most teams will be wrapping up their regular seasons and many programs will begin to make firing and hiring coaching decisions and thus the domino effect begins. Things to stay tuned for include: does Urban Meyer stay or go?; what Head Coaching job(s) does Charlie Strong pursue and he will pursue them; does Bobby Bowden stay or go; who takes over as defensive coordinator at Florida State and at Florida if Charlie Strong decides to leave; and, does Jeff Luc and family get back to UT for an unofficial visit?
Luc and Elam are mid-term enrollees so the drama with their recruitments will only detract me from my regular life and others that follow this daily until early January. Jones looks like his recruitment will go to February.
In closing, a tip of the hat to UT commitments Jacquez Smith, Corey Miller, and Brandon Willis. These young men have traveled on their own dimes to UT for most every October/November home date and help recruit official visitors just as hard as any member of our staff. Yes, Willis took a visit to North Carolina last weekend and may take another but he is firm to UT by all accounts.
More to follow.
11/12/09:'X' Says:I have a few thoughts on the commitment from JaWuan James. James committed to UT on Tuesday evening the culmination of a fierce recruiting battle between UT and Georgia.
First, let me hit on a couple of things. For those in the UT fan base who have been starved for a commitment or commitments from “high profile” offensive line prospects, Jurua James are the prospect of your dreams. He is a 4-star prospect, a top ten prospect in the state of Georgia, and the 26th best offensive line prospect in the country according to Rivals. A great pick up.
Second, UT needs more offensive line prospects the caliber of James to hop on board. I believe shortly more like James will follow.
Lastly, this one should feel good to you. JuWuan James was highly coveted by the bad guys (Florida, Georgia and Alabama).
JuWuan James will have every opportunity to be a part of the starting line by the time the 2010 season rolls around. UT loses four offensive line starters after this season plus a reserve who contributes significantly. Throughout this season, I don’t recall any of the second line offensive lineman with the exception of possibly Jerrod Shaw taking a step forward.
James has the physical skills to contribute next season. He has the size (6’6” (290 and 310 pounds depending on who you believe); he is more athletic than physical at this point; and, he appears to be on track enroll at UT in January. This gives James a headstart on offensive lineman signed that will enroll in June, gives him 9 months of strength/conditioning training with Aaron Ausmus, and, he'll be able to participate in spring practice.
Now a couple of thoughts. For those that follow my reports/updates/whatever you refer to these as, you recall that I consistently say if this staff identifies a prospect they believe has elite talent …. to a staff member…… they have a very difficult time accepting “no”. There is not a better example than the JuWuan James recruitment.
Rissean Broussard is no longer a commitment.
John Brown may not make it either, and I really don’t think Patrick Harris does either.
All three are the above are defensive tackles.
We lose Williams and brown... all we have behind them are Walls and Hughes.
The others behind Walls and Hughes will never be able to help.
We redshirted Arthur Jefferies a defensive tackle but he likely will end up as an offensive lineman.
Jacquez Smith, Corey Miller, Brandon Willis, and JC Copeland are all keepers but they are high schoolers and will need seasoning.
Willis and Copeland are defensive tackles.
Smith and Miller are defensive ends.
We lose Walker, Martin, and Williams (defensive ends) after the 2010 season.
Almost forgot about Delvin Jones….He is another defensive end prospect from Florida .... His recruitment has been a bit odd...More on that perhaps in coming weeks….
My guess is he ends up at defensive end but he may get a shot at tight end if he makes it here.
You can’t expect all these kids to work out... Have to keep recruiting the defensive lineman.
And to close if the Sports Animal on-air staff is reading this. Andrew Hendrix is not coming here. Thought you’d like to know. Please quit saying that.
Basilio likes to dismiss mid-term enrollees as guys who don’t get to enjoy their final semester of high school. He says it’s a sign of the serious times in sports. This may or may not be so. But get this, Tony. The way Urban Meyer got Florida kick started a few years ago was getting 8 to 10 kids/year in at mid -term when of course Fulmer was asleep at the….
Check back and I’ll have more for you as news hits.
Buckle up. It’s getting fun….
11/11/09:'X' Says:Regarding one of your listeners question concerning quarterback recruiting.
Since April, I have maintained Jessie Scroggins would not end up attending UT . As of today, there is nothing substantive that makes me think that will change. I'm not saying he signs with USC, but I do believe he stays on the west coast.
In my opinion based upon what I have been told, I don't believe we offer Matt Simms a scholarship either. The recruitment of Matt Simms , as with everything in recruiting, is fluid and could certainly change. Though I just don't see us going in that direction. Every day that passes makes me think if they decide to pursue another quarterback , which is an interesting question all to itself, they'll target a high school prospect.
With Navy taking out Notre Dame, the rumors are already circulating that a head coaching change at Notre Dame is inevitable. Listen, Notre Dame hasn't stopped anyone this year and they still have Stanford, who rung up 51 on 8th ranked Oregon Saturday, Connecticut, who scored 40 plus points on Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, who sports a record of 8 and 1, remaining on their schedule. Add this to the comments coming out from the Navy Coach and Notre Dame players about their game plan against Navy or lack thereof, these Charlie rumors will only get juicier.
Its not much of a secret the UT staff has high school quarterback and current Notre Dame commitment Tommy Rees at the top of their board along with Tyler Bray. Would anyone be surprised if the contact with Tommy Rees doesn't pick up in the next few days/weeks? Tommy Rees' father has a professional football background so he knows all too well what is going on with the Notre Dame coaching situation.
On a side note, not saying this will happen, but I do know UT has current Notre Dame defensive end commitment Chris Martin really high on its defensive line board. You just wonder for no other reason than how poorly Notre Dame has performed on defense this season if UT doesn't ramp up its efforts to get this prospect on campus . This is another prospect that even while committed to another Notre Dame has said publicly UT has continued to recruit him very hard.
Hate to be looking ahead because the Ole Miss game is huge on so many fronts but the Vanderbilt game weekend is shaping up to be a really BIG recruiting weekend.
More to follow on this......
Check Back to Tonybasilio.com and I will as well.
11/5/09:'X' Says:1. There will be a different rumor pop up everyday regarding UT and it’s recruiting from her eto signing day. These rumors will be in every public forum to recruitniks like you and me … Some rumors will be positive or some will be negative. Take it for what it is …. just rumor. UT’s recruiting both short and long term is trending in a positive manner. UT is in great shape with “numbers” of good players. Let things play out and relax.
2. Not every prospect that visits UT either officially or unofficially will end up attending UT. The other schools UT is competing against for players also have excellent programs and many of those schools have very storied traditions. Plus, as Coach Kiffin says, the way they do things at UT now isn’t for every prospect.
3. Get ready for the rumors of Orgeron, Gran, and Thompson leaving to pick up. Anything the competition can do to derail UT’s recruiting is fair game. CERTAINLY THINGS COULD CHANGE BUT I EXPECT ALL TO BE ON THE UT STAFF THIS TIME NEXT YEAR
4. We haven’t even reached what I consider the silly season in recruiting and recruiting has already reached a frenetic pace. Silly season starts about the last week or two of the regular season and lasts through National Signing Day. “Silly season” is the time when the coaching rumors, coaching changes, and recruiting rumor mill really kicks in.
5. There is no such thing as a silent commitment. UT has had plenty of silent commitments in past years. The problem is these “silent commitments” are stars and playing prominent roles with other schools in the SEC and the ACC.
6. UT is “passing” on a number of good players that want to come here in order to focus on elite level players.
7. Still anticipate “turnover” in our commitment list for a number of reasons.
8. Other schools continue to recruit many of our commitments hard. It works both ways. Tennessee isn’t backing off players they like committed to other schools (just look southward to Georgia and beyond).
9. Really interesting and logical to be honest that UT is concentrating such a significant amount of its recruiting effort in Georgia and Florida . For the most part, the Atlanta metropolitan area and most parts of Florida were not part of the recruiting plan in the last few years.
10. Add the Georgia Tech Recruiting Coordinator to the list of Recruiting Coordinators placing an extra order for Headache Powders. UT is now “kicking the tires” with a small number of prospects committed to Georgia Tech.
11. The win against South Carolina will pay significant dividends in recruiting in the Palmetto state. The state of South Carolina has as much high level Division 1 talent in 2011 and 2012 as at any time in recent memory.
12. Quietly, David Reaves is becoming one of the most valued recruiters on the staff. His work (recruiting and coaching)is not publicized but he is an integral part of this staff. Lets don’t underestimate the work he has done with Jonathan Crompton either.
13. We should all remember there is still roughly one-third of a football season still to be played. The way many teams perform from here to the end of their respective seasons will certainly have a major impact on recruiting.
14. Now that UT is “hot” again on the recruiting trail I don’t hear as much moaning about the lack of signing in state prospects.
15. While UT is are far from being finished with its 2010 recruiting, they are much further ahead than anticipated back when the staff was assembled in January. Finishing off the 2010 class strong is the priority but you can be assured the 2011 and 2012 recruiting plan is engaged.
At the end of the day, UT will meet its needs with respect to signing offensive lineman with this recruiting class. We have three offensive lineman committed and I understand at least one of those “commitments” is looking at other schools. I suspect UT will sign at least two more offensive line prospects if not three more. In no particular order, the top three prospects on their board are John Cullen (JUCO); Chaz Green (Tampa, Florida); AND Juwan James (Suwannee, Georgia). We’ll know what James is going to do before Thanksgiving in my opinion. I get the sense the recruitment of Juwan James is a dead heat right now between UT and Georgia. While its early in the week, there is some talk that James may be back at UT this weekend unofficially. Good news if indeed true. Cullen and Green don’t seem to be in any particular hurry to make their decisions known and there is nothing wrong with that.
The next tier of offensive line prospects on UT’s board includes two prospects from Olive Branch, Mississippi (Damien Robinson and Shon Coleman (an Auburn commitment). UT is in good standing with Robinson and the recruitment of Coleman seems to be picking up steam. Also, be assured there is another tier of offensive line prospects being recruited to a lesser extent by UT. If things go south with a number of the prospects above, UT has a backup plan.
I still contend that you shouldn’t be surprised if UT winds up signing an athletic high school tight end/defensive lineman type (an Aaron Douglas type if you will) who they project could slide in to an interior line position.
In my opinion, the most interesting position to watch with respect to UT’s recruiting from here to the finish line is that of the safety position. My guess is Eric Berry opts to leave early and enter the NFL draft. I believe this staff is focused on signing a high profile (high school) safety prospect ala Janzen Jackson. One who could step in and start immediately next season. There are four prospects I believe the staff has focused in on based on what I have been told. They are Matt Elam (Florida commitment); Alec Ogletree (Georgia commitment); Ahmad Dixon (Baylor commitment but fairly open); and, Keenan Allan (uncommitted but strongly favoring Alabama). All these kids are elite level prospects and each has the potential to play immediately in college.
Just a quick thought on each of the safety prospects. Even though Elam continues to publicly say he is 100% to Florida, UT has not backed off. The bad news for Florida he is taking their calls and listening to our coaches. This can’t be good news for Florida and I don’t completely think this one is completely over.
Keenan Allan will be an interesting recruitment to follow. I would expect him to visit UT at some point. Alabama is the leader with Oregon a close second but UT has made up ground here. I will digress here for a moment, two of Allen’s teammates cornerback James Scales and defensive end/linebacker Chris McCain are committed to Oregon. McCain has been evaluated by UT and has (or had) some level of interest in UT before committing to Oregon. McCain himself is a very good talent picking Oregon over LSU. Now back to Allan, he could step on campus and play here next August. I would expect Allan to visit UT before all is said and done.
Ahmad Dixon is scheduled to be at UT this weekend for an official visit. He originally committed to Texas, then changed his commitment to Baylor, and has again he has opened up his recruitment. Seems like there is one like this in every recruiting class. Regardless, Dixon is a very good talent. Considering visiting Alabama as well.
Ogletree, a Georgia commitment, has said UT is recruiting him harder than any school even though he publicly remains steadfast in his commitment to Georgia. No secret the Georgia defense and the status of their defensive status is completely up in the air. Georgia still has to play Auburn and Georgia Tech two teams with very potent and unique offensive schemes. The way I see this is it just can’t be very good news for Georgia and its defensive side of the ball commitments any way you slice it.
Memphis Game Visitors
Again, with the visitor list, I always like to make full disclosure. Most of this information below is available in a number of different forums, is subject to change and almost inevitably will before Saturday afternoon.
Right now, there are three prospects that will be one campus as official visitors and a host of prospects will be attending the game as unofficial visitors.
One of the biggest both literally and figuratively visitors this weekend is Kelcy Quarles, a defensive tackle prospect from Greenwood, South Carolina. Quarles is not just any defensive prospect. He is and may be the top defensive tackle prospect in the country. If you have been reading my reports since the Orange and White Game this spring, I have consistently said, even though the prospect is committed to South Carolina, UT would battle South Carolina to the end for Kelcy Quarles. I still believe this to be the case. I also believe last weekend , the game against South Carolina, was telling in the recruitment of this prospect. Even though he is still committed to South Carolina, I will believe he winds up at South Carolina when his signed National Letter of Intent ends up in South Carolina’s recruiting office the first Wednesday in February. If his father accompanies him on the visit, which right now I believe to be the plan, it is a very good sign for UT. Quarles is visiting UT this weekend as an unofficial visitor.
The official visitors are as follows:
Marques Pair, 6’5” 260 lbs from Sumter, South Carolina. Verbally committed to UT in the summer. Pair is a prospect who attended UT’s summer offensive lineman camp and impressed everyone with his performance. He is a bit of a project and will probably need a redshirt to work on adding weight and strength. In state schools, South Carolina and Clemson, are trying to make inroads with the prospect. So far, he remains committed to UT.
Corey Nelson, 6’0” 210 LBS, Dallas, Texas. Corey Nelson, one of the top linebacker prospects in the state of Texas, has been committed to Texas A&M since the summer. However, UT has been “on” this prospect since the early spring. I think the exposure both the SEC (ESPN/SEC Network package) has provided, the national coverage the UT program has received of late, and the opportunity to play under Monte Kiffin is intriguing to a prospect like Nelson. He also plans to visit Oklahoma. He is a very prospect at a position of the need for UT.
Ahmad Dixon, 6”0 190” Waco, Texas. Dixon, who is mentioned above, is also scheduled to make an official visit for the Memphis game. As mentioned, he was committed to Texas then changed his commitment to Baylor but is now looking at other schools. If you are in to watching video of prospects, I would recommend checking out this prospects video. I think both UT and the prospect are enamored with one another right now.
There are other prospects “rumored” to be coming to campus in an unofficial or official visit capacity but this is all I can confirm right now.
I also expect a number of prospects who are committed to UT to also be at the game.
More to follow here: I expect possibly up to five official visitors but for most plans aren’t finalized yet.
Check back for more. I will have more for you later in the week or as it comes to me.
Peace and enjoy the game.
10/30/09:'X' Says:It's a Tonybasilio.com 'X'-Clusive. Here's 'X' with some serious inside recruiting stuff. Enjoy this free of charge. Please no cutting and pasting. Send our link and we keep it free.
In terms of the recruiting weekend, this weekend….. it is shaping up to be one not seen around the UT Football Program in recent times. I really hesitate to provide a list of prospects scheduled to be on campus for a given weekend because when you are dealing with kids and families , mostly out of state, and still involved in their high school football seasons, so many things can change plans.
Another reason is by the time you read this the names may likely change. Check this example. Early in the week, I understood we would have at least two cornerback prospects visiting this weekend. We do of course. However, I understood the two prospects visiting would likely be Victor Hampton and Christian Bryant…. Fast forward until the end of the week, two cornerback prospects visiting but neither are named Hampton or Bryant.
Also, consider UT is involved with many high profile prospects that may be “committed” to another school or per media reports strongly leaning to another schools. To allow these prospects to focus on school and their high school football teams, many don’t want their intentions known until as late as they can in the week as practical to keep them out of the line of fire from rival recruiters and the Internet guys.
So here is a list of prospects tentatively scheduled to be in town for official visits. Nothing of course is official until they show up on campus.
Hope you find this worth reading.
This weekend’s visitors are:
Christian Jones. In my opinion, of the uncommitted prospects visiting this weekend, he may be the highest profile of them all. 6’4 220 lbs from Winter Haven, Florida. In a state loaded with prospects, Christian Jones may be the best outside linebacker prospect in Florida. ESPN has Christian Jones ranked as the #2 Outside Linebacker prospect in the country. He comes from great bloodlines. His Dad, Willie played at Florida State from 1975 through 1978 and was a second round pick by the Oakland He played three years for the Raiders. His father accompanied him to Notre Dame last weekend and I expect him to be in Knoxville this weekend.
Many have thought Christian Jones was a slam dunk to attend Florida State. With everything going on with the FSU Program now, I’m not so sure. Here is what I believe. I do not believe it is mere coincidence that UT commit Corey Miller from Brynes High School is in for an official visit the same weekend that Christian Jones is in town. What is the link? Corey Miller’s father too was a defensive lineman in the National Football League for approximately ten years. These fathers know what it takes in terms of training, work, discipline and coaching to prepare for the next level. If this prospect leaves the state of Florida, I would like UT as much as any school (Notre Dame, USC are in the mix with the Florida schools).
Chris Dunkley. Dunkley is arguably one of if not the best wide receiver prospect in Florida. He is on the smallish side (5’10” 175 lbs). Dunkley is a former teammate of Nu’Keese Richardson and he too is being recruited by Eddie Gran. Every major program in the Southeast wants this kid. Many believe, including some close to the program, Dunkley will end up at Florida or Tennessee. Long way till Signing Day though.
Ken Adams. In my previous report, I mentioned Ken Adams was a prospect this staff really liked. To recap, out of high school, Ken Adams was a fairly under the radar prospect from Enterprise, Alabama. He committed to Auburn out of high school but didn’t qualify academically. He ended up at Copiah Community College in Mississippi where he has grown a couple of inches and added 20 pounds of muscle. He is now a bonafide SEC caliber lineman (6’4-6’5 ish 250 lbs). Don’t forget we have a number of staff members (Gran, Wilson, Orgeron) that came from other staffs who know and have previously evaluated this prospect. UT likes him more as a tight end than a defensive lineman I understand and that is how he is being recruited. Note to our offensive coordinator, good luck wrestling him away from Coach Orgeron if he signs with UT.
Demar Dorsey. Dorsey is arguably one of top safety prospects in Florida and the nation for that matter. Dorsey is an athlete who could project to play a number of positions in college. Dorsey has been committed to Florida for a year but he has ran hot and cold with his allegiance to Florida during that period. He is now taking official visits (Alabama and maybe West Virginia). I have been told since the spring to watch UT with this prospect all through the recruiting process. Dorsey attends high school in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Eddie Gran has been recruiting him for some time. Tennessee staff loves “Florida Fast” kids.
Terrence Mitchell. Mitchell is a cornerback from Hillsborough High School, Florida. He maybe be the top cornerback prospect in Florida and he is top 5/top 10 cornerback prospect nationally. This is one where Monte Kiffin’s stature in the Tampa area could really pay dividends for UT. Though many have thought he would probably end up at a Florida school, he has been consistent over time in mentioning UT as a school he is interested in. UT has quietly moved toward the top of this prospect’s list.
Deqaun Menzie, a cornerback prospect from Copiah Community College in Mississippi (teammate of the above-mentioned Ken Adams). Athleticism and aggressiveness are the words on this prospect. Two reasons he is being considered. One, more than a couple of staff members evaluated him while he was star at Carver High School, Georgia. Two, he is a prospect they believe could challenge for immediate playing time when he steps on campus. Most every school in the SEC is after this prospect.
CJ Mosely. A linebacker prospect from Theodore, Alabama. Mosely was just named to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound prospect plans to announce his college choice at the game. Long thought to be headed to Alabama or Auburn. It’s a very positive sign for UT to get him to campus for an unofficial visit. We have quietly been making progress with this prospect since the summer.
At least three current UT commitments will be on campus for official visits. Teammates and defensive linemen Corey Miller and Brandon Willis from Brynes, South Carolina will be in town. These two are part of the cornerstone of this recruiting class. Both were on campus this summer for lineman camp. I saw both in person competing against their peers. Not so sure they weren’t the best two defensive line prospects at that camp on that day.
Ted Meline. Meline is An intriguing prospect. He is tall, lean, athletic and speedy (4.3/4.4 forty) prospect from South Florida. He is a very raw prospect and has been somewhat an under the radar prospect because of transferring from one high school to another, injuries and so on. This staff loves this prospect. He could just as easily end up as a defensive back and a wide receiver.
By my count, UT could have 6 to 8 of the top 100/150 high school prospects in the country on campus this weekend provided all show up that say they are visiting.
I am fairly convinced though we’ll see a surprise prospect or two show up this weekend to take in the game most aren’t expecting. Mack Brown (Florida commitment) has been mentioned as well TJ Stripling ( Georgia commitment) as possibilities.
If Jeff Luc and/or Demetrius Wright don’t show up this weekend, it is not a bad sign at all. Luc is winding down his high school season as I believe Wright is too. Logistical issues may be tough for each to overcome this weekend but both are strongly interested in UT
Im intrigued about all the recruiting activity at cornerback. Didn’t necessarily think this was a position of need a few weeks ago though we continue to be mentioned with a number of highly rated cornerback prospects. Seems UT is in great position with a couple at least.
How they manage cornerback recruiting will be interesting. This makes me think a cornerback or two on the current roster may move to another position next season or something…
Conspicuous by their absence from the visit list for the South Carolina game are offensive lineman. I believe this is by design. They have others wanting to visit but I believe UT feels very good about it chances with all three of the offensive lineman in for the Georgia. If by some chance UT landed all three (which is not out of the realm of possibility) they are done offensive line recruiting.
Anyone catch my recent post and discussion about offensive line prospect TJ Leifheit and UT? Have two words for you. Giovanni Bernard
We are 12/13 weeks away from signing day, for the Recruiting Coordinators at Georgia and Florida, National Signing Day can’t get here fast enough. I'm not going to say all but many of the prospects committed to each of those schools are being courted by UT. If you read Scout or Rivals sites you see the names, I have mentioned many of the names to you in previous reports…. Stay tuned. Usually in recruiting, where there is smoke there is fire.
Peace & Enjoy the weekend.
10/21/09:'X' Says:Don’t look now, but we are only approximately 14 weeks away from National Signing Day 2010 (NSD 2010). Sounds like an eternity. In some ways it is an eternity, as so much can happen over the next few weeks to impact recruiting both positively and negatively. For instance, coaching changes, rumors of coaching changes, on-field performance, players declaring for the NFL draft, players leaving programs, and so on. Yet, in other ways, NSD 2010 is right around the corner. With more and more high profile prospects opting to make their college choices earlier, enroll at mid-term, and get a head start on their collegiate careers, in-season recruiting is probably more fierce today than it has ever been. In January 2010, UT could have as many as eight to ten of its commitments enroll in school.
So much can and will happen between late October and the first Wednesday in February. From years of following recruiting, I believe I can honestly say the next fourteen weeks leading up to NSD 2010 are not going to be for the faint of heart. From UT’s vantage point, there will be so many twists and turns, high and lows, wins and losses, rumors, and more rumors primarily because its recruiting but also because UT has put itself in great position with so many high profile players. My advice is either don’t pay attention to any of it or go all in…. I choose to go all in.
I have a couple of general observations about recruiting before I attempt to summarize position by position where UT stands as of late October.
The hay is not in the barn yet. UT is off to a good start with right around 19 to 20 commitments. Still, there is a lot of recruiting to do and many battles still to be waged;
This staff believes they are still behind in terms of recruiting. Remember the fully assembled staff has only been together for 10 months;
This staff is recruiting like they have more than seven or eight spots left in the 2010 signing class;
The difference between a “really good” and a “potentially great” recruiting class will hinge on whether UT can turn a couple of high profile prospects they are right in the thick of it for to UT;
There is so much information and misinformation out there and yes there are active campaigns of misinformation being floated by friends and by foe related to recruiting. I have learned even the “good guys” float misinformation from time to time.
Again, before I get started. I continue to refer the recruitment of offensive line prospect TJ Leifheit from North Carolina to show the metal of this recruiting staff. TJ Leifheit is a nationally regarded offensive line prospect, a midterm enrollee, and a prospect who had his choice to play for most any program in the country. My contacts say they have been led to believe he wanted to commit to UT; however, UT kept him at “arms length” while they continued to evaluate his game film and how he stacked up to other offensive line prospects UT is recruiting… We’ll never know the story for certain. However, why would UT keep a highly regarded offensive line prospect, a position of need for sure, at arm’s length? What this tells me is based upon their evaluations they decided to pass on one highly regarded offensive line prospect ready to pull the trigger and roll the dice and pursue prospects they have rated higher on their recruiting board. Difference in my opinion between a good class and a great class will be summed up on whether they can land a couple of the kids they have rated higher than TJ Leifheit.
With the tradition of UT, facilities, pedigree of this staff, and the confidence these staff members have in their recruiting prowess, they are setting their sights on elite prospects. Right now, you can find a similar type situation to the alleged one with TJ Leifheit at virtually every position across their board.
Here is my update. A few new names but not a ton of new names. A few things to watch over the next couple of weeks. I don’t expect a rash of commitments anytime soon. Most of the targets are elite level prospects being recruited by programs all over the country. Virtually all our targets are out of state prospects and I would expect, even if any one or more of these prospects decide they want to attend UT, they let things play out for awhile to avoid instate pressure from rival school coaches/supporters.
Quarterback. I think its Tyler Bray and a Junior College (JUCO) Quarterback. The JUCO Quarterback who I believe is the leader in the clubhouse is Matt Simms from El Camino Community College. Many who follow recruiting closer than I believe Cameron Newton from Blinn College in Texas, the other JUCO Quarterback UT is evaluating, possesses more athleticism and talent than Matt Simms. However, this staff may view Matt Simms as the better quarterback. Simms possesses certain intangibles and game management skills this staff is looking for in a quarterback and I believe he is the JUCO of choice. This may be the one position where we could see a commitment by the end of October or early November.
For those who still hold out some hope that Jessie Scroggins ends up at UT, I believe that ship has sailed. None of my sources believe Jessie Scoggins factors into the QB situation at UT. To be truthful, he isn’t even the highest ranked high school QB on their board. Tyler Bray is by far is the #1 choice. If UT were to decide to pursue another high school quarterback, Tommy Rees from Forest Grove Illinois would be the first choice.
Running Back. Lots of running back prospects mentioned right now with UT. What I understand is UT would love to have a running back in this class but they will not sign a running back unless they believe the prospect is one who could come in and compete for playing time next season. I think Michael Dyer from Little Rock Arkansas is the #1 target. However, the recruitment of Mack Brown from Martin Luther King High School in Atlanta has really picked up over the last few weeks. Brown, who is currently committed to Florida, is a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com and ranked as the 56th overall player in the country.
For all of Urban Meyer’s recruiting victories in his time with Florida, he has never been able to lock down a top running back. There have been rumors of Mack Brown visiting UT unofficially but a visit hasn’t materialized yet. UT will not let off the gas in their pursuit of Mack Brown. Right now, I think its Dyer and Brown and all running back prospects are second tier type prospects.
Another running back name being floated out there is Nick Parker from South Panola High School in Mississippi. It is true UT is involved with Nick Parker but I’m not certain UT projects him as a running back in college. He is a big, athletic prospect (6’2” 210 lbs) who could wind up on the other side of the football in college. I don’t see anything happening with Nick Parker until closer to NSD.
Offensive Line. Unless you have been under a rock, you know UT has put on the full court press for Juwan James the highly ranked offensive line prospect from North Gwinnett High School. No need to bore you with those details. This one is down to UT or Georgia. I believe UT is the slight leader at this juncture and that is really about the best you can hope for with a highly coveted out of state prospect like James.
I maintain UT is also in better than is being advertised shape with Chaz Green the offensive line prospect from Tampa, Florida who visited UT for the Georgia game. I have been consistent since early spring that even though Chaz Green’s parents graduated from UT he was bound for Florida or Florida State. He may well end up signing with either school. However, Florida State is in complete disarray right now. Consider the following issues working against Florida with Chaz Green. Florida signed five offensive lineman in last year, they have no senior offensive linemen on the squad, and they already have one offensive lineman committed to their 2010 class. Chaz Green is the type of elite level offensive line prospect that will have the opportunity to compete for playing time when he walks on campus next June. Looking at depth charts, he has a much better opportunity for that at UT and I’m certain that is being sold to him.
Other names to watch if UT strikes out with one or both of these prospects are two offensive lineman from Olive Branch Mississippi (Damien Robinson and Shun Coleman) bear watching. Coleman is an Auburn commitment but is looking around. Robinson is a highly rated lineman that all you hear about him is UT is at the top of his list. I don’t think you’ll hear much with either until things run their course with James and Green.
Also, UT leads for John Cullen, the junior college lineman from California, and is right in the thick of it for James Stone from Nashville Maplewood.
Wide Receiver. UT has two wide receiver prospects committed now - Matt Milton and Markeith Ambles. Both are highly rated prospects. I also believe current commitment DeMarco Cobbs will likely get an opportunity at wide receiver when he gets to campus but he could end up on defensive before all is said and done. Ted Meline is a UT commitment who plays wide receiver but I think he is ticketed for the defensive backfield if he gets here. As with running backs, I understand they would like sign one more elite level wide receiver prospect. UT has quite a pool of wide receiver prospects they continue to pursue. Let’s start with Chris Dunkley arguably one of the top wide receiver prospects in Florida. Many believe UT will be in it until NSD with Chris Dunkley; Blake Simms, an Alabama commitment from Gainesville, Georgia, who continues to mentioned with UT; Shakim Phillips, a Boston College commitment, but a wide receiver prospect UT has really improved its stock with of late; and, another in the long line of talented wide receiver prospects in Florida named Kody Williams from Niceville, Florida.
One to watch is current Georgia commitment, Wide Receiver Da-Rick Rogers from Calhoun, Georgia. Rated as the #6 best wide receiver prospect in the country, I know UT has been pursuing this prospect for some time now. Da-Rick Rogers is the wide receiver prospect we would take a commitment from and be done with wide receiver recruiting.
In terms of where I would expect there to be more “action” over the next few weeks, the defensive side of the ball is where I would expect things to happen.
Defensive Ends. Two very high profile prospects to continue to watch with UT are committed to other schools right now. Chris Martin, currently committed to Notre Dame, and TJ Stripling, who is committed to Georgia. First, if UT doesn’t sign another defensive end in the class, they have still had an excellent 2010 recruiting haul at defensive end.
However, Martin and Stripling are the caliber of prospect you find a place for in your recruiting class. Even though both have been committed to other schools from quite some time UT has continued to recruit each… hard.
I’m more intrigued with Stripling to be honest. Stripling is tall, lean, with a long wing span (6’5” 210 lbs). He has experience as an outside linebacker and could play as a hybrid rush end, but he seems to be best suited in the long term for the defensive end position. He camped at UT this summer and was one of the best defensive line prospects in attendance. I understand UT is likely to get TJ Stripling on campus for a visit which if indeed accurate is significant.
Another name somewhat connected to UT that is flying under the radar is Ken Adams. Adams was a raw defensive end/tight end/athlete from Enterprise , Alabama who was recruited a couple of years ago out of high school by most SEC schools and ended up signing with Auburn. He wasn’t admitted to school and ended up attending a junior college in Mississippi. A year and half later, he has grown two inches, added 20 to 25 pounds of muscle, and turned himself into a SEC caliber good defensive end/tight end prospect. He may likely end up at Auburn but UT has gotten involved with him because of Frank Wilson and Coach Orgeron.
Defensive Tackle. I believe of either academic and/or injury concerns with a couple of our current commitments (nothing solid or confirmed here just reading between the lines) UT will like to sign one to two more defensive tackles in this class. In my opinion, they would prefer one junior college defensive tackle and one defensive tackle from the high school ranks. In terms of JUCO defensive tackles, Maurice Hayes, who has visited UT officially, and David Martinez, who visited for weekend of the Ohio University game, are very much in play with UT.
In terms of high school prospects, even though you don’t hear much about his recruitment right now, I maintain UT will battle South Carolina in the end for Kelcy Quarles from Greenwood, South Carolina. There are two defensive tackles from Georgia UT is involved with - Jeffrey Whitaker and Michael Thornton. I would expect both to be on campus either for official or unofficial visits between now and NSD. Whitaker is intriguing. This is the reason you have to let the recruiting cycle play out. Three months ago, I gave UT no shot with Jeffrey Whitaker. Lance Thompson and Ed Orgeron have continued to develop a relationship with this prospect. Maybe still chasing Auburn a little here but I do give UT a punchers chance. I keep hearing Thornton’s name with UT but I don’t believe he is at the top of our list right now.
Linebackers. This is probably one of the most intriguing positions to watch UT recruit in recent memory. Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron have set their sights high and well they should. UT has good players at the linebacker position but not game changers. With at least a couple of UT’s current linebacker commitments looking around, I anticipate a flurry recruiting action at this position. Everyone has heard the name Jeff Luc who appears to have developed a cult following among the UT fan base. I believe he is at the top or close to it of the linebacker board. Rumors are that UT is right at the top of his list as well. Everything I have heard from very good sources seems to suggest this as well. I wouldn’t get giddy yet. There is still a long way to go in the recruitment of this prospect who will still be a tough pull away from the Florida schools.
Couple of others to keep an eye on are LaDarius Owens a 6’2” 225 lb prospect from Jess Lanier High School, Alabama. He is a bit of a tweener outside linebacker/defensive end, but he has a long wingspan/frame, is well-built and put-together for a high school senior. Alabama schools will be tough to beat especially Auburn but he has recently been on campus for an unofficial visit and is expected back for an official visit this winter. I wouldn’t completely count UT out here…..
Another linebacker prospect to watch is Christian Jones 6’4” 225 lbs from the Winter Park area of Florida. UT has been involved for quite awhile and has improved its standing with Jones in the last few weeks. This is a recruitment that will likely go until late January but I think UT is in the middle of it. Monte Kiffin doesn’t go personally evaluate prospects unless he believes they can be special players. He made to personal visit to this prospects’ high school last week. Again, this is a relatively new name on the board but one I would definitely keep an eye on.
Another interesting prospect is Victor Beasley a 6’4” 210 lb athlete type prospect from Adairsville, Georgia. He is a wide receiver/defensive end/linebacker type prospect UT is recruiting as defensive end/linebacker type. He is committed to Clemson for now. UT has really made a push for him as of late and he is tentatively scheduled to visit for the South Carolina game in two weeks.
Defensive Back /Safety.
At Safety, I believe the two at the top of their list are Matt Elam and Dietrich Riley. In my opinion, Head Coach Kiffin has put the recruitment of Matt Elam at the very top of his entire recruiting board… again that is my opinion. He is a five star player and arguably the best high school prospect in the state of Florida. My guess is Matt Elam could step in and start at UT and most every other SEC school next September. Elam is a Florida commitment who recently officially visited UT. He says for now he is staying with his commitment to Florida but this one is far, far from over. He is a tough pull out of Florida but Coach Kiffin and Coach Gran continue to be aggressive in their pursuit of Matt Elam. I have fairly decent sources on this one so I feel confident saying this one, while not over, will be tough.
Dietrich Riley is a safety from LaCanada, California. It has been long thought that UT has been leading for Dietrich Riley.
I’m not so sure about that as I think Southern California may be the team to beat. He has been on campus both during the summer and for an official visit earlier this season. Notre Dame is also involved with this prospect but I think it’s a UT/Southern Cal battle.
The South Carolina weekend is key to see if Demetrius Wright is back in town for an unofficial visit. Wright is a 6’1” 190 cornerback from Corona, California. He is a tough, aggressive corner that could arguably come in and compete for playing time very early next season. He too has offers from most every major program in the country. He was on hand for an official visit in September. The talk is he plans to travel back to UT with his parents for the South Carolina weekend at his own expense. Demetrius Wright is right at the top of their corner back board. He may be the one of the two cornerbacks they would take a commitment from immediately. Again, I think Southern Cal is UT’s primary competition for Demetrius Wright.
I still believe UT remains in the thick of a recruiting battle for cornerback Cody Riggs from St Aquinas High School in Florida. Riggs is a little undersized but he is quick-footed corner with very good man-to-man coverage skills. He plays bigger than he is. UT has made up a tremendous amount of ground with Cody Riggs since the summer. At different times, Florida and Georgia were thought to be his leader. Now I believe it’s a Tennessee or Florida battle. If Demetrius Wright were commit to UT in the next few weeks (not certain its likely but could happen) , then UT would be hard pressed to take another cornerback in this signing class.
That’s all I have now. Exciting time both on and off the field for UT fans.
You’ll get it as I get time.
Enjoy ‘Bama week.
10/13/09:'X' Says:'Recruiting wise UT had a very good weekend. They made a very good impression on all three of the official visitors that were in town. Can't really say a lot here. Again, all three prospects can play for anyone in the country. Getting any one of the three to UT will be a dogfight but UT will be right in the thick of it for each prospect 'till signing day.
Just a question here, do you think any of the current Georgia commitments received a call or two from UT staff since the game ended Saturday afternoon? Just saying…
Something that should not get lost in all the talk about the official visitors is arguably the #1 quarterback prospect in the country next year Christian LeMay from North Carolina was on hand as an unofficial visitor. I saw the three official visitors but I did not Christian LeMay but I heard he was in town.
Also, one of UT’s offensive line targets TJ Leifheit from North Carolina - who had been in town for an official visit a few weeks ago an then for an unofficial visit (family flew in for the Ohio game actually) – verbally committed to North Carolina over the weekend. Vol fan, don’t sweat it. This kid really liked UT. However, I believe UT has other offensive line prospects rated higher on their board right now than TJ. So they are willing to roll the dice in pursuit of the higher rated prospects instead of “settling” for a prospect they had rated maybe a notch lower than say all three of the prospects in over the weekend.
RECRUITING GOING FORWARD
Stay tuned because I’m working on a list of a few of the JUCO kids UT will be evaluating this week. Check back in a couple of days and I will try and get that to you.
10/8/09:'X' Says:'As of right now, UT has three (3) official visitors coming in for the UT-Georgia game this weekend.
To recap, the three official visitors are: Juwan James (6’6” 285 lbs) from North Gwinnett Suwannee, Georgia;
Chaz Green, (6’6” 280 lbs) from Tampa Catholic HS, Tampa, Florida; and, John Cullen, (6’6” 280 lbs) from Fullerton Community College, California.
Anyone beginning to see a theme here? All three of these prospects are offensive lineman. What I have been told is all three of these offensive line prospects are right at the top of UT’s offensive line board.
UT is being extremely very selective in their recruitment of offensive lineman even to the extent of holding a couple of offensive line prospects, who I believe are ready to commit, at bay for the time being. At least two reasons why they are doing this. First, if you recall in “Meat Market” according to Coach O offensive line prospects are the hardest to evaluate/project and the success rate is about 50% (meaning one of every two offensive lineman you sign will end up playing contributing for you). So, I believe, they are being true to their board meaning these three prospects are right at the e top of their board. Second, these three prospects are the ones that if any of them commit/sign with UT will have a chance to contribute sooner than later.
UT is certainly in a dogfight for each of these prospects with other schools. With James, it’s probably UT or Georgia and you should note the kid has been at Georgia for the past two weekends so this will be his third straight weekend to see Georgia in action.
With Green, its UT or Florida. I called this one to Florida months ago. However, as more time goes by I’m beginning to like UT’s chances better. Doesn’t help that both his parents graduated from UT-Knoxville.
With Cullen, its Auburn, Utah and UT. It was once thought Cullen was a mid-term enrollee, I believe now he has decided to remain in junior college until the spring and enroll at the college of his choice in the summer.
All three are tough gets for UT but again these are the types of prospects you get a fair share of and you have to roll the dice on even at the expense of losing a second tier prospect while you wait.
There will be a number of unofficial visitors but since it’s an early start probably not as many will make it in as you would expect for such a big game.
Next week during the bye week UT is going to be hitting the junior college circuit hard. We all are aware UT will have staff to see/evaluate JUCO Quarterback prospects Cameron Newton and Matt Simms but UT will also be scouring junior colleges for offensive/defensive lineman and wide receivers. There is a wide receiver at El Camino Junior College who Matt Simms throws to (Kembrell Thompkins) that bears watching. He has a UT offer though the Florida schools may be tough to beat (has also has a brother at the U).
I would also expect UT to visit with former commitment now de-commitment Bruce Irvin at Mt. San Antonio Community College.
On the wide receivers, UT is far from done recruiting wide receivers whether it is junior college or high school prospects I still expect UT to be active here.
10/6/09:'X' Says:'I do not profess to be a coach. I try and stay to recruiting which I do know a little about though I’m sure some don’t think I know much about recruiting either.
With that said, here are a few of my random thoughts after thinking about the past weekend.
1. Eric Berry had a sub-par game uncharacteristic for him. First, he misjudged an easy interception on a poor throw by Auburn’s Quarterback and he missed two or three really key tackles. These things happen but all of his errors were at key points during the game that helped Auburn sustain drives.
2. We have the best set of running backs in the SEC. I don't care what anyone says. Montario Hardesty is playing on sheer guts and heart. Bryce Brown should not be playing as his hip injury is more serious than what the public has been lead to believe. I think it will be next year before or until he is completely healthy before we see what a special player he will be.
3. Little surprised this foolishness exhibited by Brandon Warren is tolerated. We are half way through the season, he still seems like this kid still has problems lining up properly, and it everyone else’s fault but his own.
4. I told you Saturday morning St Thomas Aquinas and Brynes High Schools had more explosive and better wide receivers than UT does right now (absent UT's true freshman). After watching St Thomas Aquinas and Brynes play Friday night and UT Saturday night what say you? I stand by my statement.
5. I’m a little surprised our special teams have regressed in the last 3 weeks. If this doesn’t get shored up this week, Georgia beats us easily.
6. Our defense played about as well as one could expect given the ineptitude of the offense, the short fields our offense and special teams gave Auburn, and our defensive limitations. The bad news is our defense got exposed on the edges (containment issues) and our lack of depth and inexperience really showed up. Monte Kiffin kept us in the game despite all the injuries, the fatigue that had set in, and the limited or lack of depth at most every position. I’m anxious to see what he can do once he gets a two deep full of SEC caliber players.
7. Thought our linebackers had an off night. They lost contain and/or took bad pursuit angles many times. I did think Savion Frazier played about as well as one could expect in place of Nick Reveiz.
8. After watching us play for 5 weeks, I don’t see how even the most ardent Fulmer supporter can honestly think that Coach Fulmer's efforts on the recruiting trail had really fallen off in the last three to four years. Coach Kiffin and his staff don’t have much to work with. I’m not even sure where our roster would rank in terms of talent when compared to Conference USA or Big East programs. Suitors of Coach Fulmer should and will take a look at what a mess he left behind.
9. There is a percentage of our fan base that doesn’t have the stomach for what is going to happen for the remainder of this year and next. It will definitely get better but it is going to take more time
Peace and be patient
'One of the best football games of the weekend maybe take place on tonight when Brynes High School plays St. Thomas Aquinas High School. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU (not certain of time) and matches arguably the top two high school teams in the country.
The game definitely has a UT flavor. Brynes has two players currently committed to UT (defensive linemen Corey Miller and Brandon Willis (both excellent prospects)) , a number of other kids headed for Division 1 football programs, and at least three other prospects UT has some level of interest in (Torrian Richardson, Jazz King, and Marcus Lattimore).
St. Thomas Aquinas has one player committed to UT (kicking specialist Michael Palardy) and almost too many to mention other prospects UT is heavily recruiting (defensive backs Cody Riggs, LeMarcus Joyner, Keion Payne; running back Giovanni Bernard; lineman Brandon Linder; and, quarterback Turner Baty). Wouldn’t surprise me if I missed one or two others because St Thomas Aquinas is loaded.
And Tony, I heard your ideological rant Wednesday on recruiting and programs “pulling” scholarship offers from prospect order to offer that scholarship or spot to a higher rated prospect. Well, that does happen and it happens frequently. I’m afraid we may see this occurring more often during this upcoming recruiting season especially with respect to SEC schools. Now I’m going to be the first one to tell you why the SEC adopted this new rule to “cap” the number of prospects any school can sign at 28… In my opinion the cap is putting SEC member schools at a disadvantage against other conferences who don’t have league imposed ceilings on signees in a given class.
I do believe though there is a bit of “wiggle room” in the number of prospects that may be signed depending on how of your signees you can “back count” against last years’ numbers but to be honest this is a foggy area for me.
Here is what you’ll see I’m afraid. I hope I make myself clear because this is confusing to be sure. With the exception of the limited pool of prospects on schedule to graduate early from high school and enroll in the college of their choice in January, most prospects graduate from high school in the traditional manner (May/June of their senior year). Through their senior, academic year, many of these prospects still have a considerable amount of academic work to do. Academic work includes a combination of taking/passing certain core courses required for college bound students, taking and making qualifying scores of college entrance examinations (ACT/SAT for example), and improving overall grade point averages.
As part of its ongoing evaluation of committed players and prospects, UT, as well as other schools of course, is continuously evaluating and monitoring progress of commitments and prospects being recruited. Sometimes the academic evaluations are as crucial as any other part of the evaluation process.
In certain cases, a school may take an early commitment from a prospect, which has academic work to do, with the understanding between prospect and school, that certain academic achievements must be attained during their senior year. UT does this and other schools do as well.
In years past when there were no caps on the number of prospects an SEC school could sign, you would see an SEC school regularly (maybe two to three or so per year) signing prospects considered maybe a long shot to gain admission to your school and get cleared through the NCAA Clearinghouse. If the prospect was unable to gain admission, schools could “place” these prospects at a prep school or a junior college while they get their academics in order.
With this new “capping” of signees the SEC schools have adopted, I’m afraid you’ll see more schools cutting loose committed prospects they don’t feel that can make it (academically) into school in favor of other prospects that may not have quite the academic issues facing them because of this signing limitation. I still feel like with prospects that have “special skills” schools will still opt to roll the dice instead of giving up on the prospect.
I also believe you’ll start seeing this sooner in the recruiting process than later. In fact, I’m fairly certain this is already going on.
In UT’s case, you really can’t blame them if they do this with a prospect or two. It is important UT get their full allotment of 25 prospects in school in 2010 (not speaking of signees that can be back counted here) because of all the depth and talent deprivation issues they face.
I think these divorces between prospect and schools will be subtle because schools don’t want to provide ammunition to rival recruiters… For example, a prospect maybe encouraged to visit other schools, may not be recruited quite as hard as previously recruited, lag time between phone calls /receiving correspondence, and so on, but it will happen.
Basilio, you are such an idealist….'
9/30/09:'X' Says:Here is an early week look on official visitors for the Auburn game. This could change and probably will before the weekend meaning more prospects could get added to the official visitor list and some of the kids below could decide to reschedule.
By the way, all are very good prospects
Dietrich Riley, strong safety/running back prospect from LaCanada , California
Jeff Luc, linebacker from Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Corey Lemonier, Defensive end from Hialeah, Florida
Mike Dyer running back from Little Rock Arkansas and his teammate Dakota Moseley offensive/defensive lineman
Also I expect a number of our current committed prospects to be back on campus for unofficial visits and I'm trying to track down whether a couple of kids interested in UT maybe on hand unofficially
Again, will have more later in the week.
9/24/09:'X' Says:Its September 24th …. Roughly one-third of the way through the football season and four months away from National Signing Day. On September 24th UT is sitting on twenty-one (21) commitments for its 2010 recruiting class. Let’s think about that for a second. 21 commitments on September 24th. What does having 21 commitments right now do for UT? First, and this is important, UT anticipates a fairly high number of these committed players, and maybe another one possibly two of the prospects they are still recruiting and hope to sign, to enroll in January of 2010 for the spring semester.
Having this many commitments and a large number of committed players projected to enroll in school at mid-term allows you to focus your recruiting efforts on a smaller pool of elite athletes to finish off your class that, if you are able to land a couple of these prospects, could accelerate getting your program back to the upper level of the SEC in terms of talent.
Also, and the importance of this too cannot be underestimated, is it allows more time and resources to be focused on 2011 recruiting and beyond. The bad news for UT is you have limited scholarships available, a really high number of prospects interested in your program, and you have to make certain each and every one of the final signees fits academically and athletically with the program you are trying to build.
If recruiting class rankings and such things float your boat, I’m not into those but that is just me, UT’s class right now is ranked in the top 5 in the country depending on whether you are a purveyor of Rivals or Scout’s recruiting services.
Instead of rankings, I prefer to look at whether we have addressed our needs instead of counting stars or comparing “ours to theirs”. In my opinion with this 2010 recruiting class, UT is not quite there yet.
One of the great mysteries associated with 2010 recruiting is just exactly how many scholarships UT has left. Let me go on record as saying I have talked with people who should know and well the best I can tell you is I get a little bit different story every time “numbers and spots ” are discussed. Here are a few things I am sure of regarding completion of the 2010 recruiting class.
Two if not three of the remaining scholarships are reserved for offensive lineman;
The remaining scholarships beyond those are for “difference makers” (refer here to Bryce Brown and Janzen Jackson) regardless of position.
While the party line is they are not motivated by stars or by recruiting class rankings, finishing strong would give UT a chance of having the #1 recruiting class in America (and they know that and that is part of what they are selling to prospects still on their board);
I have said this before and I will say it again. If this staff believes you are a difference maker, it doesn’t matter whether you are committed to another school or not, this staff will pursue you until you are sign, sealed, and delivered to another school. ; And,
There is still a lot of football to be played. Again, this cannot be underestimated. UT has a number of remaining games that will be aired on CBS and ESPN where most of the country (prospects/families et al) will be to watch a program that we all believe will continue to improve as the season wears on.
This staff inherited a roster with mid-level SEC talent (sans Mr. Berry) and 11 off that roster were run off for various reasons. UT is trying to build depth and upgrade its talent at the same time (i.e. Playing catch up to the top tier programs in this conference who restock their rosters year after year). When you are playing catch up, you must land prospects (that is plural folks) you believe can be coached and developed into great players. UT has commitments right now from players they believe will become great players before they depart UT. However, UT needs to land at least one or two or more of this group of prospects I would characterize as “difference makers”.
I don’t know that I would give UT any better than a 50% chance of signing any of these prospects. Remember though 3 or 4 months ago I didn’t give UT any chance of even getting involved with any these prospects … and now that has changed.
Also and this is very important point to remember and should give you promise, at this time last year Bryce Brown was committed to Miami; Janzen Jackson was committed to LSU; and, Marsalous Teague and Nu’Keese Richardson were committed to Florida….. UT was able to lure each of these prospects away from other schools without any on the field product to sell and now that has changed.
This is my list prospects that all in their own right are elite level prospects. I wouldn’t pay much attention to what is written about these kids by Internet sites/reporters or what you see on message boards about these kids. I would just let things play out and see how UT manages their remaining spots.
Keenan Allan, 6’2 185 lbs North Guilford High School, Greensboro, North Carolina (Safety) . I will steal a line from ESPN about Keenan Allan, “This guy is a really good football player”. That pretty much sums it up. Thought for the longest time to be headed to Alabama, UT has made headway with this prospect and may end getting him on campus in the near future. He is ranked as the #8 best athletes in the country by ESPN and it is really hard to imagine 7 prospects in the country better. UT is recruiting him as free safety/strong safety. Barring injury, he is good enough to play immediately regardless of where he goes to college. Would likely contribute early to special teams as well (punt and kickoff returns).
Darius White, 6’3” 195 lbs, Dunbar High School, Fort Worth, Texas (Wide Receiver). Probably the premier player in the state of Texas that remains uncommitted. This is a kid the University of Texas wants in a big way as well as every other school in the Big 12 along with the SEC and PAC 10. I can only imagine what our staff thinks when watching video of this prospect. He has the whole package size, leaping ability, vertical speed, explosiveness and the ability to run after the catch. With all due respect to current players, UT doesn’t have a player on campus at the wide receiver position that displays the type of size and athleticism this prospect possesses. This is one who would play quickly at UT or at any school he chooses.
My opinion of course means nothing in the scheme of things but, on the offense side of the ball, Darius White is at the top of my list. The important thing now is for UT to get this kid on campus for an official visit.
Kyle Prater, 6'6" , 200 lbs from Proviso West High School, Hillside, Illinois (Wide Receiver). Another of the top wide receiver prospects in the country. Committed to Southern California (USC) earlier this month and now says his commitment to USC is “soft” whatever that means. I can tell you UT been relentless in its pursuit of this prospect. He is not what you would consider a burner in terms of his straight-line speed but his size and wing span are perfect for what UT is trying to build in its vertical passing game. He has already been on campus for an unofficial visit and he and his family had a great visit. It would not surprise me if Kyle Prater ends up back on campus for an official visit later this fall or closer to national signing day. I maintain Kyle Prater’s recruitment still has a long way to go before it is finished.
Matt Elam, 6”0” 205 lbs, Dwyer High School, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (Linebacker). Matt Elam is ranked as the #1 “athlete” in the state of Florida for 2010. He is currently committed to Florida though I think before all is said and done UT will be in the picture to some extent. Nonetheless, this one will be a fun one to watch. While UT has been on the outside looking in recruiting this prospect, it is my belief UT has improved its standing with Matt Elam over the past few months and especially over the past weekend. He is a great athlete and one of the more dynamic prospects in this class. Did I mention he was explosive? … (Go watch his tape). He is an accomplished running back in high school but in college he’ll likely play linebacker. There are already rumors out there that this kid is beginning to look around to make sure Florida is the best fit for him. Again, UT is aggressively recruiting him, it doesn’t hurt that we already have five (5) committed prospects from the state of Florida in this class, and Eddie Gran is leading his recruitment.
Kelcy Quarles, 6’4” 260 lbs from Greenwood High School, Greenwood, South Carolina (Defensive Tackle). UT remains very active recruiting interior defensive line prospects which makes me speculate there may be an injury and/or academic issues going on with one of our current defensive line commitments. Just speculating here nothing more ….. But again UT has not let off the gas at all in its pursuit of interior defensive line prospects. Kelcy Quarles is one of the top five defensive tackle prospects in America. He is committed to South Carolina… Kind of… He committed to South Carolina this spring then took and unofficial visit to UT for the Orange and White Game and almost changes his commitment to UT. He has family ties to South Carolina and these ties may win out in the end. UT has been vigilante in their recruitment of Kelcy Quarles. I would expect him to be at UT either unofficially or officially or both between now and signing day.
Morgan Moses, 6’7” 330 lbs, Fork Union Military Academy, Virginia (Offensive Line). The Fulmer Gang will say Morgan Moses would be enrolled now at UT if the former regime would have remained intact. While the new staff did recruit him, he ultimately signed with Virginia. Honest truth to all is that Morgan Moses was always destined for junior college or prep school in order to get his grades/test scores in order. Most Prep School Head Football Coaches make every attempt to steer their players back to the school that placed them at the given prep school. However, the Virginia football program is a complete wreck and current Head Coach Al Groh and his staff are likely gone after their season ends. UT has obviously seized this opportunity and appears to have made headway and may now be the leader for Morgan Moses.
Coming out of high school, many recruiting services had Morgan Moses rated as the top high school offensive line prospects in the country. I said earlier UT will probably take 2 maybe 3 more lineman in this class. I think UT is in good shape with offensive line prospects Juwann James, James Stone, Damien Robinson and maybe to a bit lesser extent TJ Leifheit. But, Morgan Moses is a very talented offensive line prospect. If his grades are in order, Morgan Moses would be a tough one to pass on. It will be interesting to see how offensive line recruiting plays itself out.
Jeff Luc, 6’0” 238 lbs, Treasure Coast High School, Port St. Lucie, Florida (Linebacker). Was there any doubt Jeff Luc would be on this list? Jeff Luc is becoming a legend among YouTube viewers and many Tennessee faithful have him at the very top of their wish lists. Talk about making up ground. A few months ago I never thought Jeff Luc would give Tennessee a look and if I recall our staff got in to campus this summer for camp. Up until this past weekend, I still maintained that Jeff Luc stays in Florida to play college football. This past weekend changed the recruiting dynamic with Jeff Luc. Let’s just say that Monte Kiffin has achieved legendary status in Florida even before Saturday and the opportunity to be coached by Monte Kiffin carries a ton of weight with many prospects in Florida.
I believe he is planning an official visit to UT in the near future. I think UT’s primary competition for Jeff Luc is Florida State not Florida. Again, this is another prospect that would compete for a starting position/significant playing time at the start of the 2010 football season.
Demar Dorsey, 6’1” 180 lbs, Boyd Anderson High School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dorsey is and has been committed to Florida since early spring. However, he has gone from being firmly committed t o Florida to wavering a bit back to being firmly committed. Fairly typical of many high school prospects. UT (Eddie Gran) has maintained contact with Dorsey and is continues to recruit him. Free safety looks to be his best position in college but he could also play strong safety. There is not much to say about him that his tape doesn’t say. The best trait for a defensive back after flexible hips is whether the position is instinctive to them. From watching Demar Dorsey’s video you can see he is a very instinctive football player. We’ll see what happens with UT and Demar Dorsey over the next few months leading up to national signing day.
A couple of general recruiting observations by position.
Quarterback. Quarterback recruiting becomes more intriguing every week. Certainly, UT satisfied a huge need in this recruiting class in landing a commitment from Tyler Bray. The question is not whether UT takes another quarterback in its 2010 class but whether there a quarterback prospect available that can make a difference in the 2010 season. The only one on the radar right now is Cameron Newton from Blinn College a junior college in Schulenburg, Texas. We all know about Cameron Newton. Highly decorated high school star in Georgia, signs to play with Florida, gets in trouble and leaves Florida, and lands at Blinn College to try and get his academics and his football career back on track.
I know as fact UT has been involved with Cameron Newton since late April/early May. Though a scholarship offer has never been extended, UT has maintained contact with and continued to monitor his play this season. Is Cameron Newton mature enough and physically far enough along to compete for the starting quarterback position at UT next season OR does this staff enter next season with a true freshman, a junior college transfer, and a career back up who could not beat out one of the least efficient quarterbacks in the SEC this season as its quarterback options?
Running Back. In my last update, I mentioned it was likely UT would sign one running back in 2010… if the running back was an elite prospect. UT hosted Giovanni Bernard on an official visit for the UCLA game and has been trying to get Mack Brown, a running back from the Atlanta area, on campus for an unofficial visit. Brown is a Florida commitment and if he watched the way the Florida staff has managed or mismanaged the use of the only traditional running back has on campus so far this season you wonder why he wouldn’t be evaluating his options.
Regardless of the apparent interest in Brown, the running back I continually hear mentioned is Michael Dyer from Little Rock, Arkansas. I believe he is at the top of Tennessee’s running back list. I know they would like to get him on campus for one of the upcoming games with SEC opponents Georgia or Auburn. He is an elite running back prospect and one who would certainly compete for playing time next year. This bears watching over the next few weeks.
9/16/09:'X' Says:'DeMarco Cobbs. The #1 prospect in the state of Oklahoma and a top 150 prospect in the country. He plays quarterback on his high school team who runs the spread option. He is being recruited by UT to play Wide Receiver. To be honest, while he is a very good athlete to be sure, Im not as high on DeMarco Cobbs as others are. Don’t get me wrong. Very good prospect loads of potential, he has a good start on having an SEC body ( happened to see him while he was in Knoxville on his unofficial official visit and he is an athletic 6’1” ish 200 pound frame), and he has the athletic ability play/contribute at a number of different positions.
The concern I have as a wide receiver prospect he is very raw. He will need to be coached up before he is ready to contribute early but hey Coach Wilson did a good job getting Marsalous Teague ready early. If people are looking for this prospect to step in next season and make a huge difference in our receiving corps, I'm not sure that will happen.
Brandon Willis and Corey Miller. I saw both of these prospects perform in person back in June. Both participated in the lineman camp UT held=2 0in early June. At that time, I thought to myself if we could get one of the two of these prospects to go along with the defensive line commitments we have already it would be put UT in a position to have one of the top defensive line recruiting hauls in the country for 2010. To get them both, well just goes to show you what kind of recruiters UT has.
Brandon Willis was the defensive lineman star of the June camp I watched. He dominated every offensive lineman he competed against. He is ranked/rated as one of the best in the country by all the recruiting services .
Corey Miller isn't very far behind Brandon Willis in terms of potential and rankings. Corey Miller is just as impressive an athlete as Brandon Willis. To be honest and in my opinion only, Corey Miller may end up being gem of this recruiting class when all is said and done. Even though Miller originally committed to Florida State this summer, I knew UT would not give up the fight for him for any number of reasons. Don’t forget also that he has a good bloodline. His father is an ex-NFL lineman and knows what kind of training and preparation it takes to get to the NFL. Miller and Willis both were frequent visitors to UT during the spring and summer and our staff has been relentless in their pursuit of him.
Both Miller and Willis plan on graduating from high school in December and enrolling at UT in January. This is huge for a couple of reasons. UT gets them in the fold and on campus where they have nine months effectively to get them ready to play in September 2010. It would not surprise me and shouldn’t surprise anyone if both these kids find their way into the two deep next fall regardless of who we have returning. They both are that caliber of athlete. Plus, these are two less prospects UT has to babysit for 6 weeks until National Signing Day. Instead they can focus their efforts on filling out the last 5 or 6 spots in the 2010 class or working on the 2011 class.
Couple more tidbits for you:
Heard last night that Lattimore kid from Brynes, SC who is one of best running back prospects in country and teammate of Corey Miller and Brandon Willis - regardless of what you read in print - will probably end up taking an official visit to UT
And one more thing: I'm beginning to get feeling UT has better shot with James Stone than I originally thought.
9/10/09:'X' Says:If you closely read my recruiting update last week, two things should have stood out. First, I felt like, based on what I had been told, that UT was in really good shape with a couple of wide receiver/athletes in South Florida AND I’m not as sold on DeMarco Cobbs as many others seem to be.
On Tuesday, if you recall our discussion, I told you there were things going on with respect to recruiting that would bubble toward the surface later in the week. The Ted Meline commitment is one of those things.
The commitment from Ted Meline is really nothing out of the blue to be honest. UT identified him early as a prospect they really liked. He was offered a scholarship early and UT (lead by Eddie Gran) has UT has been at the top of his list for some time along with Georgia, Alabama and a couple of other schools throughout the last 6 or 7 months of the recruiting process. Georgia in my opinion was always the team to beat for Ted Meline. I don’t know if it matters whether Georgia is full at wide receiver for 2010. What I do know is, and I believe prospects are beginning to see this; Tennessee has just as much if not more to sell to prospects now as Georgia does.
Meline is a highly regarded wide receiver prospect, an athletic kid (6”1-2” ish 175 lbs), with excellent straight-line as well as football speed. Being from South Florida, it is almost a given that he plays against excellent competition week in and week out so my guess he gets every opportunity to play early in 2010. Also, I’m not convinced he does not end up getting a look at defensive back or safety at UT depending on how they finish out recruiting at both of those spots from here to February 2010.
If my count is correct, Ted Meline is the fifth commitment in this class from South Florida. I suspect we aren’t done down there either.
The obvious question now is how does this commitment effect or impact the recruitment of DeMarco Cobbs. Cobbs has been rumored to be a “silent” commitment for some time. I’m not a big fan of silent commitments. UT has many “silent” commitment that have or are enjoying nice collegiate careers at other colleges. That is all I will say about silent commitments.
Cobbs is a tremendous athlete. He is the Number 1 prospect in the state of Oklahoma at any position and RIVALS has him ranked as one of the top “athletes ” for 2010. He has the athletic ability and build to play any one of a number of positions in college and UT truly would like to have him. However, he is by no means a polished wide receiver prospect. Don’t believe me go check some of the evaluations posted by the analysts who watched him perform at Southern Cal’s receiver camp or at other skills camps he attended.
Also, Tennessee has not slowed down in its recruitment of wide receiver prospects in the slightest. To that end, Kenny Stills one of the top wide receiver prospects in Southern California is planning to make an official visit to UT this weekend.
All I have time for right now brudder.
9/3/09:'X' Says:From Where I Sit
Coach Kiffin released the much anticipated two-deep depth chart this past weekend. Given that seemingly every move this staff makes is with purpose, this is not your run of the mill depth chart. What this is in my opinion is the first step in the next phase of Coach Kiffin’s comprehensive recruiting plan. Does that surprise anyone?
Let’s recap a bit before we get to the good stuff. Think back to when Coach Kiffin accepted the position in December. From where I sit, it seems like the past nine months have been an ongoing Recruiting Infomercial. You can’t blame him. He inherited a program that was a shell of its former self. It had little energy or direction, a roster with middle of the road SEC talent (sans Mr. Berry) at the very best, lacked discipline, and clearly was headed in the wrong direction publicly and more importantly behind the scenes.
He promised no coach or coaching staff would out work him or his and he also promised a staff the fan base would be proud of. Right now, I’m buying what he is selling. The problem was what did he have to sell? Coach Kiffin does not have a great resume. What he does have is a Father who is a Hall of Fame Defensive Coordinator, a number of excellent coaches with professional and college experiences under their belts, and recruiters who simply don’t understand the word “no” when it comes to recruiting.
What Coach Kiffin could sell to a prospect and their family between December 2008 and September 5th, 2009, was discipline, getting kids prepared for the NFL, and the opportunity to play regardless of whether you happen to be a senior or a freshman. With that and virtually nothing else, this staff finished off its 2009 signing class in style and crept into the Rivals’ top ten signing classes in the America. This was no small feat considering the full staff was only together for about 4 weeks before signing day. Again, without a product to show prospects, Coach Kiffin and staff have received sixteen (16) commitments for its 2010 class.
For the past few months, recruits, parents, high school coaches have been left to try and figure this Kiffin guy out. Does he really mean what he says about playing freshman early or is this just recruiting gibberish most recruits here any number of times during the recruiting process? We have heard every player scholarship or walk-on was on equal ground, no brownie points for being an upperclassman, and no depth charts. Prospects were told you come to UT and do what we ask between the time you sign and the time you show up on campus you will have as much or more of an opportunity to compete for playing time as the players already in the program.
With the unveiling of the depth chart, the potential of maybe four or five true freshman in the starting lineup, many more true freshman likely to play Saturday and all throughout the season, I think the question has been addressed. Keep this mind. Freshman will not only play. Freshman are going to be counted on to play meaningful roles on offense, defense, and special teams.
Really, the depth chart is nothing more than the next part of the plan. As I write this, prospects, f ans, critics, detractors, Fulmerites, et al are about 48 hours away from the start of a new time for Tennessee football. Freshman will be starting, freshman will be returning punts and kickoffs, and heck we could even hear rap music during the warm-ups and see black jerseys sometime this fall but it’s all part of the plan.
While every part of the plan is important, the on field product is instrumental in how UT’s finishes the 2010 recruiting class and will undoubtedly propel them full bore into 2011 recruiting and beyond. You need to get this if you don’t agree with anything else. This is as much about appealing to 10, 11, 12 and 13 year old kids as it is about catching the attention of 2010/2011 prospects.
Enough about the plan. Let’s talk recruiting. August was been a fairly slow period. As of September 1, coaches could again start contacting 2010 prospects and officially offer 2011 prospects scholarships (more about this later). UT, per plan, has been active in both areas.
With 16, 2010 commitments, UT could conceivably take up to 16 more commitments I believe. Here is how I get there. My opinion but this is what I think.
By my count, UT signed 24 prospects in 2009. One did not get admitted to school and 4 were back counted for a total leaving 19 applied to the 2009 signing class. In 2010, we have a number of signees who project to be early enrollees (enter school January 2010) anywhere from 3 to 5 of these signees may be eligible for back counting. My guess is we may lose a commitment to another school for one reason or another, and you can just about count on one maybe two prospects having academic and/or clearinghouse issues and will not be eligible to get into UT. It’s fuzzy math at best.
You can also file this away. There are a number of high profile prospects (prospects committed to other schools now and uncommitted prospects) that are intrigued by UT and have just been waiting for these upcoming fall Saturdays to see what UT looks like under the new regime. Some of the names will start bubbling up in the next few weeks or so and that is why it is very difficult to project the prospects by position that UT right now… but here is my best shot.
Quarterbacks (2). Its Nick Stephens’ job next year and he will be backed up by junior college transfer Nick Lamaison then a couple of walk-ons. Certainly, there are a number of questions about whether Nick Stephens is an SEC level quarterback and the jury is still out on whether Lamaison will be able to contribute here…. the returns are not so good early on. For these reasons, UT ends up signing two (2) in the 2009 class.
In recent weeks, it appears current San Diego State commitment Tyler Bray has moved front and center as UT’s Number 1 quarterback prospect. He is a big kid (6’6”), needs some work in a strength and conditioning program, a little raw but he has a big arm. He with family in tow will be in town for an official visit for the Western Kentucky game. His high school football season does not begin until next week which works out to UT’s benefit as he will be able to take in the complete experience that is a UT football weekend. If Tyler Bray does not work out (I’m thinking he will though), UT would probably be looking at one of the names you have heard mentioned with UT over the last few months: Tommy Rees (Notre Dame commitment); Barry Brunetti (West Virginia commitment); or possibly Chase Rettig (Boston College commitment) as the next in line for one of the quarterback spots. While I think UT has put itself in good shape with this prospect, don’t discount the fact that at San Diego State Tyler Bray would be coached by former NFL Quarterback Brain Sipe….
My understanding is UT is looking to sign quarterback who is an early enrollee (January 2010 enrollee to school). Tyler Bray at least as I understand it right now is projecting to be an early enrollee so that fits one criteria.
Quarterback Number #2 is the most intriguing spot to me. The second spot will be filled by a prospect that is either flying under the radar right now who has really came on during his senior season or and maybe more probable is a quarterback committed to another college right now who may decide to take some visits this winter because of coaching changes that are almost certain to occur.
I don’t look for Jessie Scroggins to be in the quarterback mix. Things certainly can change but I think UT has moved on. I have said all along whether he goes to USC or not he still stays out on the west coast. Yes, I have heard the Phil Simms rumors that he is de-committing from Alabama. I have not been able to substantiate that these are nothing more than just rumor and speculation.
Running Backs (1). On so many levels, the upcoming season is going to be interesting. I do believe the following things after watching spring and fall practices. UT is much improved in the offensive line and our running backs can play. UT will feature a strong running game and I’m very interested, as our a number of high school running backs, to see how Coach Gran uses the talents of all our running backs, and keeps them all involved in the offense. Coach Gran’s reputation of developing running backs is unquestioned. Don’t think that many a running back prospect aren’t going to be watching in earnest to see if there are a enough touches to go around.
Interestingly, even after the signings of Bryce Brown and David Oku, a number of highly rated running backs prospects are very interested in UT. Over the summer, the running back board has been rather fluid. I think , depending on who you speak with, the top three running back prospects on their board are Michael Dyer (5’8” 200 lbs from Little Rock High School, Arkansas) ranked as either the #1 or #2 rated running back prospect in the country depending on what service you read ; Eduardo Clements (5’10” 185 from Booker T. Washington High School, Florida) ranked as the #8 all-purpose running back in the country ; and, Giovanni Bernard (5’9” 200 lbs from St Aquinas High, Florida) ranked as the #14 best running back in the country. I believe all three will end up taking official visits to UT and I think UT gets one of these running back prospects. This is one of those positions where you could see a prominent name or two pop up over the next few weeks.
You may also see UT make a play from in state running back prospect Keon Williams from Chattanooga Red Bank. He is one of the best prospects in the state of Tennessee not many know about. Tennessee does though. He camped at UT this summer and was as good as any running back that attended. In college, he could remain at tailback, has the build to add weight and move to fullback, or possibly move to another position on defense.
Wide Receivers (2). UT is off to a good start with its wide receiver recruiting with commitments from Matt Milton and Markieth Ambles. The worst kept secret among those that seem to know is UT appears to be the odd on favorite to land a commitment from DeMarco Cobbs. Cobbs is an athletic looking (6’1-ish 200 lbs) wide receiver prospect from Tulsa, Oklahoma who has already been to UT this summer for an unofficial visit. Many expect him to make a public commitment to UT in the near future. I’m not so certain that will happen. First, we are dealing with 17/18 year old kids, he could easily decide to take an official visit or two, or he could commit to UT or some other school tomorrow.
If Cobbs does fall to UT (again many expect this), I still expect UT to sign at another receiver. There are a number of quality wide receiver prospects in South Florida UT is in really good shape with plus UT continues its relentless pursuit of current Alabama commitment Blake Sims (6’1” 175 lbs from Gainesville, Georgia) who is a bigger version of Nu’Keese Richardson.
Offensive Lineman (3). Before all is said and done, UT signs at least three more offensive lineman in the 2009 class to compliment the three offensive line commitments they have to date. In terms of possible offensive line targets… it appears James Stone from Nashville Maplewood is close to the top of their list; Juwan James (current Alabama commit) from the North Gwinnett High School in the Atlanta area is another target. He committed to Alabama over UT in the spring and the rumors aren’t going away that he may be looking around at other schools. I’m not certain that is accurate but I do feel certain he is still hearing from UT; Arie Kouandjio (6'6" 315 lb prospect from DeMatha High School, Maryland) "officially" has UT in his top 8 schools he is considering. I understand right now UT is probably in his top 3 schools and he will likely visit; don’t forget about Chaz Green (6'6" 300 lbs from Tampa). True, Florida will be tough to beat here. Many though expected him to commit to Florida last spring or this summer and he hasn’t. His parents graduated from UT and this maybe one of those prospects taking a wait and see approach toward UT before he makes a decision. ; and, there is Damien Robinson (6’6” 300 plus pounds) from Olive Branch High School in Mississippi another prospect who likes UT.
Also, don’t be surprised if UT looks hard at an athletic kid playing tight end in high school that could move to offensive line in college ala Aaron Douglass. I still contend Tyler Robinson (6’3” 255) from Alcoa is one local prospect to watch as is another that fits this profile. Dakota Moseley (6’4” 250 4.8 forty) from Little Rock Arkansas is another.
UT is also looking at junior college offensive lineman who project to be early enrollees. UT is really making a push for JUCO offensive lineman John Cullen (6’6” 280lbs from Fullerton Community College, California). He is scheduled to visit this fall with the anticipation of making a decision soon thereafter. Auburn appears to be UT’s chief competition here. Also, there is Chucky Curry (6’6” 310 lbs from East Central Community College, Mississippi) who UT appears to be interested in . They like Cullen over Curry right now .
Tight Ends (1). Jeff Cottam is a senior. Luke Stocker will be a senior is 2010 and there is not much dep th after that. UT has a commitment from athlete Delvin Jones who some believe is the downfield tight end prospect UT has been looking for… I’m not so sure. First, he is a very raw looking prospect and second he looks to be more suitable for a defensive end than a tight end…. but that is just me and my opinion. Also, Channing Fugate, UT commitment, is more of an H-Back type than a true tight end prospect
I believe this staff really likes Trey Millard as a tight end prospect currently committed to Oklahoma I doubt that deters this staff. Plus, watch UT with Davis Dudchock (6'4" 225 lbs from Birmingham, Alabama). He committed to Vanderbilt early in the process but has started hearing from other SEC schools like Tennessee and Auburn as well as others I would expect him to visit UT later this fall.
Defensive Ends (1). The good news is UT has depth returning next season and the better news is UT is off to a good start with 2010 defensive end commitments. UT still is being prominently mentioned with a number of what is perceived as “difference maker” type prospects at the def ensive end position. I do expect them be selective if they take another player at this position. If you read much about recruiting from these internet reporter types, it may appear UT is on the outside looking in for most of these prospects. Don't buy it. Here are three uncommitted defensive end prospects at the top of their list. Brandon Willis (6'4" 250 from Brynes, South Carolina) ; JR Ferguson (6'3" 270 from Hargrave Academy, Virginia); Gabe King (6'6" 250 from Greensboro, North Carolina) OR, UT might pull one of these defensive end prospects committed to another school at this time. William Gholston (Michigan State); Corey Miller (Florida State); and Jalen Fields (Georgia) just for starters. Again, just because a prospect is committed to another school makes no difference to this staff.
Defensive Tackles (1 to 2 ). The good news is UT is off to a good start with three, 2010 defensive tackle commitments. What makes you worry a bit is each one these prospects still has work to do academically. To be fair, most prospects going into their senior year of high school and/or their sophomore year at junior college do have academic work to do. Given that two of the three defensive tackle commitments are junior college kids you are never 100% certain, regardless of their grades, if the y’ll make it through the rigors of the clearinghouse and the UT Admissions Department. With that said, I believe UT takes at least one more defensive tackle in this class if not two. With Dan Williams and Wes Brown graduating and really no depth at all returning behind Montori Hughes and Marlon Walls you have to continue to press hard for commitments here because of the above.
They have a good group of prospects to choose from to be honest but I believe target #1 is and has been for a long time Kelcy Quarles. Quarles is one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the country from Greenwood, South Carolina. He has been committed to South Carolina however he was close to de-committing from South Carolina and committing to UT this spring. There is something going on now with his recruitment and has even hinted that he could make an unofficial visit to UT for the Western Kentucky game. This is really one to keep an eye on for many reasons. This is a kid who would be committed to UT if not for parental reasons. UT has Quarles at the top of its defensive tackle board, and if South Carolina falters out of the gate this fall …. This one could fall to Tennessee.
There are a handful of other defensive=2 0tackle targets including two prospects from Georgia (Jeffrey Whitaker and Michael Thornton); Pahokee Defensive Lineman Richard Ash who has Tennessee in his top three; JUCO defensive tackle prospect David Mahoney from California who is planning on making an official visit to UT; there are a couple of South Florida defensive tackle prospects committed to other schools UT continues to recruit aggressively; and , don’t forget about ex-South Doyle defensive prospect Hakeem Wortham who is currently parked at Hargrave Military Academy.
Linebackers (2). I hope I’m wrong but as the season unfolds I believe it will become obvious UT lacks elite level playmakers at this position. UT has closed in on a small group of linebacker prospects they believe fit their scheme and are elite level SEC players. Consider UT is receiving an official visit from arguably the #1 prospect in the state of Florida middle linebacker Jeff Luc (6'1" 230 lbs from Port St. Lucie, Florida). Looks like a UT/Florida battle; outside linebacker Khari Fortt (6'2" 225 from Stamford, Connecticut) who is the #1 ranked prospect in the state and ranked the 26th best prospect in the country; LeDarius Owens (6'225 lbs from Bessemer, Alabama). A tough pull from Alabama or Auburn but I expect UT to be right in there; and, outside linebacker Josh Shirley (6'2" 225 lb s) from Fontana, California, who has consistently mentioned UT in his top two or three schools. There are other linebacker prospects on their board but these are the best of the best.
Safety/Cornerbacks (3). This is a position where UT has significant depth returning in 2010. With that being said, UT can afford to be very selective in terms of the prospects they take commitments from. UT will sign at least one impact corner (maybe two) and one impact type strong safety - since its almost a foregone conclusion that barring injury Eric Berry leaves after this season.
In terms of prospects to watch, at cornerback, UT is right in thick of it for at least five highly ranked corner backs… Victor Hampton (Darlington, SC); Cody Riggs (St. Aquinas High, Florida); Terrence Mitchell (Plantation, Florida); Christian Bryant (5'10" 180 lbs from Cleveland, Ohio (former teammate of Mike Edwards); and Joshua Shaw (6’2” 180 lbs, Palmdale High School, California #4 ranked cornerback nationally). Many that follow recruiting know Victor Hampton and UT have interest in one another. There are or appear to be off-field issues that need to be sorted through with Victor Hampton. That being said, with that said go watch his tape. In terms of corners, Riggs and Hampton seem to be a the top of the list.
UT appears to be ‘all in” on its recruitment of Dietrich Riley a strong safety prospect from St. Francis High School in LaCanada, California (#7 ranked strong safety nationally). He is also a very good running back prospect. Again, another prospect where his tape says it all ….. Coach Orgeron is leading this recruitment and UT is going head to head with USC . It would be a coup for UT to go into Southern California and pull this kid away from USC but I would watch UT with this prospect.
Another strong safety/outside linebacker prospect that bears watching is Corey Cooper (6'2" 200 lbs) from Maywood, Illinois. He is “kinda sorta” committed to Illinois but is planning on visiting UT. He is being recruited hard by UT's commitments from the state of Illinois Zac Fulton and Matt Milton.
A LOOK AHEAD.
At 12: 01 am on September 1, fax machines all across the country were buzzing with formal offers going out to 2011 prospects. UT was right in the mix. I understand UT formally offered upwards of fifty to sixty high school juniors scholarships.
Here are a few of the notable ones to keep your eye on. We’ll have more on these prospects in the future. I can’t release all the names right now, well, because I can’t. You understand, don’t you? I would expect over the next few days site like RIVALS or SCOUT will have fully populated lists of 2011 scholarship offers.
Everett Golson , Myrtle Beach, SC
Christian LeMay, Matthews, NC
Justin Worley, Rock Hill, SC
2011 Running Backs
Jeremy Hill, Baton Rouge, LA
Kenny Hilliard, Patterson, LA
2011 Wide Receivers
Kameel Jackson, Arlington, TX
Charone Peake, Roebuck, SC
2011 Tight Ends
Eric MacLain , Fayetteville, NC (Tennessee commit)
2011 Offensive Tackle
Watts Dantzler, Dalton, GA
Tyler Moore, Clearwater, FL
2011 Defensive Ends
Jalen Grimble, Las Vegas, NV
2011 Defensive Tackles
Anthony Johnson, New Orleans, LA (Tennessee commit)
Wayne Lyons , Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Shannon Brown, Adel, GA
A.J. Johnson, Gainesville, GA
James Vaughters, Tucker, GA
2011 Defensive Backs
Brian Randolph, Marietta, GA
Jabriel Washington, Jackson, TN
Clifton Richardson, Newport News, VA
C.J. Uzomah, Suwannee, GA
That is all for now. Enjoy each game
8/25/09:'X' Says:'Here is my UT two deep depth chart and my comments... whether you want them or not
Quarterback – 1) Jonathan Crompton; 2) Nick Stephens …. And it’s not even close based upon the last couple of scrimmage performances; Look for Nu’Keese Richardson to be inserted to run the Wildcat package quite a bit. During the scrimmages I have watched, the WILDCAT has been used frequently with Nu'Keese pulling the trigger. They have practiced this way too much for it not to be used.
Tailbacks – 1) Tauren Poole & Montario Hardesty ; 2) Bryce Brown …. Poole has really impressed throughout the fall. He has simply played better than Hardesty the last couple of weeks. Also, I can’t see any scenario though where Oku isn’t used as a slot receiver, in certain packages with Nu'Keese or Bryce Brown and/or on special teams. … Bryce Brown overtakes Poole and Hardesty by mid-season as the starter;
Fullbacks – 1) Austin Johnson; 2) Kevin Cooper. Not much separation here. Johnson may be a bit of a better blocker. Both will be used extensively and both have looked good in the passing game;
Offensive Line. Arguably the most important unit. Need to keep the starters healthy and need to get second line players much needed game experience. Both imperative because we are a run first offense given our limitations at Quarterback and Wide Receiver
Center – 1) Cody Sullins; 2) Josh McNeil… Sullins deserves it.. He has been consistent throughout spring and fall camp. The competition at the center spot has made McNeil a better player as well;
Guards – 1) Jacques McClendon and Vlad Richards ; 2) Cory Sullins and William Brimfield . Barring injury, one of most solid position along the front. I have been impressed with Brimfield's progress. I’m beginning to think Brimfield will ultimately be able to contribute. He'll need to next year;
Tackles – 1) Chris Scott and Jerod Shaw; 2) Aaron Douglas and Jequari Schofield. Scott and Shaw have been steady. Douglas will be starting sooner than later…. Depth here is a concern. If Chris Scott gets injured we have real problems protecting Crompton's blind side;
Again, it’s imperative we get our second team offensive line as many snaps as possible early in the season. An injury or two will occur that is almost a given. We’ll need second teamers to step in and play at some point during the season. I don’t think Schofield redshirts but that could change. He will be needed to play a significant role along the offensive front in 2010.
Tight End – 1) Jeff Cottam; 2) Luke Stocker – Quietly Jeff Cottam has stayed healthy this fall and has turned in a good camp. I think he is slightly ahead of Stocker because he seems to be more consistent catching the ball. Both look to play. We aren’t great here but we have a chance to be solid. ;
Wide Receivers – Given the injuries we have…. The first three out on the field will be 1) Brandon Warren, Quinton Hancock, and Marsalous Teague; the second group consists of NuKeese Richardson , Zac Rogers, and Todd Campbell. The freshman will play often and early especially Teague and Richardson injuries or not. You are forewarned though …. There will be a number of good plays and just as many bad ones with this group. My guess is since we seem to have an abundance of defensive backs you'll see Nyshier Oliver and/or Rod Wilks moved to the Wide Receiver position for depth purposes.
Also, you’ll see David Oku and NuKeese Richardson used in a number of different formations designed to get them the ball in space. These two true freshman plus Bryce Brown are our best play making threats… with or without the injuries
Defensive Ends – 1) Chris Walker & Gerald Williams; 2) Ben Martin & Willie Bohanon. We have a chance to be fairly good here. Martin needs to keep pushing . Bohanon will help as he continues to improve. ;
Defensive Tackles – 1) Montori Hughes & Wes Brown ; 2) Dan Williams & Marlon Walls. All four of these players will play and play extensively. Don’t think staff has been pleased with Dan Williams of late and Montori Hughes has been coming on after a slow start. Marlon Walls showed me enough in two or three series to know he’ll be in the rotation over some kids who have been there longer. Look for Rae Sykes to provide depth here too. My guess is Arthur Jeffrey redshirts to make certain his surgically repaired knee is 100% for spring drills.;
Linebackers – 1) Rico McCoy, LaMarcus Thompson, Nick Reveiz; 2) Savion Frazier, Greg King, Jerod Askew. We have depth here because Herman Lathers and Nigel Mitchell-Thornton are also in the mix. Our most athletic players are second teamers with the exception of McCoy. Reviez understands the defense and can get everyone lined up which gives him the edge over Herman Lathers or a true freshman for now. LeMarcus Thompson, if nothing else this camp, has been steady and shown me he can play a little. It will be interesting to check the depth chart at linebacker by Game 4 to see if it has changed compared to Game 1.
Cornerbacks – Tough to call. I thought Bret Vinson and Art Evans had the best shot to start but both have been slowed by injury. Not sure Vinson has done enough to gain the trust of staff as he didn’t practice at all in the spring and has been limited this fall. Evans re-injured a knee last Saturday not sure what his status is as of today. He looked gimpy at the end of the scrimmage Saturday. Anthony Anderson has had an excellent camp and looks to start at one corner. He is not flashy seems fairly consistent. Marsalous Johnson is consistent and may start at the other corner but I think he is just warming the spot for true freshman either Mike Edwards. My best guess is Anderson and Marsalous Johnson line up as starters in Game 1 . Vinson is the most athletic corner in the mix. We’ll need him as the season goes along. Whether he starts or not, Mike Edwards should play a lot in the secondary.
Safeties – 1) Eric Berry & Prentiss Waggoner; 2) Janzen Jackson/Darren Myles, Jr and Dennis Rogan. Really, do I need to say anything but Eric Berry? You'll see Berry lined up all over the place on defense. We have as much athleticism at the safety position as UT has had in recent time. Rogan is neck and neck with Waggoner for the starting free safety position and there is no doubt Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles are going to play significant snaps.20Waggoner will flat out hit you and all I can say about Jackson is he just looks like he belongs.
It has been awhile since Tennessee has had a set of young defensive back prospects like Oliver, Gordon, Edwards, Myles, and Jackson.
Kickers - By far and away Daniel Lincoln will handle field goals and PATs. I’m not sold on Chad Cunningham as a punter. David Harrington, a walk on punter, has matched Cunningham punt for punt this fall .. If not bettered him. Cunningham may start out as the punter but he is a shank or a block away from David Harrington being inserted as the punter.
Return Game. We'll see young guys returning punts and kick offs. At different times, Teague, Edwards, Gordon, Richardson, and Oku have all taken their turns returning kickoffs. Looks like Richardson and Rogan will share punt return duties.
8/24/09:'X' Says:Random Thoughts about the Scrimmage
I thought the scrimmage for the most part was pretty nondescript... My overall feeling is this is a much improved team over what we saw in the spring and I believe you can largely attribute that to the true freshman. I have every reason to believe freshman on each side of the ball will play prominent roles this fall.
Johnathan Crompton was not great Saturday but he was fairly good. He had a couple of bad plays but I guess we are going to have to live with that this year. Seems to have one or two of those in him each practice and scrimmage I have seen. The staff has to minimize these bad plays by Crompton as any one of those plays he seems prone to make can get you beat. Though he has improved since this spring, he still has trouble seeing the whole field and tends to lock in one receiver fairly quick.
Stephens just hasn’t taken the next step yet but I do see him playing this year.
We now have a few explosive players, a couple of special talents, and an imaginative play calling staff.
Also, if I was Montario Hardesty I would invest in a new alarm clock because he is one more missed meeting away from running third team... I have seen enough of Tauren Poole in the spring and this fall and I’m beginning to believe he can become a bona fide SEC running back. Bryce Brown as I have said for months is just a very special talent. Hardesty did not help his cause Saturday by fumbling either.
I think our offense has Mitch Browning's, a graduate assistant coach by the way, fingerprints all over it. It will be interesting to see if he is not a permanent part of the staff next season.
I love what our staff is doing with individual position battles: Sullins/McNeil; Douglas/Shaw; Williams/Hughes; Martin/Williams; Waggoner/Rogan; Stocker/Cottam; and, Johnson/Cooper to name just a few. It can only make the team better.
Other than quarterback, my biggest concerns our interior defensive line depth and our linebackers. I thought it was telling that comments after scrimmage inferred that Marlon Walls is being counted on for defensive tackle depth this season. The kid has been on campus all of one week. Tells you what they think of a few of the other scholarship defensive tackles that just haven’t stepped forward... We just can’t suffer injuries along the front. Our first 6 or 7 are pretty good. After that, we are inexperienced
Looks like the starting linebackers will be Thompson, Reveiz, and McCoy but Greg King and Jerod Askew, both true freshmen, should be in the two deep. Either one of these freshman could be starting by mid season. I think you'll see the staff tinker with the linebacking corps as the season goes along
Mike Edwards can play. He has been the most impressive freshman on defensive by far this fall. I'm certainly not a talent evaluator but when I watched his tape last winter I thought we stole one from the Big Ten schools. You can tell watching his tape he has very good football instincts. He may not start but I feel he will pay significantly as will other true freshman defensive backs Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles.
Our kicking game still continues to impress in scrimmages. Let’s hope that carries forward to the season though we still don’t seem to have anyone who kick the ball into the end zone on kickoffs.
You are going to see true freshman returning punts and kicks. It will be exciting and won’t be without a mistake or two along the way either.
What a great year in store!
Peace & Go Vols..
8/17/09:'X' Says:I had the opportunity to attend the scrimmage Saturday or "Pre-Season Game 2” as some call it. My overall feeling about the day can be summed up with the following phrase "it was what it was". What I mean is it was very hot, it was a tired looking team that had been through 2 1/2 weeks of grueling practices, it was an offense that looked out of sync, it was a defense that ratcheted up the intensity compared to last Saturday, and it was another day where freshman at many positions continued to impress.
Before I get into my scrimmage observations, I should mention a couple of things. First, I'm glad to confirm Marlon Walls is on campus. I say that half jokingly but I was beginning to wonder. I met Marlon on one of his recruiting visits to UT and I wanted to see for myself how he looked physically. Marlon has gained weight for sure. He looks much thicker through his mid-section and hips than I recall. Marlon has not been a part of a competitive strength and conditioning program for quite a while. I don't know how much he can help this year but he will get every opportunity to so. We have three spots set in the defensive tackle rotation for now. I didn't see anybody pushing to get in the defensive tackle rotation outside of Rae Sykes on Saturday. This is a bit troubling because a couple of the players who should be pushing for snaps and don't appear to be are upper classmen.
I went to the stadium very early Saturday to watch the kickers go through their pre-practice warm-ups and drills. Our kicking game was not good at all last year and coming out of spring practice I didn't see a ton of improvement. I can say that Daniel Lincoln continued Saturday to build on a good August camp. He looks confident, he has a nice smooth stroke right now, and his leg looks to have gotten stronger compared to last year.
Chad Cunningham has improved since last I watched him punt in the spring... though I'm not sure it will be good enough to hold off walk-on punter David Harrington (think that is his name). If Chad Cunningham does beat him out, the team and Chad Cunningham both benefit from the competition. This Harrington kid gets the ball off quickly, looks to have a strong leg, and is making the most of his opportunity. We'll be much improved in this facet of the game compared to last year.
Now a few thoughts.
I remember watching the spring scrimmage just before Easter Good Friday morning I believe. Gerald Williams was running third team defensive end. In the scrimmage that morning he wasn't playing very hard and you could tell from the body language he wanted to be anywhere else but Shields-Watkins field. I was thinking what a wasted talent. About 5 minutes later Coach Oregon pulled Gerald aside for what we'll just say was some individualized instruction. Well, somewhere between that "session" with Coach Oregon that spring morning and the start of preseason practice the light has came on for Gerald. Let’s just hope he continues to build on what he has done so far this August. He couldn't be blocked Saturday;
It is really hard to determine just how good UT will be on defense. We have four projected starters that have participated very little this fall and three others that get limited scrimmage reps, the defensive staff has experimented with a number of different players and combinations of players during the past two weeks and this continued Saturday. I can tell you though when Eric Berry is on the field the defense just plays at a completely different level. He completely disrupted anything the offense tried to get accomplished Saturday. It will be both fun and interesting to see how he is used this fall and what the defense does when the staff decides on the first team;
On offense, there a still a number of positions that are up for grabs. Cody Sullins has not conceded the starting center position to Josh McNeil; Aaron Douglas has just about caught Jerod Shaw at right tackle; Kevin Cooper and Austin Johnson look to be neck and neck at fullback both will play extensively; and, Marsalous Teague looks every bit as deserving to be a starter as any other receiver on the team;
Though Montario Hardesty is the clear cut starter at tailback, Tauren Poole continues to take advantage of every opportunity he receives in the scrimmages.
I can’t imagine any team in college football having the quality depth at tailback position like UT. This is a good problem to have given this team still has many positions that are up in air at t-minus 3 weeks from 2009 kickoff and counting; and, lastly
Bryce Brown is going to be a special player and probably sooner than later.
Now for scrimmage thoughts, I paid more attention to the defense this week than the offense but in general, the offense though didn't look crisp. There were missed assignments, penalties, dropped passes, fumbles, and generally poor execution... blame was spread out evenly between the backs, lineman receivers and quarterbacks for sure. Still, I came away thinking Jonathan Crompton continued to distance himself from Nick Stephens in the quarterback battle... I don't think its close now. Jonathan made a few really nice throws and also made good decisions on where to throw the ball. He made a couple of plays he would have like to have had back but generally he had a good performance.
Nick Stephens just had a rough day. He made a few questionable decisions, forced the ball to covered receivers on more than one occasion and in general just had a tough day of it. When he did deliver the ball where it was suppose to be delivered, the receivers dropped the ball. Gerald Jones did not practice. Brandon Warren and Quentin Hancock made a couple of nice plays. I still came away more impressed with Marsalous Teague than any of the other wide receivers.
Now to the defense
As I mentioned earlier, with two-thirds of your projected starting defense observing its second straight scrimmage, I had a tough time figuring out what this defense will look like come September 5th. During the scrimmage Chris Walker dinged a knee and had an ice pack on it for at least half the scrimmage.... needs to get this kid and the others healthy soon. For the defensive front, I came away thinking this unit just continues to get better. Now, they still need at least one more defensive end l as well as one more defensive tackle to take a step forward in the next 3 weeks. Willie Bohanon looks to be the player who will figure in the defensive end rotation and could possibly move inside for a few snaps at defensive tackle if the other kids don't make a move. He plays hard on every single snap. He'll contribute this season at some position across the defensive front.
Rae Sykes got a lot of work at defensive tackle. I thought he more than held his own and looks to be leading a pack of about 4 other defensive tackles to back up Brown, Williams, and Hughes. As I mentioned earlier, Marlon Walls will have to get by on girth and sheer athleticism early on in his career at UT but he is going to get thrown right into the mix come Monday or Tuesday of this week.
I'm most concerned about our linebackers. McCoy has practiced very little. He is our best play maker at linebacker. We have potential at linebacker but the best prospects are very young and still trying to find their way plus they make a great play and bust the next assignment... Just can’t have that in the SEC. Nigell Mitchell-Thornton may have had his best day as a VOL Saturday. True, he busted an assignment or two, but he made play after play and delivered a number of big hits on running backs. Savion Frazier made a number of nice plays but this group overall is still a work in progress.
You should look forward to watching our secondary this fall. Right now, I think Prentiss Waggonner has nailed down the free safety position but the corner positions are anything but nailed down. Injuries to Vinson, Raines, and Art Evans have opened the door for Anthony Anderson and three true freshman ( Nyshier Oliver, Mike Edwards, and Eric Gordon). Dependable Dennis Rogan could slide over from the safety position at one corner. I would not completely rule out Mike Edwards starting at corner by Game 1 though.
Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles will be tough to keep off the field as well. My guess is we'll see a lot of 5 and maybe 6 defensive back looks to mask some issues we may have during the season at linebacker. Two things that are obvious to about the freshman defensive backs. They all have good ball skills and secondly they all seem to like to hit. Of the group, Janzen Jackson has a chance to grow into a very special player before he leaves UT in my opinion.
One closing comment about the offense. Sure, they struggled to find consistency Saturday but I think this offense is going to be fun to watch. You are going to see the tight end and the fullback involved in the passing game; you'll see two tailback sets employed quite a bit as Eddie Gran used at Auburn with Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown; Nu’Keese Richardson will play quarterback at times (this package has been used too much in the scrimmages for it not to be a prominent part of the offense); and, you will see concerted efforts to get the ball to David Oku, Nu'Keese Richardson, and Bryce Brown in the open field. These three true freshmen are our best big play threats and it’s not even close.
Can’t wait for the season to get here.
8/10/09:'X' Says:Isn’t it great that football is finally here again! I did have an opportunity to attend practice Saturday and here are a few of my thoughts. Saturday, I paid more attention to the offense than the defense. Personally speaking, I thought there were more questions to be answered on offense than defense coming out of spring practice into the fall. I was curious to see the progress made on offense and Saturday, the offense was better than the defense.
Consider though the defense was minus Wes Brown, Brent Vinson, and Rico McCoy all held out because of injury and all are projected to be starters this fall plus Eric Berry only played a series or two on Saturday. You know what you have with Eric Berry so why risk injury. While the party line is the defense was not limited schematically, I'm not sure I buy it. Anyway, because of the aforementioned injuries and the staff wanting to see what they had in the freshman, the defense played with a number of young kids who got caught out of position more than once.
First though, my biggest concern coming out of Saturday is with Wes Brown. Its August and he is clearly already on a pitch count or maybe better termed a snap count. He was dressed out but had a tough time jogging from the tunnel to the sideline. My guess he is only going to be good for so many snaps this fall so his practice participation is being managed by the training staff. Wes Brown is definitely a key player for depth and experience on the defensive line and is health is something to keep an eye on.
Before I get into my recap a few things stood out during the day. First, the most positive thing I saw all day was Daniel Lincoln connecting on a 47 yard field goal late in practice. He made it with a few yards to spare. That was a good sign. He needs to have a solid year; Josh McNeil showed toughness that I haven't seen from him in the past. He got his bell rung late in practice. In years past, he would have been done for the day. After a couple of minutes, he got up, waived the Sullins kid off the field and Josh McNeil went right back to the huddle and didn't miss a snap. Also, he looks thicker this year than in years past; and, lastly, Bryce Brown is going to be a special player. More to follow on this later.
As I said above, the scrimmage was set up for the offense to do well in my opinion. I'm not going to mention a lot about the defense in this recap but a couple of notes. I will tell you linebacker Greg King stood out. If you recall as far back as February of this year, I was telling you right here at Basilio's site that Coach Kiffin (Monte) liked Greg King as much or better than any defensive target on their recruiting board My guess is that he is in the linebacker rotation from Game 1 if he continues to progress. Janzen Jackson is another true freshman that could be our next great defensive back. With players like Jackson and Bryce Brown it is just hard to describe why but they stand apart from the others. I thought Prentiss Waggonner and Darren Myles, Jr. both made plays Saturday and I like Mike Edwards too. Chris Donald, playing defensive end, had a decent scrimmage. With our defensive line depth in question, he may have a chance to contribute there this year.
Offensively, Jonathan Crompton did have a good day throwing the football. Being objective though, there were a couple of plays where he held the ball too long before getting the football to an open receiver. On one play early in the scrimmage he gave up on a deeper route that was open and threw to a receiver running an intermediate route.
In the SEC that could be the difference between a touchdown and a field goal which could get you beat .. not much margin for those kinds of decisions in this league.
Overall, his performance was a significant improvement in what I saw from him this spring. Nick Stephens had a so-so day. He made a couple of good throws and a couple that made you scratch your head. He forced a couple of throws that against SEC defenses would have been intercepted and returned for touchdowns. Rozier has a nice arm and release but he and Lamaison have a ways to go.
I was really impressed by the offensive line play Saturday. Honestly, I did not think Jarrod Shaw would ever play a down of football under this new coaching staff. He has lost weight, appears to have taken to toughness demanded by the new staff, embraced the competition, and has put himself in a position to contribute this fall. Jacques McClendon and Josh McNeil look as good physically as they have since arriving on campus. Chris Scott still needs to lose a few pounds. Aaron Douglas has really gotten bigger since the spring. He and Jerquari Schofield both will play this fall. Vlad Richard is our best lineman. He is the one guy we can’t afford to lose to injury along the front.
Gerald Jones had a nice scrimmage. He is our best receiver right now. We'll miss Denarius Moore until he gets back on the field. Todd Campbell did make a couple of nice catches Saturday. Looks like he is trying to take advantage of the opportunity created due to all the injuries at the wide receiver position. Other than the three freshman, the other receivers did not get much done. Teague, Richardson, and Rogers looked like they belong. All took a few good shots during the scrimmage and it didn't seem to phase them. These kids will have their ups and downs during the fall but those receivers are our future. Nu'Keese will be fun to watch. He is small and quick and what impressed me was that he took a couple of big shots and popped right up. Teague has good football instincts and just appears to be a really good football player.
The tight ends had a good day catching the ball. I was concerned though that our wide receivers and backs to a lesser extent continued to have trouble with alignments. They had this problem in the spring and on more than one occasion they had the same problem Saturday. Need to get this fixed.
We have four running backs that can play for any college football team in the country (five if you count Toney Williams who is hurt). If you are looking for reason for concern or a negative with the running backs, I guess you could argue that behind Hardesty we are terribly inexperienced. You would have to look hard for other negatives though. All four run hard, catch the ball well out of the backfield, and barring injury all will contribute this fall.
Hardesty looks ready for Game 1 right now. If he stays healthy and fresh, I would expect big things from him this fall. Tauren Poole understands the landscape and knows he must make every rep count. Saturday may have been his best overall day since he showed up on campus. I was impressed with David Oku. He ran hard and tough plus he showed the kind of burst we haven't seen from our tailbacks in a few years.
With all this said about Hardesty, Poole, and Oku, all very good running backs, Bryce Brown is our best running back and our best offensive weapon on campus. He may not be there just yet but he showed me enough Saturday that I'm not concerned at all about making that statement. Listen, this may have been a scrimmage but there is no doubt Bryce Brown has been a marked man all week in practice and when he was in the backfield Saturday he had a bulls eye on his chest. The defense locked in on him. Probably not a bad thing. I expect he'll be a marked man at least 12 more times between now and Christmas. Reports are he suffered a mild concussion earlier in the week. He took a big shot from Greg King early in practice and took repeated big hits throughout the scrimmage and they didn't seem to faze him at all. Time after time he popped up after each hit and his demeanor never changed.
I don't know Brown’s stats from the scrimmage but his best runs of the day were the three or four times he looked to be stopped for a loss of yardage and he made it back to the line of scrimmage or maybe gained a yard or two (made something out of nothing). He also made a couple of nice gains on sweeps when it looked as if the pursuit had the angle on him and he out-ran them. He did it effortlessly too... You just can’t coach that.... the instinct, the body lean, and the make-up he has.
He is a true freshman but he looked anything but that on Saturday.
Overall, I left optimistic and looking forward to next Saturday. We still are a work in progress and still need more players that can play at an elite level in the SEC which is where UT is trying to get back to.
What I took away from this scrimmage was we are going to see a number of young, talented kids play a lot of football this fall. I just hope for continued progress on both sides of the ball.
8/7/09:'X' Says:Isn’t it interesting just how much things have changed in a matter of 12 short months? Let’s think back to the eve of fall practice in 2008.
Coach Fulmer and staff were working on putting together a top 10 recruiting class, cautious optimism about the upcoming season was in the air, and finally new blood had been pumped into the offense (well at least that is what we thought).
Also, if you remember, the recruitment of defensive lineman, or lack thereof, was to the 2008 coaching staff what the recruitment of quarterbacks appears to be to the current Tennessee staff …. at least through 8 months.
For some reason though, when I think about it and compare recruiting in August 2009 to recruiting in August 2008, this current recruiting class and the momentum it seems to have just has a different feel to it...Maybe it’s the coaches, maybe it’s the commitments, maybe it’s how Coach Kiffin finished off the recruiting class that Coach Fulmer started last year, or maybe it is a little bit of all the above. To be honest, there just seems to be a different feeling all around this Program.
So how good is recruiting going right now? Since, none of the committed prospects can actually sign scholarship papers until December (mid termers) or next February, I suspect the correct answer is we will have to wait and see. For someone who follows recruiting on a daily basis, I must tell you I’m more than cautiously optimistic about the way 2010 recruiting is shaping up but I’m even more optimistic about 2011 .
I’m going to take our 2009 quarterback recruiting and set it aside for a minute. I believe there has probably been a mis-step or two so far related to our pursuit of quarterback prospects. However, if last year taught you anything about Coach Kiffin and staff, don’t count them out of any recruiting battle for any prospect quarterback or any other position.. Remember, at this time last year Marsalous Teague, NuKeese Richardson, Bryce Brown were all committed to other schools. They all wear the Orange now…
Let me give you a couple of reasons why I’m more than cautiously optimistic about our recruiting. First, all the so-called recruiting analysts have bemoaned UT’s recruiting stating that UT could not attract top flight wide receiver or offensive line prospects until it secured a quarterback commitment for the 2009 class. Really? This opinion did seem to garner more credibility as we whiffed on the likes of Jake Heaps, Jessie Scroggins, Chase Rettig, Barry Brunetti, and others over the past few months. Did you20notice what has happened in the span of the last week? UT received a commitment from Markieth Ambles the 7th ranked wide receiver prospect in the country and Matt Milton ranked the 46th best wide receiver prospect in the (and physical freak at 6”6, 200 lbs). Also, UT received an unofficial visit from the #1 ranked wide receiver prospect in the country (Kyle Prater) by the way he'll be back on an official visit for the UCLA game; and, the 11th best ‘athlete’, according to RIVALS, and the #1 ranked prospect in the state of Oklahoma DeMarco Cobbs will be on campus this weekend for an unofficial. He too is being recruited as a wide receiver by UT. Also, UT is heavily involved with Kenny Shaw from Florida and at least two or three other wide receiver prospects in the state of Florida who can play for any school in the country. That is just part of the “A list” of wide receiver targets folks.
Looks like has UT adopted the non-traditional strategy of “if you commit wide receiver prospects your quarterback will follow” . As I have mentioned before, I don’t have any doubt UT will end up signing one or more quarterbacks by the time this recruiting season plays out. Even though you will not see or hear much on quarterback recruiting, there is a significant amount of activity going on behind the scenes. There will be more on offensive line recruiting later.
Next, think back to last year at this time. The former coaching staff and the fan base for that matter were starved for any attention from SEC caliber high school or junior college lineman who had remote interest in playing football for UT.
The names of defensive lineman that I remember from last year that captivated most of us were two juco’s in Edwin Herbert and Akeem Hicks and a high school defensive tackle prospect with a suspect knee issue from Columbia, South Carolina named Chris Bond. None of these prospects ended up at UT of course opting to sign with Florida, LSU and Alabama respectively. Herbert has been a disappointment so far at Florida (arriving in January overweight), Hicks hasn’t quite got his academics in order, and the jury is still out on Bonds. Other than these three and even through most of the fall you did not hear UT mentioned with many defensive line prospects.
Now, let’s jump back to the summer of 2009. Here are the things I know and really all I need to know to tell me our defense line recruiting is in good shape.
First, we currently have five defensive line commitments for the 2009 c lass. Three high school prospects… Jacquez Smith, JC Copeland, and Rissean Broussard and two junior college defensive lineman Patrick Harris and Jonathan Brown.
Next, consider that during the last three months defensive tackle prospects Evan Hailes; Darius Kilgo and Maurice Hayes have been on campus for unofficial visits. All are very good prospects and at some point in the recruitment of each of these prospects, UT has been named their leader or co-leader. For right now, UT has passed on one of the prospects (Hailes) and is taking a wait and see approach on the other two prospects (Kilgo and Hayes).
Evan Hailes is interesting. He is a nationally rated as the 18th best defensive tackle prospect in the country by Rivals and it was almost a foregone conclusion he would commit to UT over the summer. For a number of reasons as I understand it, UT backed off this prospect and Evan Hailes eventually committed to Penn State. Just think if Evan Hailes would have been a class of 2009 recruit. He would have arguably been the centerpiece of our defensive line recruiting in 2008 and arguably one of the top prospects on our defensive line board.... last year. Now, plain and simple, there are better prospects on our board.
We are still recruiting both Hayes and Kilgo but UT has a limited number of slots remaining for defensive line prospects (two, possibly three). The reason UT has not taken commitments from Kilgo and possibly Hayes is UT is still in play with such a number of highly rated defensive line prospects that it appears we simply won’t have room for all the defensive line prospects that appear to be interested in coming here. My what a difference a year can make?
As I have stated before, in my opinion, UT will end up turning away a defensive line prospect (hopefully not two) that want to come to UT but we simply don’t have the scholarship room.
Remember the following names. In the upcoming weeks and throughout football season, you will hear UT mentioned with defensive line prospects like Brandon Willis (6'4" 250 from Brynes, South Carolina. RIVALS rates as the 6th best Strong side defensive end prospect and the 37th best overall prospect in the country) ; JR Ferguson (6'3" 270 from Hargrave Academy, Virginia. #3 Strong side defensive end prospect in the country and the 17th best overall prospect in the country); Gabe King (6'6" 250 from Greensboro, North Carolina. Rated as the #1 prospect in the state of North Carolina in 200. Rivals rates him as the 5th best Strong side defensive end prospect in the country and 29th best overall prospect) ; and , George Uko (6'4" 280 from California. #4 overall defensive tackle prospect in the country and the 51st best prospect). Willis, Ferguson, and King are big, thick and athletic defensive ends who could wind up as defensive tackles in college.
Don’t worry about defensive ends. UT is heavily involved with a number of elite defensive end prospects such as Ronald Powell (6'4" 230 from Rancho Verde, California, and the 3rd best prospect in the country for 2009); Delvin Jones (6'6" 240 from Miami, Florida, rated as the 17th best athlete in the country and a prospect that could play tight end of defensive end in college); FreShaud Hunter (6'5" 245 from Cary, North Carolina. Ranked as the 11th best Strong side defensive end prospect in the country); Corey DeLorimer (6'5" 225 from Hialeah, Florida. Rated as the 6th best Weak side defensive end prospect in the country; AND , Lynden Trail (6'7" 230 lbs from Florida. Ranked by Rivals as the #10 weak side defensive end prospect in the country) . Again, this is our A-List of defensive line prospects.
Also, don’t be surprised if committed defensive line prospects Corey Miller (Florida State) and Chris Martin (Notre Dame) end up visiting this fall or winter either. UT has not let off the recruiting gas on either prospect. All the prospects above are nationally ranked top 100 caliber20players. To be sure, UT can't and won’t sign all these prospects. However, if UT lands one or two of the prospects to go with the defensive line commitments we have to date, UT will have one of the best hauls of defensive line prospects in the country. The only question I have is wonder if we took too many junior college kids too soon?
Again, what a difference a year makes.
In my next post, I will provide an overview of a few of the top offensive line and linebacker targets.
Now a few random thoughts.
I feel fairly confident, regardless of what our depth chart may tell you, UT will aggressively pursue and sign a highly rated running back in the 2010 class.
Speaking of linebacker recruiting, lot of activity going on between UT and a number of highly rated linebacker prospects.
Someone who has watched more Tennessee high school football over the years told me the dirty little secret was that Zac Rogers was the best wide receiver in the state of Tennessee last year not Marlon Brown. Very anxious to see how Zac Rogers does when the pads go on next week.
I’m equally interested in seeing Greg King on the defensive side of the ball. He has impressed many who have seen the preseason workouts. He along with Darren Myles, Jr. were at the top of our Defensive Coordinator’s "must get list" last recruiting year.
7/29/09:'X' Says:In this recruiting update, what I have done is select a few of the major football college programs, look at their current quarterback depth charts going in to the 2009 season, look ahead at their 2010 commitment lists to see how many if any quarterbacks they have committed, put all that information together and take a look at quarterback depth for these programs for the 2010 season and beyond. Most importantly I tried to see if we can identify a not so obvious situation where... UT may ask the question... Hey, you never know unless you ask.
Now, I do this for what reason? Because it interesting to me. Again, I do not have any nor is this based upon any inside knowledge per se. However, it is interesting that a number of major college football programs continue to recruit and take quarterback commitments in light of fairly crowded quarterback depth charts. Yes, prospects do seem to be making college decisions earlier and earlier to keep their spots warm certainly. All I'm saying is... as competitive as these kids are you would think that maybe one or two of these kids would look at want to take a look at UT's quarterback situation and the opportunity to play very early.
This was not put together scientifically to be sure. Rather, I based this on looking at 5 or 6 major college programs of my choosing who have highly rated quarterback prospects (both pro style and dual threat) committed in their 2010 signing classes and programs where their current quarterback situations intrigued me. See not very scientific. I could have picked 5 or 6 different schools if I wanted to do so.
University of Texas. I always get a knot in my stomach when I mention UT football and prospects from the state of Texas in the same sentence. We haven’t had much success with Texas kids in the past but look at their quarterback situation. Texas has two quarterback commitments for its 2010 class and had them both for awhile. One is a legacy kid, Colt McCoy’s younger brother, Case McCoy and the other is a very highly rated pro-style quarterback named Conner Wood (ranked by Scout as the #5 Pro Style quarterback prospect in the country for 2010). Both kids are from Texas.
When Colt McCoy departs after this season, it currently looks like the quarterback competition will be between Sherrod Harris, John Chiles, the back-up last season who was thought to move to wide receiver, and 2009, 5-star recruit freshman phenol Garret Gilbert.
If Garret Gilbert, who appears to be the heir apparent, is as good as advertised, these 2010 quarterbacks would be looking at redshirting then sitting for a couple of years before they would see any meaningful playing time. I don’t see Colt McCoy’s younger brother looking elsewhere – but Conner Wood might be worth a phone call just to see (again just my opinion) if there is interest. Also keep in mind, the state of Texas always produces more than a handful of excellent high school quarterback prospects year in and year out. 2011 is no exception.
Penn State. In my opinion, the Penn State quarterback situation is very, very intriguing. First, Penn State already has two (2) quarterbacks committed for its 2010 class. The first is Robert Bolden, a highly regarded dual threat type quarterback, who committed earlier this month. The other quarterback commitment is Paul Jones a 6’3” 225 lb pro-style quarterback who has been committed to Penn State since earlier this year. Here my friends is where its gets interesting. One of the plums of Penn State’s 2009 signing class was Quarterback prospect Kevin Newsome. Kevin Newsome was or is a highly regarded dual threat quarterback that was recruited by UT and many other major college programs before settling on Penn State. Kevin Newsome will battle Shane McGregor and Matt McGloin for the backup quarterbacking position this season and he will probably be the odds on favorite to win the quarterback job in 2010 as a sophomore.
Now it gets better, remember Pat Devlin? Pat Devlin was a highly recruited pro-style quarterback who signed with Penn State in the 2005/2006 time frame. Big time arm and a big kid (6’4” 225 lbs) and your prototypical drop back passer who just never fit in Penn State’s offensive scheme. He split time for awhile but finally gave up most of the quarterbacking duties to smaller, more agile quarterback Darryl Clark. After last season, Pat Devlin transferred from Penn State to the University of Delaware.
Even going back to the days of Anthony Morelli, pro-style quarterbacks have never really flourished in Penn State’s offensive system at least in my opinion. Paul Jones is one of the highest rated pro-style quarterbacks on the east coast…… I don’t know if he is having second thoughts but20might be worth a call ... you never know
Alabama. Equally intriguing to me is the quarterback situation with Alabama. Alabama has one quarterback commitment to date in its 2010 class and he is a good one, Phillip Sims. He is arguably the #1 or the #2 pro-style quarterback in the country for 2010 and the former high school teammate of current VOL Jerod Askew. In addition, Alabama just offered high school quarterback prospect Michael Strauss from Florida a scholarship. It appears they fully intend on taking two quarterbacks in their 2010 class and of course it is certainly their prerogative to do so. Michael Strauss is currently committed to Tulane University. I found it interesting that UT evaluated Strauss but decided not to offer him a scholarship.
This past spring Greg McElroy, a redshirt sophomore, was named Alabama’s starting quarterback. You figure it his job to lose for the next three years. He is currently backed up by Thomas Darrah and redshirt freshman Star Jackson and true freshman AJ McCarron. You may remember AJ McCarron. He is a really good quarterback prospect that UT tried to turn last year but was unsuccessful.
I don’t know much about Alabama’s quarterbacking plan or strategy but my guess is that AJ McCarron may redshirt this year and then next year (2010) Phillip Simms would do the same. Even if he does redshirt in 2010, Sims is still staring at backing up McElroy for a year, and then competing with McCarron and Jackson and who knows what other quarterback for the starting quarterback position… a fairly clogged up depth chart to be sure. One would think the opportunity for immediate playing time at UT would be worth consideration to a highly regarded prospect like Simms but so far the party line is he is firm to Alabama … Also, don’t think for one second Alabama wont recruit and sign at least one quarterback in its 2011 class as well.
On a side note, I was really surprised Phillip Simms committed to Alabama this spring without giving more consideration to other schools where the opportunity for playing time could be more immediate. I’m equally surprised that UT was not more involved with this prospect early on. Again, I have no knowledge of whether there is interest by either party right now. Interesting situation though.
Notre Dame. Notre Dame has two quarterback commitments for its 2010 class. They are Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees. These names should be familiar to UT fans. Both of the Notre Dame quarterback commitments had interest in UT and both received scholarship offers from the VOLS. UT had some interest in Hendrix . However, Rees is the one that got away. Our staff really liked the Rees kid.
Jimmy Clausen has this season and one more remaining and their heir apparent to the Notre Dame quarterbacking spot is Dayne Crist is waiting in the wings.
Dayne Crist was one of those high profile, highly regarded pro style quarterbacks from California who was a five-star prospect out of high school. Unless there is an upset, the Notre Dame quarterbacking job will be Dayne Crist’s for at least two if not three years after Clausen departs.
The major other issue to consider is Notre Dame’s on field performance this season. If their performance is sub-par and they lose games they are expected to win…. the heat in South Bend will really get turned up on the Notre Dame administration to make a regime change. It would only take an early upset and poor performance against an inferior foe or two for the rumors around the Notre Dame coaching job to gain steam.
New coach brings in new scheme which may not fit the skills of Hendrix or Rees... equals another situation to pay attention to for sure.
Boston College. Not exactly sure why I included Boston College. Their situation is a complete train wreck. Boston College’s Athletic Director fired one of the best offensive minds in football Jeff Jagodzinski and named Boston College Defensive Coordinator Frank Spaziani the Head Coach. He is truly learning on the job, inherited a mess at quarterback, which has been further compounded by the fact their starting quarterback going into preseason practice Dominque Davis recently announced he was transferring to a community college because of grade issues.
I could not tell you who their starting quarterback is going to be. There are four kids competing for the position and none of them have ever played meaningful snaps at the collegiate level. Boston College has already lost one of the 2010 quarterbacks committed for 2010 to Michigan State which then opened up an opportunity for Chase Rettig. Now Boston is back to having two quarterback commitments for its 2010 class. Joshua Bordner and Chase Rettig.
We all know what happened with UT and Chase Rettig. UT opted to put its eggs in the Jessie Scroggins’ bucket and it didn’t work out. My guess is UT is still talking to Rettig. I don’t look for Boston College to have a very good season. The Boston College situation could work out two ways for UT. First, my suspicions are confirmed and Boston College's season is indeed a train wreck, Chase Rettig and UT continue to talk, he sees based on UT’s “on field” performance our system fits his skills better than Boston College. Or, he sees that Boston College is in such disarray at quarterback he can get there at mid-term and compete for the starting spot in 2010.. Again much the same as he could do at UT except at BC it’s in front of friends and family instead 100,000 plus in Knoxville.
Southern California. I hesitated to include USC as part of this recruiting update. Knowing how much this staff likes Jessie Scroggins my guess is his recruitment as far as UT is concerned is still ongoing. From what I know about USC, their quarterback situation is a two man contest between red shirt freshman Aaron Corp and true freshman Matt Barkley with Mitch Mustain and one or two other upper classmen competing for the third spot on the depth chart. If Matt Barkley wins that job as a true freshman either at the start of the season or at any time during the season, stay tuned.
West Virginia. I’m not going to say much here except that in my opinion Pat White was such a phenomenal athlete and football player that he single handedly covered up a number of issues West Virginia had last year on both sides of the ball. Pat White is no longer on West Virginia’s campus and we’ll see how well coached they are…. In my opinion, Barry Brunetti, a quarterback target on UT’s list who is currently committed to West Virginia, is a prospect who UT will be very involved with before signing day in February you can almost mark it down……
So relax a little bit there are still plenty of targets out there.
Also, consider this.. September 1 is the first day colleges can “officially” offer high school juniors (2011 signing class) scholarships. Prospects up until then can only be made unofficial (verbal offers) and sent basic recruiting information. On and after September 1, prospects can start receiving written scholarship offers and personalized, handwritten letters from staff members. When these official offers start going out to 2011 quarterback prospects, this entire situation is really going to get interesting.
Think for one second any of these schools will not aggressively recruit 2011 high profile quarterback prospects? No way. As crowded as Texas' quarterback depth chart looks, they will have plenty of 2011 quarterback options in the state of Texas. David Ash and JR Walsh will be two of the best in Texas in 201120and probably two of the best in the country. They set at the top of Texas class of quarterbacks for 2011 that looks to be above average.
Alabama has verbally offered one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the country for 2011 Teddy Bridgewater a scholarship (per Scout) plus don't forget about a 2011 Alabama quarterback prospect from Theodore, Alabama, named Chris Nelson. Alabama as well as many other schools are recruiting him.
USC has possibly the #1 quarterback prospect (if not #1 one of the top prospects for sure) in the country in its backyard- Max Wittek. Think USC will pursue him regardless of their depth chart?
Notre Dame and Penn State will have their pick of top quarterback prospects as well.
Also, UT will be active in 2011 regardless of whether they sign one or two quarterbacks in 2010. There are two or three 2011 quarterback prospects they really like.
So if nothing else what should you take away from this? Just remember. Recruiting is a dynamic process with many moving parts and the process it’s far, far from being over.
7/24/09:'X' Says:'Hindsight being 20/20... Didnt you get the feeling when I told you Scroggins took it easy at the UT camp so his hip would be ready for the USC Camp where he was headed?'
'X' Isn't buying the hype over the new guy:
'Here is the new apple of the Vol Fans' eye.
UT offered him a scholarship earlier in the week.
Kingburg (CA) Kingsburg High School
6-6, 187 lbs
I cant figure out why we are only chasing QBs in Southern California.
To be fair to the young man, I don't know enough about him to compare him to Scroggins, Rettig, or some of the others.
Two things stick out to me.. He needs a haircut and a Whatta Burger .. 6'6" 187 pounds......'
7/23/09:'X' Says:'Hey Basilio
You sound just like a Fulmer sheep... signing the kid for perception purposes
Fulmer did that for years... sign a kid for their stars whether they can play or not..
Listen they mismanaged ... how many quarterback propsects that were legitimately interested in UT?
They could have had Brunetti, Rettig, Rees (maybe) but the first two for sure if if they would have handled wither one correctly
They didnt heavily recruit Phillip Sims from Virginia, who was a teammate of Vol Freshman Jerod Askew instead of focusing their initial efforts on Jake Heaps.... A year ago Phillip Sims wanted to come here ...
They have had a bad stretch in recruiting for sure .... but they have over 170 to 200 offers out to kids ... many of these prospects UT NEVERS GETS A SNIFF WITH ... if Fulmer was still here
I dont agree with you at all on Scroggins ... He aint all that.
they'll be ok... they just screwed up the QB recruiting
Peace & Get It Right
7/20/09:'X' Says:A Look Ahead - 2011 Quarterbacks
First, I have to tell you, while looking ahead at 2011 quarterback prospects has been interesting and certainly a diversion from all the Jessie Scroggins drama, looking ahead at the 2011 quarterback prospects is at best a roll of the dice. Let’s put this in perspective, the only data points so-called recruiting analysts have to evaluate these “kids” is from their freshman and sophomore years in high school plus their performance(s) at skills or "7 on 7" competitions attended over the summer.
Consider too we are still 4 to 5 weeks away from the beginning of their junior seasons of high school football and eighteen (18) yes 18 months away from National Signing Day 2011. Colleges can’t even send these prospects handwritten letters or "officially" offer these prospects scholarships until September 1 - though many of these prospects have already been verbally offered scholarships by many colleges after their services. To be sure, all these kids will all mature differently, some will perform better and some will perform worse over the next two seasons compared to their performance as freshman or sophomores, and some will grow out of the quarterback position and/or will project to play a different position by the time they are ready to make a college decision on.
Before, we get started, there are a few observations I should make. I have been consistent in saying I don’t put much stock in what 17 and 18 year old high school football prospects say to these print or internet reporters that is in turn published in newspapers or on these websites. Most are slanted to pander to the fans of hometown papers or the given websites these guys work for. I put even less stock in what 15 and 16 year old football prospects say to these reporters. So, if you start reading up on these kids and they do or they don't mention UT ... Don’t worry about it. Lots of football to be played between now and signing day 2011 and probably lots of coaching changes will occur too that will impact where these kids choose to go to college.
Also, what immediately jumped out to me and will become obvious by the time you reach the end of this summary is that, at least for quarterbacks, 2011 will be a much better year than 2010 is.
It also appears that more than a handful of the most coveted 2011 quarterback prospects are located in the Southeast and that is what I have focused on for this summary. Seems this, if nothing else, has to benefit UT compared to recruiting high school quarterbacks 3 time zones away….
While some who read the following may be unfamiliar with many of these names, I can assure you these names are not unfamiliar to the UT staff. I'm confident our staff is aware of the skills and potential of most of these kids plus other high school quarterback prospects not included in this update. They have to be though. Its true UT is knee deep trying to fill needs in this class but I can assure you they have more than one set of eyes looking ahead to 2011 recruiting.
As this summary unfolds, I will note the prospects UT is already involved with and what the extent of that involvement is ….
To be honest, there will be a few prospects I really don't know how interested UT is at this time... and I will tell you if I don’t know.
Christian LeMay: 6’2” 200 lbs from Butler HS in Matthews, North Carolina. I should go ahead and tell you this is a name you should get used to hearing. He will be one of the most heavily recruited prospects in the country next year. I expect Tennessee to make this prospect a priority. UT has already verbally offered him a scholarship as has Florida, Florida State, and most of the ACC schools. I would expect his offer list to grow. I should also tell you he grew up in Gainesville, Florida, and his father was the team Chaplain for the University of Florida football team back in 2005. Regardless of family ties to Gainesville and the University of Florida, I still expect UT to go hard after this prospect.
Another name you should get used to hearing is Everett Golson. He is a 6’1” 170 lb pro-style quarterback prospect from Myrtle Beach High School in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Talk about a freak of an athlete. As a freshman, he threw for 35 touchdowns and as a sophomore; he followed up and threw for 44 touchdowns. An accomplished basketball player as well, he may be the best high school athlete in the state of South Carolina.... now; He has a Tennessee offer as well. Another prospect UT will make a strong push for in 2011.
Another prospect you will hear mentioned with Tennessee is Teddy Bridgewater. He is 6‘3” 170 lb dual-threat quarterback prospect from Northwestern High School in Miami, Florida. As a sophomore, he split time between quarterback and wide receiver. I have read where if he devoted his time to polishing his wide receiver skills he could be one of the elite 2011 wide receiver prospects. Nonetheless, as a quarterback he will be on every major college’s wish list. I look f or UT to be involved if no other reason because Eddie Gran is so well connected to South Florida.
There are two, 2011 quarterback prospects in the state of Tennessee that will be highly recruited prospects provided they continue to build on their sophomore season performances. They are:
Jake Overbey, 6’2” 175 lbs from University high School in Jackson, Tennessee. As a sophomore, he accounted for 38 throwing and running. If this prospect continues to mature and develop I would expect him to get a long look from UT. I got the feeling in speaking to a couple of people this prospect may be more of a dual threat prospect but I do know UT is aware of him and will follow his progress.
The other is prospect is Michael Johnson, 6’5” 200lbs from Briarcrest High School in Memphis. Big kid, big arm. Again, he like many of these prospects is raw and his body has a lot of maturing to do he is just a sophomore let’s keep that in mind. UT knows about him and will recruit him. Many of the other SEC schools are recruiting him a well.
There are at least four (4) quarterback prospects in the state of Georgia UT is evaluating. They are in no particular order:
CJ Uzomah, 6’5” 210 lbs from North Gwinnett High School, Georgia. Big athletic kid who collegiate future is probably at another position. Tennessee has already verbally offered this prospect a scholarship as an athlete.
Austin Brown, 6’1” 185 lbs from Habersham Central HS from Mount Airy, Georgia. It will be interesting to watch and see how this prospect matures physically and improves his mechanics over the next couple of years. He has an excellent arm and is a prospect in a very good high school program. This is one to keep an eye on. He could be the #1 QB prospect in the state of Georgia by this time next year.
Tony Daniel, 6’5” 188 lbs from South Paulding HS in Douglasville, Georgia. Here is one prospect that does not have an offer but it will be interesting to see if that changes over the course of the next few months. His body needs to mature but he has a big arm. Attended camp at UT this summer so staff has had chance to watch and evaluate
Nick Marshall, 6'2" 190 lbs, Wilcox County High School, Rochelle, Georgia. Odds on favorite to be top QB prospect in the state of Georgia for 2011. As a sophomore threw for 29 touchdowns, ran for 4 others and completed 57% of his passing attempts. Another prospect UT as well as many other schools is evaluating.
Two other Florida High School quarterback prospects on Tennessee's radar are:
Phillip Ely, 6’1” 175 lbs, Plant High School, Tampa Florida. Robert Marve, Aaron Murray and now Phillip Ely. Ely stepped for Georgia signee Aaron Murray last year when Murray broke his leg and threw for 1,616 yards and 17 touchdowns in eight games. This is a prospect that has increased his stock over the summer by his performances at various skills camps. His body needs to mature but you can be sure this is one prospect UT already knows about.
Jeff Driskel, 6’4” 233 lbs, Hagerty High School, Oviedo, Florida. By the end of his sophomore year, this prospect begins showing the potential that may make him one of the hottest quarterbacking commodities in the state of Florida in 2011. If he continues to improve and progress, he may emerge as one of the nation’s best. He's a big, strong-arm prospect and a prospect you can be sure UT is watching his progress.
We have never had much recruiting luck in the state of Texas.... but here are two QB prospects that will be national recruit s. Texas is coming up on a situation where they have a fairly crowded depth chart which may have these prospects looking elsewhere.
David Ash, 6’3” 190 lbs, Belton High School, Belton, Texas. Right now, he is rated as the #1 quarterback for the 2011 class in the state of Texas. As a sophomore, he threw for 24 touchdowns. He is already a prospect that the national recruiting services project to be one of the nation’s best in 2011.
JW Walsh, 6’2” 185 lbs, Guyer High School, Texas. I don’t have many contacts in this recruiting business .. but I have a few. One who spends time traveling around watching these high school quarterback prospects told me the following about this prospect, “He may be one of the best pure passers I saw in my travels through Texas. He should be one of the top 2011 quarterbacks in Texas if not the top. He has a quick release, the arm strength to make every throw and good feet in the pocket. His body needs to mature but I expect him to be a national recruit this time next year.” Works for me. It will be interested to see if UT dips into Texas to fill its quarterback needs.
In addition to Ash and Walsh, Texas is choked full of very good 2011 quarterback prospects.
In addition to Everett Golson who I mentioned above, there are at least 5 or 6 other quarterback prospects in the Carolinas that will be heavily recruited in by BCS schools in 2001. Also, there are probably 5 or 6 other “athletes playing quarterback” that will also receive considerable recruiting attention. Expect UT to evaluate more than one of these prospects. Here are a few names to keep up with.
Justin Worley, 6’4” 180 lbs, Rock Hill Northwestern, Rock Hill, South Carolina. In addition to a rising pro-style quarterback prospect, Justin Worley may have a future as a baseball player as well. Early on, he looks to be a prototypical drop back /pro-style passer and one UT is really interested in. This is another prospect I would expect UT to make a strong run after.
Price Litton, 6'2" 205 lbs from Charlotte Providence Day High School, Charlotte, North Carolina. Big kid with a live arm. Played sparingly last season as a freshman and transferred to Providence Day High School where he is the starter. His stock has really risen this summer through his performances at skills camps and competitions.
Marquise Williams, 6'3" 180 lbs, Charlotte Mallard Creek High School, Charlotte, NC. A dual-threat quarterback at 6-3 and 195 pounds, Williams has 4.7 speed and was an all-conference pick as a sophomore after totaling more than 3,000 yards of total offense and 37 TDs.
Vad Lee, 6‘2” 190 lbs, Hillside High School, Durham, North Carolina. Threw for 35 touchdowns as a sophomore. Timed in 4.4-4.5 range in forty yard dash. Quite likely, this is a prospect that may project to play another position in college. My guess is UT will pursue this prospect as an athlete but not a QB. This is one prospect from the Carolinas that has a chance to be really special player at the collegiate level.
On a side note - during my research it became very clear the 2011 crop of high prospects at all positions coming out of South Carolina may be their best ever...
Since we are looking at regional quarterback prospects, there are two really good prospects in the state of Arkansas. They are:
Brandon Allen, 6'2" 185 lbs, Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Good size with strong arm and is a pro-style quarterback. Threw for 3800 yards as a sophomore. One of more polished passers for a sophomore in this group. Probably the #1 prospect in Arkansas by this time next year.
Kiehl Frazier, 6'2" 195 lbs, Shiloh Christian High School, Arkansas. This will be one of those really good athletes who is just learning the quarterback position. Good arm with excellent speed (4.4 forty). Hard to know whether he will be quarterback or a skill player at the collegiate level but certainly has the skills to be a coveted athlete in 2011.
After putting this list together, I can see why UT may opt to focus its quarterback recruiting on the class of 2011. I’m not saying they are finished looking at 2010 quarterbacks but I could certainly understand it if they are.
Around March 1 of 2010 I am going to pull up this list and see how many of these prospects emerge as legitimate targets for UT.
7/10/09:'X' Says:So, why has Chase Rettig has not garnered more interest from the PAC 10/West Coast schools. Anyone who has been following this Quarterback chase knows as of right now he has offers from only Boston College and Tennessee. Other schools have evaluated him but to date none have offered.
I went back and looked at the quarterback prospects signed by a few of the PAC-10 schools in 2008 and 2009.. and I even looked at who these same schools have quarterbacks commitments for 2010.
Kevin Prince** Likely starter in 2009
2009 – Richard Brehaut
2010- Brett Nottingham (verbal commitment)
2009 – Allen Bridgeford
2010 – Austin Hinder (verbal commitment)
2009 – Josh Nunes & Tayson Hill
2010 – Dallas Lloyd (verbal commitment)
2008 – Matt Scott
2009 – Richard Morrison
2010 – Matt Brown (verbal commitment)
2009 Pete Thomas & Brock Osweiler
2008 – Jeremiah Mosoli & Darren Thomas
2009 – Daryle Hawkins
2010 – Brian Bennett (verbal commitment)
2008 – Ryan Katz
2009 – Dax Dilback
2010 – Sean Morrison (verbal commitment)
· Oregon State also has a quarterback transfer Pete Lalich from Virginia
I don’t follow PAC 10 football too closely but it would appear the PAC 10 schools sampled are fairly well stocked at least in terms of young quarterback prospects for the foreseeable future. In fact, all but one school already have a quarterback committed for the 2010 class.
Jessie Scroggins is staring at a similar situation if he pulls the trigger and commits to USC. At USC, it appears that true freshman Matt Barkley is the heir apparent to Mark Sanchez. In addition to Barkley, consider that USC has four other quarterbacks on its depth chart
that ahead would be ahead of Scroggins including highly regarded Aaron Korp and Mitch Mustain to name a couple.
Tennessee’s depth chart should look favorable to either Chase Rettig and Jessie Scroggins. Consider the last quarterback prospect we actually signed and got to campus was BJ Coleman that was 3 years ago if my math is right. Casey Kelly was signed in 2008 but he never made it to campus and of course in 2009 Tajh Boyd, Josh Nunes, and Bryce Petty were all committed to UT at different times but none were signed by the new staff.
7/9/09:'X' Says:'Well.... I was tempted to start this July 8 Quarterback Recruiting Update with a clever statement like "certainly never a dull moment around here when it comes to recruiting " or "my how things can change in a matter of hours" . Really though, if the first 6 months of the Kiffin era have thought us anything, it’s that we should expect the unexpected at a moment’s notice, right?
Consider that (and this is all about me for a second) Tuesday morning I had completed a fairly detailed look at the Jessie Scroggins' recruitment, the quarterback prospects presently “involved” with UT, and life for UT fans beyond July 25 the date Jessie Scroggins has set to announce his college decision be it USC, Florida or Tennessee.
Then a series of events began to unfold that has re-shaped the quarterback recruiting dynamic. I’ll summarize. Around 11:30 Tuesday morning, I had received a text that quarterback prospect Tommy Rees from Lake Forest, Illinois, who UT had recently offered a scholarship, verbally committed to Notre Dame. I was able to confirm that in one telephone call. Okay.. no big deal . Tommy Rees is not a prospect I thought could come in and contribute right away (redshirt year )... at least that was my opinion. Anyway, another quarterback target off the board.
Then, 20 minutes later I received confirmation from one of my very good contacts that Chase Rettig had indeed just been officially offered a scholarship by Coach Kiffin. The offer to Chase Rettig was something I was fairly certain was going though I wasn’t sure about the timing. It appears to me quite obviously the situation with Jessie Scroggins is not working out in UT’s favor and this quarterback recruiting situation is “moving” quickly. “Unraveling” may be a better choice of words.
So, in a matter of a couple of hours, my entire July 8 update is wiped out. Yes, we should expect things like this to happen with this staff..... But this is different.
For the 6 months of Coach Kiffin's tenure, he and staff have been in the full court press mode when it comes to recruiting. They have been ‘carrying the fight’ for lack of a better term. For the first time, in my opinion, they are really scrambling to secure a commitment from a top-flight quarterback prospect for the 2010 class.
This staff, including the Head Coach, is replete with some of the best recruiters in the country. However, maybe the staff underestimated just how important landing a top-flight quarterback is too many of the high profile offensive prospects interested in coming to UT. Frankly, there is not much positive news to report with UT related to the difference-making wide receivers and offensive lineman (to a lesser extent). Many have said publicly they are waiting to see what quarterback commits to UT before they move forward with UT.
So, with the events of Tuesday, let’s catch our breath, summarize the quarterback situation, and explore what UT’s options are moving forward. Let’s be very clear. In no way am I ruling out Jessie Scroggins committing to UT. It could happen but I don’t think so. It appears less likely given the offer to Chase Rettig in the last 24 hours. The following information is based …. a little on what I know, some on what I think, and the remainder is just plain my opinion on where this is all headed.
Also, we should be prepared for Chase Rettig to spurn UT and announce he is committing to Boston College. It could be that UT just waited too long to offer him a scholarship.
Jessie Scroggins. He has been the clear #1 target on UT's quarterback recruiting board for some time. Now, he has set July 25 as the day he will publicly announce his school of choice. If you have read any of my reports for the last 6 to 8 weeks, I have been consistent in saying he ends up going to college out west and not at UT. I have heard nothing that makes me want to change my mind. I do know that when he was at UT’s Camp in mid-June he was very limited because of a hip injury. That hip injury did not seem to limit him in any way at Southern Cal’s quarterback camp held a few days after the UT camp …. His performance at USC’s camp landed him a scholarship offer from Pete Carroll.
With the offer to Chase Rettig Tuesday, I’m willing to bet the UT staff has a fairly good idea Jessie Scroggins is not coming to UT … just my opinion.
To be fair and balanced, there are still a number of positive signs that UT is still in the picture with Jessie Scroggins (I’m reaching a little here).
UT offers immediate playing time for him as a true freshman. Something the other schools just can’t offer. This is undeniable and easily verified by comparing depth charts; next, UT weathered the media hoopla around him performing well at the USC skills camp and receiving a USC scholarship offer (some around USC’s program thought he would commit on the spot to USC if offered… but he didn’t); and, the beat writers that follow USC’s program are not convinced that Jessie Scroggins will announce for USC… they seem to think UT is right there.
Again, I’m on record of saying he stays out west and I will continue to feel that way.
Chase Rettig. You see prospects like Chase Rettig every year. They have “so-so” performances their junior seasons of high school football and are overlooked (under-evaluated) by the recruiting services. They attend and perform well at these skills camps and their status as a bonafide Division 1 prospect just takes off. In 2010 for quarterbacks, Chase Rettig is that guy. You can almost chart his continued improvement at each and every camp he has attended. He attended the USC Camp and competed against with Jessie Scroggins. In reading reports filed by recruiting analysts watching the event there didn’t seem to be much separation or difference in their performances. Don’t believe me? Read an article published a couple of days ago on ESPN’s College Recruiting site by their Director of High School Recruiting Tom Luginbill. He evaluated Chase Rettig and a number of the 2010 quarterbacks at the Clarkson Academy Quarterback Camp in Maui (yes Maui, Hawaii… why didn’t they have camps like this Maui when I was in high school!). Not to put words in his mouth but it is clear Tom Luginbill believes Chase Rettig is one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the 2010 class. Tom Luginbill knows of what he speaks. He grew up in a football family and was a quarterback in college at Georgia Tech for awhile. I for one place value in his objective opinion of quarterbacks.
With respect to UT, I defer decision on quarterbacks and all prospects for that matter to Coach Kiffin and our staff.
They have a lot more riding on these decisions than I. However, I have stated for some time and for a number of reasons, Chase Rettig makes sense for UT. I need not mention that he is a mid-term enrollee and will be on campus in January for whatever school he decides to attend.
With the offer to Rettig, UT now has its hands full in competing against Boston College for his commitment. Boston College too has an opportunity for him to compete for early playing time. I expect we’ll know something on Chase Rettig and UT /Boston College in fairly short order.
Let’s look at the other quarterbacks on UT’s board quickly.
Nick Lamaison. He is the Quarterback from Mt. San Antonio Junior College in California prominently mentioned with UT back in late May/early June. Since then, Nick Lamaison has entered the witness protecti on program. Very little information has been forthcoming about whether he still figures in UT’s Quarterback plans this fall or not . Consensus is that if he completes an academic requirement needed to be admitted by UT, he will be on campus for the start of fall camp. I do understand that it will actually be close to the end of July/start of fall camp before we’ll know academically whether Nick Lamaison will be academically eligible to attend UT .
There are two , three , maybe even four other quarterback prospects UT is recruiting at some level. Whether UT’s interest is serious or passive is a matter of opinion. I think though each of these prospects is frankly not “top of their list” though this is strictly my opinion. What I mean by that is these are prospects that in all probability would need some seasoning (ie redshirt year) before they could be expected to contribute as a quarterback in the SEC.
Turner Baty, 6”3 215 pounds from St Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tennessee already has one commitment from this high school (Mike Palardy kicking specialist) and is recruiting at least 3 or 4 other prospects attending St. Thomas Aquinas High. This prospect relocated from California to Florida and this will be his first year of competition at St. Aquinas. He is an unknown commodity to some extent. I can tell you he will be quarterbacking one of the premier high school team in the country for this upcoming season. I believe Tennessee as well as Florida and other Division 1 schools are just now beginning their evaluations of this prospect.
Garret Grayson, 6’2” 195 lbs from Heritage High School in Vancouver , Washington. He is another prospect that may bear watching if Chase Rettig doesn’t commit to UT. To be fair, while the prospect is interested in UT I don’t know what UT’s interest level is in this prospect. I’m not sure he is a fit and if Rettig commits to Boston College, that will be 3 west coast quarterback prospects that have spurned UT for other schools. Maybe we should look elsewhere. These west coast kids can fly over a number of schools before he they land at UT.
There is a prospect out of Lassiter High School in the Marietta, Georgia area named Hutson Mason that UT’s pursuit of over the past few months has ran hot and cold. He is a fairly big kid (6’2” 195 lbs), athletic, with a good arm, and he is a pro-style quarterback. He too has been on campus numerous times and met with our staff. Again, I think Scroggins is at the top of our list and then there Rettig and all the others.
Two things would not surprise me if we end up missing on Scroggins and Rettig…. and this is very possible. First, my guess is we take another pass at Barry Brunetti , the dual threat quarterback from Memphis, who is committed now to West Virginia. That is a real possibility and I’m lead to believe he would be open to further discussions with UT.
Second, the staff may elect to wait until the high school football season begins and start evaluating quarterback prospects that are lesser-known prospects that show improvement in their on-field performance from their junior seasons to their senior seasons.
With that being said there is a prospect in Concord, North Carolina that could bear watching. His name is Jeremy Cannon from Concord, North Carolina. He is 6’2” 195 and he missed his entire junior season with a leg injury. As a sophomore, he threw for 38 touchdowns. Again, while he does have interest in UT … I’m not aware UT has shown a lot of interest in him to date. However, USC (that’s Southern California folks) had enough interest in him to invite him to their quarterback camp to compete against Chase Rettig, Jessie Scroggins and other of the best quarterback prospects in the country. Again, it may be a name worth watching if things don’t go well with Chase Rettig or the others.
Though this not the best year for pro-style quarterbacks, it is now clear UT needs to secure a commitment from one of their top 2010 quarterback targets. UT hasn’t gotten a high school quarterback to campus in 3 recruiting classes, our current quarterback play is average at best maybe even suspect is a better word, there is limited depth at the position especially after the 2009 season, and our ability attract the elite/difference maker type wide receivers 3 and even offensive lineman - is going to be limited until UT addresses its quarterback situation.
I fully expect this situation to begin sorting itself out soon. Stay tuned. If the Kiffin era has thought us anything, its there is never a down time when following this football team.'
7/3/09:'X' Says:Typically, around the 4th of July, recruiting really slows down. Coaches head out to spend time with their families and get away from it for a few days. SEC Media days are less than 3 weeks away and fall practice begins a week later. Hard to believe.
My guess is there will not be many slow times of the year the way this staff recruits. This week, UT picked up three more commitments for its 2010 class. In addition, one of the top rated running backs in the country Michael Dyer from Little Rock, Arkansas (see my June 29 for details) and a teammate UT is recruiting (tight end Dakota Mosely) were on campus earlier in the week. You shouldn’t ignore anything that happened this week with respect to recruiting .... and the week isn't even over .
In terms of the commitments a brief note about each , Zac Fulton, the offensive lineman from Illinois, may be the most SEC ready offensive line prospect on UT's their entire offensive line recruiting board.
Michael Palardy, the kicking specialist from St. Aquinas High in Florida, is arguably the top kicking specialist in the Southeast if not the country.
These are two kids that will be on the field in 2010 in some capacity for UT I don't think there is much question about it.
Marquis Pair, the offensive lineman from South Carolina, who committed earlier in the week, is more of a project. He is raw and will need time get stronger and add weight but he is exactly what UT is looking for in an offensive lineman. We should also stay tuned to this one. My guess is the North and South Carolina schools will continue to recruit him very hard.
On Scroggins, I would expect a decision to come down sooner than later. From what I have been told, USC is pressing him for a quick decision. Look at their depth chart. They have all the leverage here. I still don’t believe he commits to UT....but that is just one opinion
6/30/09:'X' Says:Before we talk offensive targets, I want to point out the most positive happening around the UT program in the last couple of weeks. That being, Aaron Ausmus is now the Head of the Strength and Conditioning Program. To be honest, Aaron Ausmus should have been Coach Kiffin's first phone call and first hire after he got the job in December. I do know he was interested in the position early on but that is water under the bridge now. He is here and is working with the team. I'm not an expert on Strength and Conditioning philosophies or programs but I am familiar with the HATCH Training Program which is the strength and conditioning program Aaron Ausmus is installing again at UT. If you reading this and are interested in learning more about the HATCH training philosophy go to www.gaylehatch.com and you will find a treasure trove of information about the HATCH methods.
John Stuckey, UT’s Strength and Conditioning Coach up until the late 1990s, was a disciple of Gayle Hatch. John Stuckey’s strength and condition program was the "true" HATCH Training program. Since John Stuckey left the program back around 2000, I understand a “modified” HATCH Training program has been taught. Its like Coke versus Coke Classic or Diet Coke… just not the same as the real thing.
Guys like Aaron Ausmus, Chris Carlisle, and Tommy Moffett, all renowned strength and conditioning coaches, learned the HATCH method from John Stuckey. Many who have been around the Program through a couple of coaching regimes say the beginning of UT's demise on the football field can be traced to John Stuckey leaving the Program and our strength and conditioning staff implementing a "modified" version of the HATCH Training program. It is great news that Aaron Ausmus is back and our strength and conditioning philosophy is now being re-tooled..
Another interesting note I was told recently was regarding offensive line recruiting. Seems back in the late 1990s/early 2000, there was a philosophical change made to our recruitment of offensive lineman. Seems we moved away from recruiting smaller (relative term here for offensive lineman) more athletic prospects to recruiting more bigger, heavier offensive line prospects. Coach Kiffin's staff has now moved the target back to recruiting the more agile and athletic offensive lineman instead of big kids who can’t play anywhere else but the offensive line.
This again is great news. The news emphasis toward recruiting athletic offensive lineman coupled with changes to our strength and conditioning program should bode well for better offensive line play in the future.
Now let’s look at offensive targets by position.
Quarterback. There is really no reason to discuss the quarterback position=2 0right now. Unless you have been confined to the Basillo household for the last few weeks where soccer is looped on radio and television 24 hours a day, you know that we seem to be waiting on Jessie Scroggins to make a decision on whether he’ll come to UT. All I will say is Chase Rettig makes a lot sense.
Special Teams/Kicking Specialists. While I agree signing a quarterback is a priority for the class and wide receiver or tight end commitments probably don’t start happening until we receive a public commitment from a quarterback, it is my opinion that signing a place kicking specialist who can come in and contribute in 2010 is just as if not more important than a quarterback to this class.
That is the reason why we should pay attention to Mike Palardy, a place kicking specialist from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He maybe the #1 Place Kicking specialist in the country for 2010. He is #1 on UT's board and there is no question about it. This is the caliber of prospect who, if he signs with UT, would compete for either the punting, kick-off, or place kicking jobs (or all three) next season. To be honest, he could compete for all three of those jobs if he was on campus now. Right now, it looks to be a UT /LSU battle. Again, secu ring a commitment/signing from a prospect the caliber of Mike Palardy is just as important as is one from a high -profile quarterback.
Running back. Two weeks ago I wasn’t sure whether running back was a huge priority in the 2010 signing class. Now I'm convinced that it is. Consider Montario Hardesty, your only SEC-tested running back, is graduating; Toney Williams the bright spot of spring practice on the offense is already out for the season with a knee injury; and you have three relatively unproved , but talented, commodities competing for playing time behind Hardesty. Good news here is Eddie Gran's track record and reputation as a running backs coach is unquestioned. Running backs prospects take note of just how many running backs Eddie Gran coached in college that are now playing on Sundays. Plus, Eddie Gran has also been able to play more than one running back at a time and keep them all happy. Can anyone please tell me why it took so long for us to hire Eddie Gran?
Not in any particular order, here are four or five to keep an eye on.
Giovanni Bernard, 5"9" 190 lbs from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale. One of a handful of prospects UT is recruiting from this high school. One of better running back prospects in southern Florida. Miami may be tough to beat but seems like last year we beat them for some kid named Brown...... re member?
Lache Seastrunk, 5’10” 185 lbs from Temple High School, Temple, Texas. Arguably the best running back prospect in the country for 2010 and he does have interest in UT. I think many in Texas believe he is leaving the state to play college football. Auburn seems to be the early leader. Could UT land the best running back in the country two years in a row?
Nicholas Parker, 6'2" 210 lbs from South Panola High School, Batesville, Mississippi. Nationally, Nicholas Parker is a top twenty running back prospect from an area Coach Wilson and Coach Orgeron have plenty of success recruiting. He likes UT. LSU and the Mississippi schools will be tough to beat.
Michael Dyer, 5"9" 205 lbs from Little Christian High School, Arkansas. If Lache Seastrunk commits to Auburn, UT is probably right back in the middle of this recruitment for Michael Dyer. This is another prospect interested in UT that is one of the top two or three running back prospects in the country.
Brandon Gainer, 6'0" 200 lbs from Miami Central High School, Miami Florida. Another top running back prospect from South Florida and UT is firmly in his top 5 schools He is a top 20 national running back recruit that has as much upside as any running back prospect on their board.
In addition to the above national prospects, there are two in state prospects to keep an eye on. UT likes both these prospect s.
Keon Williams, 5'10" 225 lbs from Red Bank High School, Chattanooga. Much like Darian Stone from Clinton, this is a prospect few have heard much about but everyone will know by Thanksgiving. He transferred from North Carolina to Red Bank so he is somewhat under the radar.. right now. He attended camp at UT in early June and coaches loved him. Our coaches want to see him in pads against game competition before extending a scholarship offer.
Orleans Darkwa. 5'11" 205 lbs from Ensworth High School in Nashville area. Attended UT’s skills camp in early June and made a very good accounting of himself. I saw him play last fall and I saw him again before the skills camp. He has spent a good bit of time working on his conditioning and its paying off. He is the classic one cut and go running back Coach Gran and Coach Chaney like. He does not have an offer. However, this is a prospect that could increase his stock with UT once the season begins and if some of the above running back prospects fall off the board.
Offensive Lineman. It would be an understatement to say signing offensive lineman is an area of need. With the defection of so many young offensive lineman during the winter coupled with the graduation of 5 offensive lineman after the 2009 season, they have to restock this position. Right now, UT has one offensive commitment that is Jose Jose , a midterm enrollee from Miami, Florida.
By the time this is posted, I would not be surprised if UT has another offensive line commitment. It bears watching what Zac Fulton, a 6'4-5-ish" 300 lb lineman from Flossmoor High School in Illinois does while he is on campus this week. He may have been the best lineman (offense or defense) that attended UT's one day lineman camp in early June. Held his own against all the elite defensive line prospects he competed against. He comes from good stock. His brother played offensive line at the University of Illinois and is now a member of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
From there, other top offensive line targets are:
James Stone, 6"4" 280 lbs from Maplewood HS in the Nashville area. Huge recruit for a couple of reasons. First, he is best offensive line prospect in the state of Tennessee and he may be the #1 offensive line prospect on their board. He knows he will get every opportunity to play early here. He is looking at all his options though which he should. Many think UT leads for him. Im not sure but they are right there for certain.
TJ Leifheit, 6'7" 300 lbs, Haggard High School, Wilmington, NC. Has been on campus numerous times this spring and the opportunity to play early is a draw. A big, athletic kid who fits the new offensive line profile and our scheme perfectly. The instate Carolina schools and LSU appear to be our main competition.
Chaz Green , 6'6" 290 lbs, Catholic HS in Tampa Florida. Even though both of this prospects’ parents graduated from UT, Knoxville it will be a real trick to get this prospect away from Florida. He has visited UT he seems to have interest in UT. One of a handful of prospects I believe would have a real chance to “significantly contribute” as true freshman if he decides to sign with UT. Right now, I would still say he ends up at Florida; however, if he continues to postpone a public commitment to Florida, I give Tennessee a punchers chance.
Dan Keonig, 6'6" 290 lbs, Cape Coral, Florida. Another big, athletic, fast prospect. Miami likes this prospect an awful lot. Has brother that played collegiate at Oklahoma State. I expect him to visit UT this fall.
Arie Kouandjio, 6'6" 290 lbs from DeMatha HS, Hyattsville, MD. A nationally rated offensive tackle prospect easily one of best twenty offensive tackle prospects in the country. Has offers from most every school on the east coast and our staff really like shim. Likely to visit UT this summer or fall. UT connection is that he is good friends with UT basketball commitment Josh Selby who enrolls in 2010 as well.
Wes Rea, 6'5" 290 lbs Harrison Central HS, Gulfport, MS. Very athletic offensive line prospect. Ranked as the 5th best offensive guard prospect in the country. Kid has future as an offensive lineman or a professional baseball player (90 plus mph fastball as a pitcher as a high school junior). Plan s on visiting UT this summer and again this fall.
Torrain Wilson, 6'4" 290 lbs from Northwestern HS in Miami Florida. Good news is I believe he is leaving Florida to play his college football. Bad news is I think he likely ends up at Michigan. UT is making a push though. This is one you would like to have because I understand he is likely a mid-termer.
Marquis Pair, 6'6" 265 lbs, Sumter HS, Sumter, SC. Doesn’t have a UT offer but really put himself into consideration for one with his performance at UT's lineman camp in early June. He fits the profile perfectly. Big, athletic prospect who has the frame to add bulk/muscle.
Like Pair, in-state lineman Cammeron Clemmons, Zak Tait (Knox Catholic), and Tim McAdoo (Murfreesboro Oakland), do not have offers but there status could change. I think UT wants to see how they fare with a couple of the above offensive line prospects they have rated a bit higher than the in-state kids. McAdoo is an accomplished defensive line prospect that projects to play an offensive guard in college. Clemmons is a diamond in the rough.
There are also 3 to 4 offensive line prospects committed to other schools UT simply is not giving up on. As I said, this staff doesn’t put much stock in prospects’ commitments to other schools as it really doesn’t matter to them. We’ll end up signing 6 or 7 prospects here that can help early.20
Tight Ends. Look for UT to be selective here. They have fairly good depth here but to be honest they really don’t have a difference maker at this position on campus... well Aaron Douglas is but his home is now at offensive tackle. Unless they can sign and difference maker, I could see them may not signing a tight end in this class.
The top two tight end prospects on their board are probably headed to other destinations. Brian Vogler, a 6'7" 250 prospect from Columbus, Georgia will likely choose between Florida or Alabama even though he has many connections to UT and to Knoxville. Harrison Jones is the best tight end prospect in the state of Tennessee but is likely headed to Alabama where is brother is an offensive lineman.
Here are two or three tight end prospect UT continues to evaluate. None of the prospects below have offers yet. With respect to most of the tight end prospects UT has offered scholarships to, I just don’t see any of those prospects leaving their home states to attend UT.
Jordan Black, 6'4" 250 lbs from Lowndes HS in Valdosta camped at UT in early June and the coaches really like him; however, I think his destination may ultimately be on the offensive or defensive line in college and not at tight end.
Tennessee could do a lot worse than Tyler Robinson 6'4" 245 lbs from Alcoa. He is athletic enough to play offense or defense in college and with his frame has the ability to add weight. Lots of interest in this prospect from ACC and other SEC schools.
One to watch with UT is Kendall Montgomery a 6'5" 235 lb tight end prospect from Monsignor Pace High School in Opa Locka, Florida. This is a prospect that offers the type of athleticism UT is looking for in tight end. Didn’t camp at UT but has elevated his standing with excellent performances at other skill camps in both Florida and Oklahoma.
Wide Receivers. It’s impossible to list only 4 or 5 of the wide receiver prospects UT is recruiting. Simply put, many of the better wide receivers prospects in the Southeast and the United States have interest legitimate interest in UT. I wouldn’t expect much in the way of commitments from any of these elite wide receiver prospects until UT quarterback recruiting sorts itself out. Let’s look at a few prospects UT is involved with.
Kyle Prater, 6'5" 210 lbs, Provisic High School, Hillside, IL. Rated as the 3rd best wide receiver prospect in the country. This kid is emerging as a top tar get on UT's wide receiver list. Plans to visit campus unofficially in July. Even if he doesn’t make it in this summer, I anticipate that he will be back on campus this fall. He possesses a combination of size and speed we don’t have on campus right now at the wide receiver position.
Matt Milton, 6"6" 195 lbs, Mascoutah, IL. An athletic freak. 4.5 forty with 33" vertical leap. Camped at UT. Staff has been on this prospect since early February . This is the one wide receiver prospect I could see committing to UT over the summer whether or not we receive a QB commitment.
Markieth Ambles, 6'2" 185 lbs from McDonough, GA. Another nationally rated wide receiver who in all probability will choose between UT, Alabama, and Florida. This is a prospect that has publicly stated he is watching to see what happens with UT's quarterback situation before he makes a decision on where to attend college. He is also a prospect who has been on campus numerous times this spring and camped at UT in June.
Trovon Reed, 6'0" 175 lbs from Thibodaux HS in Thibodaux, LA. Legitimate 4.4 forty wide receiver/slot type who is a top 15 prospect in the country. He'll be hard to pry away from LSU but Frank Wilson and Ed Orgeron are recruiting him so I give UT a shot here. They got him to camp which many didn’t expect to happen.
Joshua Reece, 6'1" 185 lbs from Miami Central HS, Miami. Teammate of UT running back target Brandon Gainer. One of the state of Florida's best wide receiver prospects.
James Louis. 5'11" 185 lbs from DelRay Beach, Florida. Probably one of most athletic wide receiver/athlete type prospects UT is recruiting. Watching his tape he just flat out runs away from people. We need more kids with speed like his on this team.
Quinton Dunbar, 6'3" 175 lbs from Booker T. Washington HS in Miami. Another one of the best wide receiver prospects from the state of Florida interested in UT. Regardless of whether he commits to another school over the summer, I expect this prospect to give UT a very long look. Plays for arguably one of top high school teams in the country. Has 4 or 5 other teammates that are high Division 1 prospects.
There are two wide receiver prospects from Pahokee High School UT is recruiting. Those are Chris Dunkley and De'Joshua Johnson. Both have either committed to other schools or are strongly considering doing so. Doesn’t matter really. I expect both to take official visits to UT this fall or winter. This staff will simply not back off kids they believe are difference ma kers which both of these kids have the potential to be.
I saw where UT defensive tackle target Evan Hailes recently committed to Penn State. At one time, he was probably at the top of UT's defensive tackle board. NOTE TO VOL FANS .. Don’t sweat this one. NOTE TO PROSPECTS..... If you talk to Internet beat reporters, just be aware coaches read your comments. Heck, they read this stuff. If you are concerned about one of your top schools, who already has woefully thin defensive line corps, loading up this year and next on defensive tackle prospects, you may be best served talking to the coach recruiting you privately instead of expressing your concern through media... this give the appearance that one may be a bit afraid of competition.... I understand we may have backed off a little in our pursuit of this particular prospect. Can’t be afraid to compete and come to UT.
Just remember on July 1 of 2008 prospects like Marsaulos Teague, Bryce Brown, Janzen Jackson, NuKeese Richardson, Nyshier Oliver were committed to or headed to other schools to play their college football. The new staff didnt even get involved with these kids (reinvolved with Teague and Oliver) until December 2008 or January 2009. All these true freshman will contribute significantly for UT this fall.
Just my thoughts ………..
HAPPY 4TH/ God Bless America!
6/26/09:'X' Says:Look at the USC QB Depth Chart. Even if Mustain doesn’t make it and only 1 of the others is a senior to be Scroggins is looking up at 4 guys in front of him...
1. Aaron Corp QB So.
2. Matt Barkley QB Fr.
3. Garrett Green QB Sr.
4. John Manoogian QB Fr.
5. Chris McCaffery QB So.
6. Mitch Mustain QB Jr.
Barkley will probably win the job as a true freshman.... People keep sleeping on Chase Rettig. My gosh.. USC didn’t invite him to their camp to fill out their dance card. This kid has a lot of ability and potential...
I will have an update for you Monday on offensive the top five or ten kids by position on offense we are recruiting the hardest.
6/22/09:'X' Says:Here are some of my general observations from the weekends pivotal camp @ UT:
Hats off to Eddie Gran for getting all the Florida talent not only interested in UT but getting a boatload of those kids on campus;
The Pahokee kids , it was obvious, were just in another league in terms of their athleticism compared to kids at camp... hands down; They must be unbelievable in their division in Florida. Incredible amount of talent on one high school team. And really well coached as to boot.
Defensive back Nikell Robey from Frostproof, Fla was probably the most impressive non-lineman at camp. Excellent athlete, excellent cover skills... really caught the attention of our staff... Again, this kid is another that got to camp because of Eddie Gran. See a pattern here?
UT puts itself flat out in the mix for a defensive end prospect from the Raleigh NC area named FreShaud Hunter. Thought to be a NC State lock but Coach O got the kid and his family over to camp and he flat out loved it here;
Anthony Johnson, 2011 UT commit from O Perry High School in New Orleans, Louisiana, was one of most impressive defensive lineman at camp... He blew some of the coaches away with his play. Kid loves UT and loves Coach O;
A defensive lineman from the Atlanta area named Deric Scott ( Carver High School) 6-foot-3 255 lbs, was a relative unknown before camp but really open eyes with his camp performance. Don't know if he ha s offer yet but my source felt like he would get one. Remember his name. Former teammate of UT true freshman Darren Myles and more importantly is coached by Darren Myles' father who loves UT.
Jessie Scroggins flat out impressed the staff and did nothing but elevate his stock with our staff! I heard , though I don't or haven't been able to confirm, that he wasn’t as impressed with Florida as he was with UT... We'll see. This week is critical as he camps at USC .
Again all the Pahokee kids especially the 3 that are seniors this year (DeJoshua Johnson (WR); Richard Ash (DL); and, Merrill Noel (DB) left no doubts about their athleticism and football skills.
Hope you have a great day. Check back later for my big board on offensive recruits.
6/18/09:'X' Says:Here is an early summer look at a number of the prospects UT is targeting... A cheat sheet if you will. I have provided only a handful of the top prospects UT is pursuing at the defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, and defensive back (corner and safety) positions. No surprises here really. Most of the kids have prominently mentioned UT as one of their favorite schools. By no means are these lists all inclusive. To be sure, UT is recruiting many more prospects at each of these positions. What I have provided is a thumbnail description of a few of the higher profile kids. Enjoy…
Defensive Tackles… Here are the top five still on their list. Note UT already has three verbal commitments from defensive tackle prospects Patrick Harris, Jonathan Brown and Rissean Broussard. Harris and Brown are JUCOs. Broussard is a high schooler from Louisiana. My thoughts .. we’ll take one more defensive tackle two if the right two wanted to come to UT.
Evan Hailes, 6'1" 305 lbs, Oscar Smith HS, Chesapeake, VA.
Planning to be on campus for an unofficial visit between now and the end of June. Most recruiting analysts believe UT is the team to beat for Evan Hailes. I think this is a commitment this staff would really like to wrap up during his visit to campus. Virginia Tech and maybe Alabama rep resent UT’s main competition for this prospect. He is a former high school teammate of UT freshman to be Jerod Askew.
Kelcy Quarles, 6"4" 260 lbs, Greenwood HS, Greenwood SC
Number 1 defensive tackle prospect in the country and is currently a South Carolina commitment. Prospect loves UT. After O&W game many felt he was on the verge on changing his commitment to UT. Dad wants kid to go to South Carolina so this will get interesting . He is also planning to attend camp at UT. I don’t think he will change his commitment anytime soon but I do not count UT out of this one by any stretch.
Richard Ash, 6'4" 260 lbs, Pahokee HS, Pahokee , FL
I know UT really likes this prospect as he could conceivably line up as a defensive end as well. If he makes it to campus, UT is a legitimate player for his commitment.=2 0If not, I will still think Florida is the team to beat. This is the type of prospect that can play for anyone in the country
George Uko, Chino (CA) Don Lugo High School, California. 6’4”280 lbs. 4-star prospect. Everybody on the west coast wants this kid. He has an offer from UT and attended camp at UT a couple of weeks ago.
Sharrif Floyd, Philadelphia, PA George Washington High School. (6-3, 294 pounds). Probably the #1 defensive prospect tackle prospect in the Northeast so my guess is it will be difficult to pull him away from Penn State, Michigan or Notre Dame… but he is going to visit campus in the next few weeks
Defensive Ends… UT is in on what I consider some of the “best of the best” defensive end prospects in the country in my opinion… Consider we already have two very good defensive end commitments in Jacquez Smith and JC Copeland. If UT is fortunate to hold on to its two commitments and then sign any two of the following five defensive end prospects UT would have arguably the best haul of defensive end signees in the country for 2010.
JR “Ego” Ferguson. Strongside Defensive End from St. John's Catholic Prep in Frederick, Maryland. 6’3”270 pounds. Rated as the Nations’ 14TH best player by Rivals. Not 14th best defensive end.. 14th best overall player. Transferring to Hargrave Military Academy for his senior year to play against better competition and focus on academics. Many of the so-called national experts think in the end he will end up at UT.
Brandon Willis, Strongside Defensive End from Brynes High School, Duncan South Carolina. 6’4” 250 pounds. . Rated as the Nations’ 21st best player by Rivals. Again, Not 21st best defensive end.. 21st best overall player. Likes UT.. excelled at camp here a few weeks ago. Florida State will be tough to beat here.
Corey Miller, Weak side Defensive End from Brynes High School, Duncan South Carolina. 6’4” 230 pounds. Teammate of Brandon Willis. Father is ex-NFL formerly of the Giants I believe. It’s down to three schools for this kid and Tennessee is one of the three. Father20really likes UT. North Carolina maybe our stiffest competition here.
TJ Stripling, Weak side Defensive End from South Dekalb High School in Decatur, Georgia. 6”6” 220 a freak of an athlete. One of Monte’s favorite recruits. At his size he runs a 4.6. /40. Florida State, Georgia, Michigan among others are after this prospect.
Garrison Smith Strongside Defensive End from Westlake High School, Atlanta Georgia. 6’2” 230 pounds. One of top defensive end prospects in the state of Georgia along with TJ Stripling. I think he’ll be hard to pry out of Georgia but he plans on visiting UT in the future.
Linebackers. This is the area I’m most concerned about on the defensive side of the ball and interestingly this is an area where we seem to still have work to do. Note we already have two commitments for next year Ralph Williams from St. Gulliver Prep , Florida and Bruce Irvin the JUCO prospect from California. Both have grades to get in order and that concerns me.
I can tell you the Number 1 prospect on their linebacker board is Josh Shirley a 6’3” 215 pound outside linebacker from Henry Kaiser High School in Fontana, California. I'm not in to promoting ESPN at all. However, if you have time go to the ESPN College Football Recruiting Site, search for Josh Shirley, pull up his profile, and watch his tape. You’ll see why he is our #1 linebacker target. He consistently mentions UT as one of his top schools. USC likes him an awful lot also. Tough pull out of California but the kid has said he has an interest in leaving California.
CJ Mosely, Theodore High School, Theodore, Alabama. 6’2 215 pounds. Not as highly rated as Josh Shirley but still very athletic. Auburn is the team to beat but he actually has been at UT a couple of times this spring and summer.
This is a good year for linebackers in the state of Tennessee. Tennessee is recruiting Avery Williamson (6’2” 225 lbs) from Milan as an OLB/DE; Fred Harvey an inside linebacker (5’11” 210 lbs) from Memphis White Station; and , Jonathan Brown (6 ’1” 225 pounds) from Christian Brothers High School in Memphis. It is my understanding UT hasn’t extended offers to any of these three in-state linebacker prospects yet. These three prospects all have interest from SEC schools.
Defensive Backs. Again, if UT is able to close on any three or four of the following prospects you could argue they would have just as good of a defensive back haul as any school in the country
Dietrich Riley, 6’1” 200 pounds from St. Francis High School in LaCanada , California. One of top safety prospects in California and is wanted by all Pac 10 schools. Recently visited UT. Not sure leads but I expect him back this fall for an official visit.
Dion Bailey, 6’1 200 pounds from Fontana High School in Fontana, California. Teammate of UT quarterback target Jessie Scroggins and some feel they want to play in college together. Another top safety prospect in California. Is visiting UT in the next20few weeks.
Kacy Rogers, Jr. 6’2” 185 pound defensive back prospect from Southlake High School , Texas. Runs the 40 in 4.45. Can go anywhere in the country to play college football. Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and others all want this prospect. He has ties to UT
His father Kacy Rogers played football at UT. Both the father and mot her graduated from UT. He likes UT but will probably visit a number of schools before he makes any kind of decision.
Demar Dorsey. Cornerback from Boyd Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes (FL). 6-foot-1, 175 lbs and runs a 4.3 forty. Kind of committed to Florida but still looking at other schools. I expect him and Florida to part ways at some point. Eddie Gran has done a very good job of getting Tennessee involved with this prospect.
Jay Hughes. 5-foot-11 Wt: 175 lbs cornerback prospect from Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg (MS). Runs a 4.5 forty.
< SPAN style="COLOR: black">Has many ties to UT. Father coached with Frank Wilson and Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss. Considers both family. Good solid prospect who could also excel on special teams.
Dale Trimble, Cornerback from Gadsden City High School, Gadsen, Alabama. 5’10” 180 pounds and runs a 4.5 forty. UT is in his top three. If Alabama wants him, I think he goes to Alabama though he consistently mentions UT as one of his favorite schools.
Jonathan Mincy, Cornerback from Southwest Dekalb High School in Decatur, Georgia. 5-foot-10 Wt: 170 lbs and runs a 4.4
Forty. Likes UT a lot and some say UT leads for his services. I still think Georgia will be tough to beat. LSU is involved but I think its UT or Georgia
Jonathan Fulton. Cornerback prospect from Manning High School in Manning, South Carolina. 6-foot-1. Wt: 180 lbs. and runs a 4.5 forty. I think this comes down to UT, Clemson, or South Carolina. A physically gifted prospect who really likes UT.
Cody Riggs, Cornerback prospect from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. 5’10” 170 pounds. Brother of former Vol Gerald Riggs. Has interest from all the major schools. On campus this week for camp.
LeMarcus Joyner, 5’8” 170 pounds from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Teammate of Cody Riggs and this may be the best defensive back prospect in the state of Florida. A bonafide 5 star prospect. Florida State has been long thought to be his leader; however, he has been to UT multiple times this spring. Whether he ends up at UT I’m not sure but UT will be a player in his recruitment for sure. Eric Berry type player
Tyler Mathieu, Cornerback prospect from St. Augustine High School in Louisiana. 5’10” 175 pounds. This prospect was completely under the radar until he had an exceptional showing at the UT skills camp back in early June. He doesn't have an offer yet but I expect him to receive one soon.
Desmond Brown, Strong safety/athlete from Cherokee County High School in Centre, Alabama. This is a prospect who popped up on UT’s radar after a strong showing at the UT skills camp. Fast with a big frame. He could move to a linebacker position in college. Appears to favor UT at least at this juncture.
I will have a cheat sheet for the offensive side next week.
Gotta get to Camp!
6/16/09:'X' Says:Now....Onto the tonybasilio.com 'X'-CLUSIVE:
Did you ever think Nic Montana and Zack Lee would be key factors in UT’s recruitment of Quarterbacks? Me neither. However, decisions made by both of these prospects over the last week have changed the dynamic around UT’s search to land a high profile 2010 quarterback. I will explain below.
The quarterback recruiting derby has seemingly captivated the entire Big Orange fan base. Everyone I have spoken of late wants to quickly move from talking recruiting in general terms to specifically what is happening with respect to Quarterback recruiting. So if you are really in to living and dying with our quest to land a quarterback, the next couple of weeks will be worth watching closely. Here is what I can tell you.
Right now, it appears there are 2 legitimate high school targets the UT staff has set its sights on. The two targets are Jessie Scroggins from Lakewood High School California; and, Chase Rettig from San Clemente High School, California.
While everyone has been enamored of late with Barry Brunetti (Memphis University High School , Memphis) after his performance at UT’s camp a couple of weeks ago, I just never really saw the match with our scheme. More on Brunetti later. Let’s talk about Jessie Scroggins and Chase Rettig.
Jessie Scroggins. Though no one has or would tell me this directly, it is my opinion target #1; #1a; and 1b is Jessie Scroggins. The recruiting dynamic with Jessie Scroggins has changed significantly with him and it really had nothing to do with UT at all.
For the longest time I had been told Jessie Scroggins would stay on the west coast and was likely headed to the University of Washington. He may still be for all I know. Washington made a lot of sense for him. There, he would be the face of their new program; he would have a chance for immediate playing time; he would be reunited with a number of his former high school teammates who signed with University of Washington last year; he could learn under one of the best young head coaches in the business, Steve Sarkisian; and lastly he would be playing in a pro style offense which best fits his skill set.
I thought all along Jake Heaps would spurn the University of Washington and commit to Brigham Young University as he did. When Jake Heaps did in fact publicly commit to BYU, it appears Washington did not like the signals being received from the Scroggins camp relative to his willingness to make quick commitment to Washington. Washington had an average at best 2009 recruiting class and it is my opinion they felt like they needed to land a “name” quarterback to rev up their 2010 recruiting class.
So what does Washington do? Last week, they take a commitment from a “name” quarterback prospect in Nic Montana…. a quarterback prospect UT showed very little interest in. This one reeks of a knee-jerk reaction and it may in fact be of benefit to UT. Those around UT’s Program felt like Nic Montana was a good prospect not a great prospect and would need time to develop into a pro –style quarterback meaning he would probably require a year as a redshirt.
I had also been told the Scroggins camp had been somewhat enamored with LSU. Maybe not to the extent of other schools he is considering, but he did or does have an interest in visiting LSU. LSU didn’t waste time in their search for a 2010 high school quarterback. Over the weekend, LSU received a commitment from 4-star quarterback prospect Zack Lee from the Houston, Texas area. LSU already had a fairly deep quarterback depth chart so I don’t see LSU being a major player moving forward in Jessie Scroggins’ recruitment.
Though both of these schools will continue to recruit Scroggins and he’ll say he is not afraid of the competition or the depth chart at either school, my guess is his recruiting dynamic has now changed because of these recent quarterback commitments for Washington and LSU. Now, the battle for Jessie Scroggins is shaping up to be a UT vs. Florida battle or a Kiffin vs. Meyer for Jessie Scroggins. It should get interesting. As I said above, the next couple of weeks are a key in his recruitment. He is camping in Gainesville today and tomorrow, he will be at UT Thursday through part of the weekend, and next week he attend a skills camp at Southern California. This could really get interesting if Southern California offers Jessie Scroggins a scholarship (don’t personally see him sitting behind 3, 5-star quarterbacks at USC though).
Jessie Scroggins’ family has ties to middle and west Tennessee. I understand some of those in his camp really like UT and the prospect appears to have legitimate interest in UT. Glance at the quarterback depth chart here and it is clear he has the opportunity he can play early in his college career.
At Florida, it is also clear John Brantley is the heir-apparent to Tim Tebow. Jessie Scroggins would likely to sit for a couple of years before he would see meaningful playing time. However, I’m sure Florida will be telling him and his family he’ll get hit more than a piñata at an eight year olds birthday party playing behind UT’s rebuilt offensive line for a couple of years. Florida is also telling him that after Tebow leaves they are changing their offensive scheme to a pro-style system…. Go figure.
I’m not saying UT is the leader for Jessie Scroggins because who knows how these kids think and ultimately arrive at their decisions. What I am saying though is one month ago I was sure he wasn’t coming to UT. Now, I’m not so sure that he doesn’t end up at UT.
Chase Rettig. To be honest with everyone, I’m probably more intrigued by Chase Rettig than I am with Jessie Scroggins. If you look at video on this prospect, it’s very hard to find fault with his mechanics. He has smooth throwing motion are and seems to make all the throws effortlessly. I did not have an opportunity to watch him workout and throw when he was in Knoxville a couple of weeks ago; however, he did impress a couple of on-lookers who know much more about evaluating quarterbacks than I. I do know our coaches were really impressed with him.
He is a fairly big kid (6’3” 205 lbs) and here is another key in my opinion he is on track to graduate in December and be on campus in January. We could do a lot worse than Chase Rettig. He doesn’t have an offer from UT right now. That could change soon. If he receives an offer, I could see him committing to UT.
So with all this action going on with high school quarterbacks, where does that leave UT with QB prospect Nick Lamaison. Remember him? He is the Junior College Quarterback prospect from California who, if admitted to school, is eligible for competition this fall. UT has him in a holding pattern right now. I don’t think you see anything made public about UT and Nick Lamaison until UT figures out where it stands with the high school quarterbacks (specifically Jessie Scroggins). They don’t want to make any noise right now that could potentially jeopardize their standing with Jessie Scroggins…. even though if Lamaison doesn’t sign with UT we have two scholarships QBs on campus headed into fall practice. That seems to be how big they think getting a commitment from Jessie Scroggins is.
My thought on Barry Brunetti: I understand he is committed to West Virginia and actually the offense West Virginia runs is a good fit for his skill set. He camped at UT and tried to sell himself as a pro style quarterback prospect when most all of his high school quarterbacking experience is in a spread system. He is an excellent prospect for sure but I don’t think he fit what our coaches are looking for in a quarterback. Further, I ‘m certain he knew he was probably the number three prospect on our list behind Scroggins and Rettig.
UT continues to be placing itself in good position with many of the highest profile defensive end and defensive back prospects. It‘s my opinion, UT will end up have to make a few tough calls resulting in away a recruit or two because of the numbers situation. Good shape to be in most years but not when you are trying to restock your depth charts.
There are seemingly an increasing number of high profile prospects interested in Tennessee. Many of these prospects have been proclaimed to be “locks” to go to other schools. Consider prospects like LeMarcus Joyner, defensive back (thought to be headed to FSU); Chaz Green, and Torrian Wilson offensive lineman (thought to be headed to Florida and Michigan, respectively); Brandon Willis, defensive end (camped at UT and thought to be headed to Florida State). The longer these prospects prolong their recruitment (don’t commit to another school) .. The more I like UT’s chances with each one. UT has their attention and I really think many of the higher profile kids want to see the on-field product before they take the next step with UT.
I remember a year ago it was a good sign recruiting was going well when UT was mentioned in the same breath by a prospect with Florida and /or Georgia. Funny how 12 months can make a difference. Now UT is regularly mentioned in the same breath by prospects with schools like USC, Florida, Texas, Ohio State. This is exactly the schools UT should always be competing against for recruits.
We should all temper our expectations. UT has well over 200 scholarship offers out. UT can’t sign them all. There will be a disappointment or two probably more along the way…. BUT this new staff … this new energy around the program is infectious. Things are completely headed in the right direction.
As I have stated time and again, UT will have a very good recruiting class in 2010. However, their 2011 recruiting class will be better... much better. While 18 or 19 months away from the 2011 signing day, UT has targeted and already offered scholarships to many of the high profile 2011 prospects.
Finally, again, looks like the recruiting machine is rolling.
6/8/09:'X' Says:It’s Oregeron - 2 - Football Operations Staff 0
Now 'X' elaborates as only he can exclusively @ Tonybasilio.com
'First Smith now Gonella... common thread both had differences with O. Smith about the Strength and Conditioning Program. Gonella about the way the program dealt with coaches and recruits at the high school level.. Guess what ... both are history.
Coach O is terribly passionate about one thing.... winning football games ...
O is not a bad person ... people adore him ... just very focused and very driven all the good ones are
It is amazing what O has done in 6 months changing the landscape of the Program's perception among in-state high school coaches. There is still work to do fences to mend with a number of the in state programs that have been neglected for years and years under the former regime but they early results are very encouraging. O is beginning to win the trust of the high school coaches in this state. He wasn't going to let anything get in his way of doing that, including Gonella.
I should say it again they trust Oregeron. They trust he is going to shoot straight with them and that he won’t forget about them either... What a novel concept ... he has given them a number of ways to get in contact with him....
All I can elaborate on.. more will come out in next week or so......'
6/3/09:'X' Says:CAMP NOTES - MONDAY JUNE 1
Had the opportunity to attend the first day of UT’s Summer Football Camp. Unfortunately, my schedule prevented me from staying for the afternoon session. Here are my observations on what I saw during the morning session.
First, it was warm. I know its June what did I expect right. The problem was all the kids (around 150 to 200 approximately) had on name tags and within an hour or so with the heat and intensity of the drills the sweat just completely wiped out their name tags so I didn’t get all the names I wanted to for my notes.
The excitement/intensity level was no different if not higher than the spring practices I attended. The kids responded to the enthusiasm from the Coaches.
Coach Orgeron is clearly in his element in this kind of setting. Teaching, instructing, encouraging. Very interesting to see how some of these young men responded to him. You could hear Coach Orgeron above all others barking out instructions all morning.
I have never seen the intensity level at a UT Summer Camp like I witnessed … never.
I have been present at UT camps before where UT considered itself fortunate if two or three SEC caliber lineman showed up. Today, SEC Caliber talent was all over the place. Flat out impressive.
Two things are clear. First, as long as this core coaching staff remains intact the talent and depth of our offensive and defensive lines will be re-built in fairly short order. Second, in my opinion, we are now recruiting, at least on the defensive line, from a position of leverage. That is, we have so many impressive defensive line prospects interested in coming to UT, I feel confident we'll end up have to turn away a prospect or two simply because we won’t have room numbers-wise for them.
The drills were very spirited and the coaches really pushed the kids. No pads of course but again the drills were very competitive.
Here are a few on my observations on attendees
First, there was so much going on I’m sure I will miss something of importance but I really thought a couple of the in state lineman offensive lineman Zak Tait and Cammeron Clemmons made a very good accounting of themselves.
James Stone, offensive lineman from Nashville Maplewood, was in attendance and participated in drills. He got off to a slow start in the morning session but I understand he got much better as the day wore on. Regardless, James Stone remains at the top of UT's offensive line board no doubt about it.
The most impressive offensive lineman that participated in drills was Zac Fulton from Illinois. He looked to be about 6"4-5"-ish and around 300 lbs. In individual drills, he more than held his own against the best defensive lineman on the field.. I’d be surprised if he didn’t leave camp with an offer in hand. He comes from good blood lines. His brother started on the offensive line for the University of Illinois and is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I though Tim McAdoo, defensive tackle prospect, from Murfreesboro Oakland was impressive. He doesn’t have a UT offer and I don’t know that he’ll get one. He is a very talented kid though.
UT commitments Jacquez Smith and JC Copeland were as good as advertised. To be honest, I thought taking a commitment from JC Copeland may have been a bit of a reach. After watching him yesterday, I can say was completely wrong. He is fast, explosive, and athletic. I’d be surprised if Copeland, before he leaves UT, doesn’t end up as a defensive tackle. He looks to have the build to add weight . I’d also be surprised if a number of other schools don’t really ratchet up their pursuit of this kid. He can play.
The two defensive end prospects Bryn es High in South Carolina Brandon Willis and Corey Miller were more impressive than I expected. Both were virtually untouchable during individual drills. If they weren’t the most impressive two prospects at the Camp, both were easily in the discussion. The thing I noticed about Miller, Willis, Jacquez Smith and even JC Copeland those kids already have SEC bodies.
I think Corey Miller really likes UT. I continue to get that impression. The Willis kid is a bit more open to evaluating many other schools right now. We’ll be involved with both until signing day is my guess.
I found it encouraging that George Uko, a defensive tackle prospect from Chino California, was at camp. He has a scholarship offer from UT and has more than a casual interest… obviously. He was an impressive looking athlete though I didn’t see him participate in a lot of the drills.
Another really good looking prospect was Curtis Virges a defensive tackle from West Point, Mississippi. He impressed me in the limited time I had to watch him. He was another kid who was competing for an offer yesterday. He was sure a very impressive looking athlete.
TJ Stripling, a defensive end prospect from Georgia, may have been the most athletic prospect at the Camp. Big, athletic prospect that won most every drill I watched him participate in. He is another one who c an go anywhere in the country to play football. He also appears to have legitimate interest in UT.
I always think I have a grasp on most of the “names” our staff has an interest in. However, there always seems to be prospects you have never heard of before that show up at Camp and impress. Two did for certain yesterday. The first is Jordan Black, a 6’2-3” ish 240 pound looking defensive line /tight end prospect. Though a bit undersized for a defensive tackle, he more than held his own in virtually every drill he participated in. It was obvious the coaches really liked his effort.
The other prospect was Marquis Pair (or Pare) a big (6’4-5”ish) , lanky looking offensive tackle prospect from South Carolina. Very few of the people I talked to at Camp knew much about him until about mid –morning. By then , he had everyone’s attention.
I think I saw Memphis offensive lineman OC Brown at the camp (name tag issues) but I didn’t observe him participating in any drills… he was one I missed that I was really interested in watching....
Those were the highlight s of Monday. Wish you could have been there.
5/29/09:'X' Says:Its June, T-minus 100 days away from Western Kentucky. Foolishly, I thought I would be able to catch my breath during the month of May. Maybe get away from following recruiting for a couple of days... Honestly , I have been able to do that this time of the year that is in years gone by.
I was wrong though. The month of May brought hundreds of UT coach staff sightings - cameras in tow - from all across the country, 60 plus new offers were extended in May alone, and 5 brand new, 2010 football commitments. Geesh....
So now May evaluations are complete. Coaches are off the road back on campus. What is in store for us recruiting junkies now? To be honest, I’m looking toward the month of June much like my daughter looks forward to tearing into one present after another on Christmas morning. June brings Summer Camp.
Summer camps in years past have been fairly benign events. Sure, once in awhile, you'll get a high profile player of two participate in a summer camp or take an unofficial visit to campus. Frankly, there was not much recruiting news that came from UT during the summers unless it was bad news (remember some of the misses last summer when Alex Bullard choose to commit to Notre Dame and Stafon Lowe choosing to commit to LSU). Sure, UT would pick up a commitment or two but there never was much fanfare with these camps. I feel confident in saying this round of June camps, directed by this new staff, will be another in the series of high energy events we’ve been treated to in the past 7 months.
My point of reference is how the staff was able to pull a top 10 ranked 2009 signing class together in a matter of weeks; how they have continued to add quality players to the 2009 class; the “ never take no as an answer” approach they've taken to 2010 and 2011 recruiting; and, the pace at which they attacked the Spring Evaluation period. I'm going on record and may be stating the obvious here but I expect the same type of hype and frenzy that has surrounded the first 7 months of Lane Kiffin’s time at UT to occur during the Summer Camps.
So here we go… Below is the Summer Camp Schedule. No secrets here. You can find the same schedule at www. utsports.com.
2009 FOOTBALL CAMP DATES
June 1: OL/DL Camp (grades 9-12)
June 2: Skill Camp (Grades 9-12)
June 3: Kicking Camp (Grades 9-12)
June 15-16: Youth Camp (ages 7-12)
June 18-20: Individualized Instruction Camp (ages 13 - Senior to be)
If my information is accurate and I believe it to be so, these camps will be some of the most well attended and most closely monitored my media and the UT fan base in memory. By “well- attended”, I mean many of the most-talented high school prospects in the state of Tennessee, a representative number of the most highly rated prospects in the Southeast and, &n ;a handful of the elite national prospects are planning on attending some event on campus during June.
As I mentioned above, the Spring Evaluation period culminated with 4 commitments at the end of last week. To be honest, I would expect about the same, if not more, by the end of June.
I don’t expect 50 or 60 scholarship offers to be extended like during the Spring Evaluations; however, I expect a select number of offers to be extended made based upon a prospect’s camp performance.
A number of my contacts have sent me their “list” of prospects attending the various UT camps. I have compared these lists to mine…. added a few names and removed a few based upon a last minute changes in plans.
If you want many more “names”, I imagine you can go to any of the UT message boards, troll around, and find fairly accurate lists. These lists are fluid and change all the time.
What Im going to provide you is based on what I know or have been told are some things to keep an eye on during these Camps. I won’t give you the name of every attendee but I will give you names of prospects to pay attention to…. I will elaborate on “pay attention to” later….
Personally, Im eager to see: How many of the QB prospects I have been told are coming to Camp show up. Also, if any of the QB prospects, leave with scholarship offers in hand; how the in state offensive /defensive line prospects perform during camps and how many receive scholarship offers; and, how many of the "high profile" 2010 prospects, who said they are attending camp, actually show up.
Some of these high-profile prospects may show up but not participate in camp. That’s okay. The mere fact that we are getting some of the best of the best on campus, at their own expense, in June is a step in the right direction.
So let’s get started……
Here are a few of the invited QB prospects attending Camp at UT. There are more QB prospects participating than the ones I mention to be sure. These are the ones Im paying attention to.
Stephen Curtis, 6'3" 220 lbs, Sumter HS, Sumter, SC
Jesse Scroggins, 6"3" 190 lbs, Lakewood HS, Lakewood, CA
This kid is either #1 or #1a on most Vols' QB wish list. He likes UT. I still maintain he doesn’t end up at UT
Blake Bortles, 6"4" 230 lbs, Olivedo HS, Olivedo, FL
Chase Rettig, 6"3" 205 lbs, San Clemente HS, San Clemente, CA
This prospect has as impressive a list of schools interested in him than any QB prospect on UT’s Board
Steve Kaiser, 6"3" 205 lbs, DeSmet, St. Louis, Mo
This prospect has impressed staff. Doesn’t have offer but could leave camp with one.
Munchie Legeaux, 6'4" 190 lbs, Edna Karr High School, New Orleans, LA
4-Star Dual Threat QB/Athlete. Right now, UT is recruiting him as a QB. His goal is to convince our staff that he has the potential to play QB in the SEC.
Coty Blanchard, 6'1" 180 lbs, Cherokee Couny HS, Centre, Alabama
Sleeper prospect with a big-time arm.
Steven Morris, 6'2" 200 lbs, Monsignor HS, Miaml, Florida
Barry Brunetti, 6'1" 200 lbs, Memphis University HS, Memphis, TN
This one is interesting. I hear conflicting information on where things stand with this prospect ... from reliable sources. Needless to say Camp is very important for this prospect. Rated as one of the top dual threat QBs in the country.
I don’t expect there to be a lot of recruiting news associated with the running back position during camps. My guess is that UT takes one running back in the 2010 class… provided it’s the ‘right one”…. Michael Dyer , #9 overall rated player in the country from Little Rock, Arkansas, would be the right one. Eduardo Clements, easily one of top ten running backs prospects in country from Booker T. Washington High in Florida, would be the “right one” too. Both have offers and both are expected to attend camp.
I'm also interested to see how I state running back prospects Keon Williams from the Chattanooga area and Orleans Opoku-Darkwa from the Nashville area fare. There are also a couple of high profile 2011 in state running back prospects attending camp as well but we have plenty of time to focus on them.
I would expect at least 2 or 3 prospects attending offensive line camp, that don’t currently have offers, to be offered scholarships based on their individual camp performance. I'm not absolutely certain these kids would commit upon receipt of an offer but nothing would surprise me. Big month for a number of instate prospects that would love to play college football at UT. Here a few to keep an eye on
Zac Tait, 6'4" 310 lbs, Catholic HS, Knoxville, TN
One to pay attention to
OC Brown, 6'2" 312 lbs, Manassas HS, Memphis, TN
Many think this prospect will leave Knoxville with an offer… I'm not so certain
Jared Duke, 6'6" 320 lbs, Walker Valley HS, Cleveland, TN
Cammeron Clemmons, 6'6" 260 lbs, Wilson Central HS, Lebanon, TN
Lots of reasons to think he will be offered a scholarship
Tim McAdoo, 6'2" 310 lbs, Oakland HS, Murfreesboro, TN
Accomplished Defensive Tackle in High School. Could move to Offensive Line in College
Quinton Alton, 6'6" 250 lbs, Hillcrest HS, Memphis TN
Intriguing prospect. Second year of football. Could be tackle, defensive end or tight end in college
Dakota Mosley, 6'4" 250 lbs, Little Rock Academy, Little Rock, AR
Prospect is a tight end that projects as offensive tackle or defensive end in college.
Daquon Jones, 6'2" 300 lbs, Johnson City HS, Johnson City, NY
Rodregus Scruggs, 6'5" 280 lbs, Mitchell Road HS, Memphis, TN
May not camp at UT but will likely take unofficial visit to campus during June.
Kalon Davis, 6'5" 325 lbs, Chester HS, Chester, SC
Zach Fulton 6'5" 290 lbs, Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Flossmoor, IL.
Really interested to see if he leaves Camp with an offer. Brother played at Illinois and is now with Tampa Bay.
Dakota Anderson, 6'5" 240 lbs, Xenia HS, Xenia Ohio
This is one of those under the radar prospects to keep an eye on next week. Good camp could result in offer. This another prospect that Graduate Assistant Mitch Browning has identified through his contacts in the Midwest.
Additionally a number of offensive line prospects with offers will also attend Camp at UT. Some of these are
AJ Cann; Jose Jose (UT commit); Shon Coleman; and, Chaz Green.
With all the above, I'm paying the most attention to see if the #1 prospect in the country, offensive lineman Sentrel Henderson from St. Paul , Minnesota, makes20it to campus. He stands 6’8” 300 pounds. Graduate Assistant Mitch Browning has a relationship with the prospect and his coaches from his time as Offensive Coordinator at Minnesota. “Coach” Browning at least has the prospect intrigued about UT if nothing else. If he shows up on campus, I will give UT a punchers’ chance to get an official visit from him this fall and maybe more.
I'm not going to list every defensive tackle prospect attending camp; however, I can tell you it looks like the three top high school defensive tackle prospects on UT's 2010 board are planning to camp and/or take an unofficial visit to UT during June.
Each intrigues me for different reasons. Here is little on each of these prospects
Evan Hailes, 6'1" 305 lbs, Oscar Smith HS, Chesapeake, VA.
Planning to be on campus June 18. Although he hasn’t officially named a leader, unofficially most think UT is the team to beat. I think this is a commitment this staff would like to wrap up this month. Virginia Tech is the chief competition for this prospect. He is a teammate of UT “freshman to be” Jerod Askew. Pay attention to this one for sure.
Kelcy Quarles, 6"4" 260 lbs, Greenwood HS, Greenwood SC
Number 1 defensive tackle prospect in the country and currently a South Carolina commitment. However, this kid loves UT. After O&W game many felt he was on the verge on changing his commitment to UT. Couple of weeks ago, his father informed media outlets that his sons’ recruitment was done and he indeed was re-affirming his commitment to South Carolina. Guess his kid didn’t get the memo….. I understand he and Coach O regularly spend time talking with one another. He is also going to attend camp at UT. I don’t think he changes his commitment anytime soon but I do not count UT out of this one by any stretch.
Richard Ash, 6'4" 260 lbs, Pahokee HS, Pahokee , FL
I know UT really likes this prospect from Pahokee High. He could wind up as either a defensive end or a defensive tackle. Right now, he mentions UT as a school in which he has interest. If he makes it to campus, UT becomes part of the mix in my opinion. I still think Florida is the team to beat. This is the type of prospect that can play for anyone in the country.
Three of the top prospects on UT’s defensive end board are planning to attend camp at UT. Teammates Corey Miller and Brandon Willis from Brynes High School in South Carolina have indicated they are attending camp at UT. I believe Florida State thinks they lead for both of these prospects and have to be somewhat concerned that both are camping together at UT. Remember Corey Miller’s father is an ex-NFL player who has been on campus with his son previously. I think Corey Miller’s father really likes UT….
The other intriguing prospect is William Gholston from Southeastern High School in Detroit, Michigan. He is a top 50 national player. UT has put the full court press on this prospect and it appears he has interest and will be on campus in June. This prospect is a=2 0physical freak (6’7” 245 lbs). Really interested to see if UT becomes a major player in his recruitment.
I do also expect JC Copeland, UT commitment and another highly rated defensive end prospect Fre’Shad Hunter to participate in camp as well.
I'm not sure we see much activity in the way of commitments from the Wide Receiver group. I think many of the wide receiver prospects are taking a “wait and see” approach with UT until the quarterback recruiting situation starts to work itself out. At least five to ten more highly rated wide receiver prospects will be attending camp. These are the three I'm paying the most attention to.
Markieth Ambles. One of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation from Georgia who has been on campus at least two or three times since February. I really believe he is waiting to see how the QB recruiting/situation is addressed before he moves forward with UT. I think UT likes him quite a bit and he could be the top wide receiver prospect on UT’s board.
Dyjuan Lewis. 6’2” 190 lbs (4.4 40). Top rated wide receiver prospect from Pike High School in Indiana. Quietly, UT’s recruitment of Dyjuan Lewis has flown under the recruiting radar and at the same time as continued to pick up steam. I think he really likes UT. Camp will be his first chance to see the campus and meet all the staff. Another prospect that can play football at any college in the country.
Stephen Alli. This prospect doesn’t have an offer yet but he could fill that big receiver void in our wide receiver corps. He stands 6’5” 210 pounds from Andover Proctor Academy in Andover, New Hampshire. Most of the Northeastern schools (Big East and Independents) know about this prospect. UT likes his tape. This is one of those prospects, much like the offensive lineman, they want to evaluate in person before an offer is made.
2010 is an above average year in state for linebacker prospects. Here are a couple of instate linebacker prospects to watch. UT really likes both these prospects.
Justin Maclin, 6’4” 215 pounds from Memphis Ridgeway. He may be the Number 1 target on UT’s overall recruiting board. He’s an elite talent from Memphis and UT has made a commitment to sign as many of these gifted in state prospects as they can. We are closing ground but Alabama and LSU still lead for his services and don’t count out USC (yes that’s Southern Cal). It will be really interesting to see if his time on campus helps UT make up more ground. Coach Orgeron is recruiting this prospect. Therefore, I will not count UT out of the race for this prospect until he signs with another school on National Signing Day next February.
Avery Williamson, 6’3” 225 lbs from Milan High School. Top ten if not bordering on top five player in state for 2010. Doesn’t have an offer yet but I understand that could change at any time.
A number of very good defensive backs will be attending camps at UT. Here are just a very few
Cody Riggs, 5'9" 165 lbs. St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Brother of former Vol Running Back. Gerald Riggs, Jr. Has very impressive offer list.
Kacy Rogers 6'2" 180 lbs, Carroll HS, Southlake, TX
Parents are graduates of UT. Dad former player at UT. Most every college in country is recruiting this prospect UT is trying to make a big push here. UT closing ground with this 4-star prospect. Another with an impressive offer list
Darius Robinson. 6'0" 175 lbs Westlake HS , Atlanta, Georgia
One of top Cornerbacks in Southeast.
Jonathan Mincy 5'10 175 lbs Southwest DeKalb HS, Decatur, GA
Some believe UT leads for this prospect. GA will be tough to beat
AJ Marshall 5"11" 175 lbs, South Durham HS, Durham NC
Nickel Robey 5"8" 165 lbs, Frostproof Middle HS, Frostproof, FL
Jamarcus Hines 5'10" 170 lbs, Hillcrest HS, Memphis
Marquette Dockery, 6’4” 200lbs, Hillcrest HS, Memphis
UT is planning to sign at least one kicking specialist in the 2010 class. Corey Acosta is one of the best place kickers in the state. He doesn’t have an offer but could leave camp with one. Though not mentioned with much frequency, signing at least one kicking specialist is a critical need in 2010. Another kicking specialist , Michael Palardy, from Florida will be attending camp as well. He has offers from Florida and Georgia among others.
I should mention that two of the state’s top 2011 prospects Jabriel Washington and local20product Devrin Young will be attending camp at UT as well. Jabriel Washington will be one of the top 50 players in the United States for 2011.
Darian Stone from Clinton High School will be attending camp ay UT. He is a QB/Athlete type very few outside of Clinton/Knoxville know about. By December of 2009, there will be no more secrets about Darian Stone. He is one of the best athletes in the state of Tennessee. Not sure where he'll end up but in my opinion he will have plenty of choices.
Hope your readers have fun with this. I had fun pulling it all together
5/20/09:'X' Says:I understand Tennessee is evaluating another Junior College quarterback prospect. The prospect’s name is Nick Lamaison a sophomore- to- be currently attending Mount San Antonio Community College in Walnut, California. He stands 6’1” 205 pounds and led his football team to a championship last season. He rang up fairly good statistics in an offense that ran an offense based upon a combination of both pro-style and spread principles.
Normally, an update is not warranted on a Junior College prospect or for that matter any single quarterback prospect UT is “evaluating”. To be honest, this staff is evaluating somewhere between 12 and 15 different quarterback prospects at this juncture. The evaluation of this prospect however intrigues me and it may intrigue me a bit more based on what happens over the next couple of weeks.
Follow me; there are a couple of pieces to this. This prospect was a full academic qualifier coming out of high school and I understand he has completed one year in junior college in good academic standing. Ok… so what does this mean? This means that there is an NCAA rule whereby, given the above academic standing, he is eligible to leave junior college after his freshman year and enroll in a four year school, where he would be immediately eligible for competition. Yes, given he is admitted to a four year school, he would be eligible for competition in the fall of 2009.
I have checked into this and this rule does exist. It’s fairly obvious to me the Tennessee staff is aware of the rule as well because our staff has been in contact with his coach and requested his game tape.
Though Nick Lamaison had an excellent freshman season, he has not been highly recruited by four year schools frankly because few colleges knew about this rule allowing him to enroll in a four year school after one year in junior college competition.
Why is UT interested in this prospect? Here is the next piece to this. The BJ Coleman departure has made our Quarterback situation all the more of a mess than it was headed into Spring Practice. Consider that UT has two scholarship quarterbacks on campus and both have had a history of injury issues (Crompton last fall with an ankle and Stephens this spring with his wrist).
Let’s be honest, we really don’t know if Stephens is completely healed from his wrist injury. He never looked healthy this spring in limited playing time. What if the injury lingers or he re-injures his wrist this fall? Crompton played most of the 2008 season with an ankle injury and was limited a day or two this spring with an ankle or lower leg issue. My point here is we are a sprained ankle, a late hit, a suspension or worse …. Away from Mike Rozier, a walk-on, being our quarterback. Holy G-Gun!!!!! You wonder how comfortable this staff is heading into the fall with only two scholarship quarterbacks on campus.
I’m probably reaching a little here to think Nick Lamaison is in UT’s quarterback discussion. I honestly don’t have a good feel as to how much of an interest UT has in Nick Lamaison, Nick Lamaison’s interest in UT, and whether or not his transcripts and grades could make it through the NCAA clearinghouse in time for him to get on campus=2 0to start learning the offense. Consider though that Nick Lamaison has faced live bullets, albeit Junior College ones, last season where Mike Rozier has not taken a snap behind center since high school back in 2003 timeframe.
Here is what to pay attention to though … pay attention to news related to the quarterbacks and quarterback recruiting over the next week or two. News here may have an impact on whether or not there is revved up interest in this prospect by UT. I don’t know if I would go as far as characterizing the situation as dire. However, facing an SEC schedule with only two scholarship quarterbacks has to be some cause for concern.
It is these types of situations that are behind the scenes but directly related to recruiting I find interesting to keep up with… More to follow
Eight (8) months away from National Signing Day 2010 and by my count, the UT staff has already extended right at 245 scholarship offers to 2010 prospects. To say they have been busy during the May Evaluation Period is a bit of an understatement. The number of offers extended has increased by almost one-third since I prepared an analysis of total scholarship offers by state and by position for you approximately 6 weeks ago. WOW!!
I like numbers and trends and to be honest curiosity started getting the best of me. I decided to compare the number of scholarships offered by UT for the 2010 class to the number of scholarships offered by the UT staff in 2008 and 2009. It was frustrating that could only locate data for the past two years. This analysis would be more compelling to go back 3 or 4 additional years to see what kind of trends we could identify. Short term though here is what I found.
For recruiting years 2008, 2009, and 2010, I compared the total number of offers made each year by each staff and then I looked at the number of offers made to prospects in the states of Florida and Georgia over the same time horizon. I20must give Rivals their do. Most of this information is available from their database. My list of current 2010 scholarship offers comes from a different source which is a bit "more current" if you will than what is posted on Rivals.
Let’s look at the new staff first. As I mentioned, approximately 245 scholarship offers have been extended to date. 50 (or a little more than 1 out of every 5 offers) offer have been made to prospects in the state of Florida... Amazing isn't it. Also, with respect to the state of Georgia, 31 offers have been made to prospects within Georgia. Collectively, one-third of our total scholarship offers made by this staff have been to prospects in two states...
Now for 2009, Rivals records show that 196 total scholarship offers were made by Coach Fulmer and Coach Kiffin combined staff's. Of the total offers, 28 offers (or roughly 14 percent) were made to prospects from Florida and 19 (approximately 10 percent) offers were made to prospects from Georgia.
For the entire 2008 recruiting season or period, this is more telling in my opinion because this is solely Coach Fulmer’s staff; the UT staff offered a total of 168 scholarships. 22 of these scholarship offers were made to prospects in Florida and 16 scholarship offers were made to prospects in Georgia. That is 13% and 9.5% respectively of the total offers went to prospects in those two states.
The numbers are telling. I’m not going to criticize the former staff but I will let you draw your own conclusions. We now have a staff full of recruiters that are aggressive in terms of player evaluations and extending offers. It’s also easy to see the dramatic shift in emphasis toward recruiting prospects in Florida and Georgia. This is consistent with what many national high school football talent evaluators say that the states of Florida and Georgia are loaded with prospects that can play at the Division 1 level. I believe this staff is intent on getting their fair share of them.
It’s been subtle but I believe we are beginning to see Jim Cheney's fingerprints show up on UT's nationwide recruiting plan. Coach Cheney is highly respected and has very good connections in the Midwest. Consider within the last two week UT has offered a scholarship to arguably the best wide receiver prospect in Indiana (Dyjuan Lewis from Pike High School, Indianapolis); and, one of the best running backs in the state of Indiana (Roderick Smith from Paul Harding High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana). Both prospects have the opportunity to play college football at most any college in the country. Also, UT is evaluating one of the best pro style quarterback prospects in the St. Louis area - Steve Kaiser a 6'3" 215 prospect from De Smet Jesuit High School. Right now, it appears all three prospects will attend camp at UT in June.
I like the commitment of JC Copeland to UT. Recruited as a defensive end, the thought is he could put on weight and slide inside to defensive tackle but let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves yet its eight months to signing day. Auburn folks are scratching their heads this morning. My understanding is Auburn thought they had this prospect all but wrapped up. Florida State and Ole Miss were involved with this prospect as well.
I’m not a talent evaluator but in watching his film he always seems to show up around the football and he looks like he has excellent speed for a defensive lineman. Its telling that we have four (4), 2010 commitments and two (2) 2011 commitments and they are ALL lineman.
5/13/09:'X' Says:More on recruiting.
I have told you that when it comes to following recruiting I focus more on the process than I do the result. I believe that if the process is sound (which in the case of this new staff I believe it is) the results (ie commitments and ultimately signings) will take care of themselves. I enjoy following the process and marvel at how aggressive and organized this staff is when it comes to recruiting football prospects
Plus, I would hate to make a living trying to predict where 17 and 18 kids are going to decide to go to school. The thought process some of those kids use for making such major life-altering decisions is well … intriguing. Remember last signing day Darren Myles told his family he was signing with Alabama then goes on ESPN and signs scholarship papers with UT. Consider, Eddie Lacey, a highly-coveted running back, told his high school coach he was signing with UT and turned around 5 minutes later signed scholarship papers with Alabama.. (This actually turned out well for UT because if Eddie Lacey signs with UT no Bryce Brown). Also, I wouldn’t have bet a nickel UT could have pulled Nu’Keese Richardson out of that muck in Pahokee but they did ….
Think back to March when the Bryce Brown recruitment was front and center. Recall that I didn’t tell you Bryce Brown would sign with UT. I never said that at all. However, I did tell you to watch the Bryce Brown recruitment because I was hearing a number of things coming from my sources within the complex (including giving some local media types “misinformation”) that made me really believe he could end up signing with UT. Sometimes its just reading the tea leaves dangled before you.
With my position firmly stated, I do know many of your listeners focus more on the results and not so much on the process. With that being said, I wanted to give you my opinion on where the quarterback recruiting stands.
Let me say first the following is solely my opinion. My opinion though has been formed based on information I have pieced together over the last week or so. As I qualify most everything to do with recruiting, this could all change by the end of the week.
Coach Chaney and Coach Reaves are doing a very thorough evaluation of 2010 quarterback prospects and of course that is their job. I have no doubts UT will obtain commitments and ultimately sign two quality quarterbacks in this upcoming recruiting class. No doubt in my mind about that. So here is what I think.
As time passes, I believe UT is moving further and further away from the two high school quarterbacks on the west coast ( Scroggins and Heaps). These are the two prospects most UT fans covet certainly. I don’t think either ends up at UT though. In my opinion, Heaps goes to BYU or Washington. Not certain where the other prospect ends up. Scroggins as I understand isn’t planning on visiting Knoxville until late June and his decision would not come to late summer or early fall. I believe this staff would like to have at least one piece of the quarterback recruiting puzzle firmed up by the early part of June (on or about the time summer position and team camps start at UT) .
Also, for those who are holding out hope UT gets involved with Joe Montana’s son, Nick, I don’t see that happening. While they have evaluated him, he is just learning the pro style offense and talent evaluators refer to him as a “project” meaning he would likely have to be brought along slowly if he plays at a school running a pro-style system. I just don’t see this staff signing a quarterback prospect they likely won’t get any on field contribution from for two maybe three years.
With that said…
Contrary to some media reports, I believe the Hendrix kid from Cincinnati has legitimate interest in UT. This is a prospect who has seen his stock climb as more schools view his tape and watch him throw during this current evaluation period. Schools like Miami, (FL) and Ohio State highlight a number of high-profile schools now trying to get involved with the prospect. He was on campus for spring drills, attended the Orange and White game, and has an offer from UT.. After the UT staff saw him throw in person, I believe he is firmly in the mix.
UT has recently offered quarterback prospects in Louisiana (Legeaux) and Florida (Morris). Both are big, athletic prospects. Plus there is a high school quarterback prospect in Alabama (Coty Blanchard); a quarterback prospect in Colorado (Austin Hinder); in Georgia (Hutson Mason); and, an instate kid from the mid-state (Wallace if memory serves me correctly ) they also have interest in
It would not surprise me if there is another prospect we aren’t hearing much about right now that moves to the forefront in the next couple of weeks.
I'm sorry not in my office today (off site meeting). I don’t have all my quarterback information with me but the above represents the my opinion.
Again, I'm not worried about the results at all.
Now 'X' With a word on Jose Jose....
UT went into enemy territory yesterday and pulled out a commitment from lineman Jose Jose in South Florida. He stands 6'2"-3”-ish and weight-wise he is a little north of 330 pounds right now. He attends Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida.. His goal is to try and be at 290-300 pounds by the time he gets to campus in December.
This is a big pickup for UT in any number of ways. First, forget the “stars” beside his name. The prospect has scholarship offers from almost twenty (20) Division 1 schools including Florida, Florida State, and Miami. It’s fairly obvious to me plenty of college football coaches think this kid can play at a high level in college; This is a commitment in an area of need for UT the interior line. He can play center or guard and it would not surprise me if he didn’t get a look on the defensive line next spring (I do think though he is destined for the offensive line); He is graduating this December and will enroll in UT January 2010 meaning he can participate in winter workouts and spring practice. This likely gives him a shot to compete for playing time in the fall of 2010; In terms of Tennessee’s overall recruiting program, this commitment carries extreme significance. South Florida is loaded with very good high school football players. The new Tennessee staff is trying to establish a presence in South Florida. Securing a commitment from a prospect that Miami wanted will open the eyes of many a prospect and their families; Consider also that UT has offered four (4) of Jose Jose’s teammates scholarships ... Quinton Dunbar and Ted Meline (Wide Receivers); Lyden Trail (Defensive End); and, Eduardo Clements (running back). These are all prospects much like Jose that could play college football anywhere in the country; and, Last, but most important. This coaching staff really likes this prospect. Frankly, that is all I need to know. He was one of the first offensive line prospects the new staff offered a scholarship. While he is not at the very top of their offensive line board, he is one of the prospects they coveted.
5/8/09:'X' Says:'The names of the players departing are beginning to trickle out which is not surprising.
Consider what you saw this spring. You saw what I saw…… do you disagree with any of this?
Outside of McCoy, Reveiz, and maybe Frazier … our linebackers are not SEC caliber (serviceable at best right now)
2. Not sure we have 6 or 8 SEC Caliber offensive lineman right now BUT the first 6 or 8 offensive lineman are a fairly good group (including Aaron Douglas who will develop into a very good one in due time) …. Beyond these 6 or 8, "my guess" is the staff has let some of the others know they probably won’t contribute here.
3 . The writing is on the wall for a wide receiver (maybe two) that didn’t see much time this spring. Freshman will play here early.
4. On the defensive line, with our lack of depth, you have players that have had every opportunity to “get in the mix” and didnt take advantage of the opportunity in winter or spring workouts
5. After our first 4 or 5 defensive backs, most of our other defensive backs have what I would call “similar skills” good, but not exceptional skills. In my opinion, some of these kids will get passed on the depth chart when Myles, Jackson, Teague, Edwards, Gordon, Oliver get on campus. I understand 5 if not all the newcomers projected to play defensive back are on track to qualify for school.
I will not “name names” out of respect to the current players. I'm not 100% certain everyone that may be thinking about departing has made their final decision. Plus, there is already enough rumor-mongering that goes on around this Program… but you can figure out the names
I dont know “numbers per se “ but they could add up quickly
I have been asked if I had any eligibility left…..
Keeping up with all this is becoming a full time occupation.
'Random Thoughts From The Recruiting Trail.'
'The last week of April through the month of May is one of the best periods on the college recruiting calendar. This is what is referred to as the “Spring Evaluation Period” where College Football Recruiting Coordinators and Assistant Coaches scour Junior Colleges and high schools all over the country to ‘evaluate” prospects. By NCAA law, coaches can watch prospects practice and workout, talk to their coaches, even shoot video tape of workouts, team practices or individual drills. Coaches can’t orchestrate workouts nor can they speak to prospects during the Evaluation period.
The UT Coaches, as has already been discussed in through various media outlets, are on the road equipped with hand-held video cameras for shooting video tape of prospects. The video is then be sent back to UT, broken down by recruiting20staff, and used as part of the overall prospect evaluation process. Coach Orgeron is the pioneer in using video tape as an evaluation tool. Don’t believe me? Go read “Meat Market”. It’s fascinating. Coach Orgeron swears by it that is all I need to know. Its the foundation of his recruiting process. There is so much questionable ‘recruiting tape” available on prospects now its “Buyer Beware”. From YouTube, the recruiting services, handlers, or from the prospect himself, it’s all available if you have a computer. Problem is with technology you really never know how authentic that tape is unless you take yourself.
I do know this staff likes taping prospects in a variety of different settings either the practice field, conditioning work, or participation in other athletic events. They also prefer to gauge the level of competition a prospect has have played against in high school (or JUCO). This staff trusts the process.
To be honest, the former Coaching staff just didn’t seem to be as active when it came to Spring Evaluations comparatively speaking to the new staff. In the20spirit of fairness however, last year, Coach Fulmer did make a philosophical decision get more prospects to campus during the spring leading up to the 2008 Spring Evaluation Period. UT actually held a couple of Junior Recruiting days, invited many a prospect to campus during 2008 Spring practices, and had a fairly good turnout for the 2008 Orange and White game. You can thank the former staff for identifying current Vols’ Toney Williams, Nigel Mitchell-Thornton, and Jequori Schofield as high level Division 1 prospects early and well before any of the other SEC or ACC schools. Most importantly, the former staff kept each of these prospects committed to UT during the coaching transition.
Recruiting News and Recruiting Services
At this time of the year there is also a tremendous amount of information available on prospects being recruited by all the major colleges. Seems like every day there are eight to ten or more new articles posted by regional or local media, and the recruiting services (such as ESPN, Scout, etc) concerning prospects that, if nothing else, UT has identified as a potential prospect and is&n ;at least evaluating as such.
Let me say first that I can’t think of a more thankless job than working for one of these “services” that hunt down 17 and 18 year old kids at all hours of the day (and night) and ask them questions the kid has heard at least 5 or 10 times earlier that day…. Let’s be honest. The spring before most teenager’s senior year most kids are worried about the prom, summer vacation, etc. These prospects in addition to being bombarded by relentless phone calls are pushed to make decisions on what schools to visit during the summer, what Combines or Summer Camps to attend, wading through countless boxes of mail from college recruiters, and to a lesser degree how to pay for all the travel. Its a grind for some of these prospects for sure.
With that being said, I try to read as many of these articles as I can. I find it very impressive just to see the volume of prospects this staff is evaluating in such a short period of time. Remember this staff has only been at it for about 4 full months plus they had a recruiting class to finish off and 15 spring practices to plan for. I continue to be impressed with the success they are having.
The “Not So Obvious”
Another reason I love this time of the recruiting year is this staff is so very good at identifying those “not so obvious” prospects that fit their schemes. Most casual observers of football recruiting will know the names of 2010 Quarterback prospects like Jake Heaps and Jesse Scroggins; prospects like LaMarcus Joyner (defensive back); Markeith Ambles (Wide Receiver); and, Kelcy Quarles (defensive tackle). Each of these prospects may very well end up attending UT and could wind up being ranked as Number 1 rated prospect nationally at their respective positions. All are high profile recruits, exceptional talents, darlings of the national recruiting services, and truly can go anywhere in America to play their college football.
Up until the Spring Evaluations began, have any of you recruiting fanatics heard of Trevor Robinson (defensive line prospect from California); Brandon Burrow (defensive end prospect from Georgia); Jeremy Grable and Travis Williams (linebacker prospects from Georgia and Virginia respectively); or how about Jarret Fobbs (defensive back prospect from Louisiana with UT connections)? …… This is what I thought.
These five (5) prospects are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more prospects just like these five we'll here more about over the summer that are far from household names right now.
Now though each of the five , as well as many more, have moved firmly onto UT’s recruiting board and in some cases - see Travis Williams and Jarrett Fobbs - have already been offered scholarships.
2010 Recruiting and Expectations
Did you notice how strong this staff closed out the 2009 Recruiting class? If you pay attention to Rivals and Scout team recruiting rankings, this new staff was able to salvage a top 10 class with the majority of staff only being on campus for roughly 4 weeks. Surely with a year to recruit, this staff will reel in a top 5 recruiting class in 2010, right? I continue to tell people it’s premature to think UT will sign have a top five class in 2010.
Consider, the focus of the 2010 recruiting class is fortifying the line both offensively and defensively. I expect between 10 to 12 of the 2010 signees, if not a couple more, to be lineman. Plus, UT will likely sign one if not two kicking specialists. If you pay attention to recruiting rankings, which I don’t, lineman aren’t necessarily considered the “babes of the ball”. That is, a few but not many lineman are highly ranked by the recruiting services, at least one or two of our lineman signees will be JUCO prospects, and maybe one or two other signees will be prospects other schools have missed or mis-evaluated and will not be highly rated by the recruiting services if at all. Kickers historically do not receive terribly high rankings from recruiting services either so given these factors and I don't expect a #1 ranked class but who cares really
This staff does not concern itself with stars or rankings. They focus on their process. The results will take care of themselves. UT will have a very good class but those expecting a #1 Recruiting class may need to re-think your expectations.
Remember too recruiting is all about relationships. This staff not only played catch up in terms of 2009 recruiting but privately they feel like they are still playing behind as we are well into 2010 recruiting. Remember they had 15 spring practices to plan for in addition to developing a comprehensive recruiting program. With all that said, the 2010 class will be good. The 2011 class will be better. They will need a little time to get the recruiting infrastructure fully engaged.
In State Recruiting….
In my last update, I provided an analysis using Rivals database where I noted that of approximately 150 scholarship offers made by this staff as of early April only four of those offered scholarships were in state prospects. I know many followers are concerned that this number of in state offers appears disproportionate and that there is a lack of attention being paid to in state prospects. Let me offer the following….
I wish the in state football talent was such that annually 10 to 15 Tennessee prospects were of the caliber to that could play at a high level in the SEC and preferably play at UT. Tennessee has not traditionally produced high level Division 1 football talent. Over the last couple of years though, the talent level has improved. I'm not sure whether its related to population shifts, improved coaching, more emphasis on skills development, year round conditioning programs or all the above. However, many analysts with these recruiting services conclude the football talent level in Tennessee has steadily improved over the last 3 to 4 years.
What is also interesting is that while the state has not been good at producing football talent there have been a number of in-state prospects that were not highly sought after, either because they didn’t go to skills camps or were under-evaluated or mis-evaluated, that have had very good college career and even professional careers. Patrick Willis (Ole Miss and San Francisco 49ers); Garret Reynolds (North Carolina and Atlanta Falcons); Tyson Clabo (Wake Forest and Atlanta Falcons); Greg Hardy (Ole Miss projected as 2010 NFL First Round selection); David Spurlock (Florida State); Jeremy Jarman (Kentucky) are just a few that fit this profile.
In my opinion, there are a number of in state prospects that don’t hold offers from UT now that are better prospects than so-called “nationally known” prospects that have scholarship offers from UT. Now that spring evaluation period is here and summer camps begin in June, I expect the number in- state prospects with scholarships offers to increase. Look for a number of offers to be targeted towards in state offensive line prospects.
While the 2010 crop of high school talent is good, the 2011 in state talent pool looks to be above average if not exceptional. One National 100 ranking of 2011 prospects already issued has four prospects from the state of Tennessee in its top 50 which is almost unheard of. In addition to these high profile kids, the 2011 class has another tier of solid group of prospects that early on appear to be legitimate SEC caliber prospects. Remember the names of in state prospects like Jabriel Washington, Anthony Richardson, Artaves Gibson, Devrin Young, and Christian Coleman. You will know these names come May 2010.
Here are a few recruiting opinions based upon information I have from those involved in the process. I can’t tell you what I know but I can tell you what I think…. File it away and see in a couple of months how things work out. That is the fun of this.
Quarterback. Right now, UT feels good about their evaluation and recruiting of 2010 Quarterback prospects. With the departure of BJ Coleman, my guess is two quarterbacks will be signed in this class with at least one if not both being mid-term enrollees (January 2010). Reading between the lines, my opinion is UT is in the top two or three for both the Scroggins kid and the Heaps kid and I would expect another quarterback to receive an offer this week possibly. Coach Chaney and Coach Reaves are evaluating at least 5 or 6 other quarterbacks in addition to the two or three quarterback prospects everyone has connected to UT. I believe the quarterback recruiting situation will work itself out in a positive manner by early summer if not sooner. I'm not certain we know who the quarterbacks that end up committing to UT will be. There may be a quarterback prospect or two we don't know much about right now that show up on our recruiting board before all is said and done.
Running Back. They still would like to sign at least one running back in the 2010 class in my opinion. The depth chart with the signing of Bryce Brown and David Oku will scare off many running back prospects. UT wants the running back prospect that is not fazed by our depth chart and doesn’t fear competition. I get the feeling one of their top targets is Michael Dyer from Fayetteville, Arkansas. The staff is also evaluating a couple of in-state prospects Keon Williams (Chattanooga area) and Orleans Opoku Darkwa (Nashville area). If the staff is unable to sign the running back prospect that fits their scheme and style, 2011 is loaded with in state and regional high profile running back prospects.
Linebackers. Linebacker recruiting was not a huge need area for the 2010 class until about half way through spring practice. Now its a priority. Since then, there has been a concerted effort to identify, evaluate, and pursue difference makers at the linebacker position. They like the prospect out of Memphis Justin Maclin and he may well be the #1 Linebacker prospect on their board. They have made up a lot of ground in recruiting the prospect but I believe they still trail LSU and Alabama. Another prospect they like is Josh Shirley from California. West coast schools will be tough to overcome for this prospect. There is another linebacker prospect from the Atlanta area, Clarence Jackson, that is high on their board as well.
Wide Receiver. My guess is UT would like to sign two possibly three wide receiver prospects in 2010. Two of the signees will probably be bona fide wide receiver prospects that are currently playing wide receiver in high school. The other wide receiver signee could be an athlete or quarterback in high school that will be converted into a wide receiver in college. Prospect Matt Milton, a 6’6” receiver from Illinois, is high on UT's wide receiver list and he apparently likes Tennessee a lot too. Keep an eye on South Florida Wide Receivers prospects like Shawn Corker, Joshua Reece, DeJoshua Johnson, and Chris Dunkley. All are high profile prospects, coveted by all the Florida schools, each though is showing strong interest in Tennessee. Stay tuned.
Couple of Other Notes
Eddie Gran is in South Florida for a reason. First, he is almost a legendary figure with high school coaches in South Florida. Next, early indications are there are a number of prospects in South Florida that will give UT a serious look. Don’t completely write off prospects in South Florida that are committed to other schools or prospects that publicly claim other schools “lead for their services”. If Miami or Florida State falter this year on the field, UT could really do well in South Florida in 2010.
The Metro-Atlanta area is loaded with Division 1 prospects and is actually closer to Knoxville than Nashville is to Knoxville. Much like South Florida and Memphis a concerted20effort is being made establish a UT presence in Atlanta.
As I suggested earlier, file this away and in a couple of months lets see how things work out. Lets enjoy Coach Kiffin and staff and have fun with this.'
'After talking to someone last night, here are my observations about where UT stands with Dexter Moody.
On Moody, just for clarification, the deadline has passed for prospects to sign National Letters of Intent. So, technically, if UT offers him a scholarship I don’t believe he would “sign” anything. Provided he gets his grades in order and is admitted by the University, all he does is enroll and show up.
I think there are four issues at work here:
1) My understanding is that he still has grade issues that he has to work through. In fairness to Dexter Moody, a lot of prospects at this point still in the school year either have classroom work to do or have to make a test score. Remember that he originally signed a Letter of Intent with Georgia so he has been on an academic track to meet/comply with SEC and NCAA requirements.
2) I understand information is still be gathered on the incident(s) that may have occurred at his high school concerning an alleged confrontation with a teacher. I believe though if UT thought there was a huge issue there they wouldn’t have invited him up for the spring game ;
Taking Dexter Moody would further help UT with its recruiting efforts in the state of Georgia. UT ‘s recent signing class include Darren Myles, Robert Nelson, Toney Williams, Nigell-Mitchell Thornton all from the state of Georgia and all these kids will have a chance to play next year I'm convinced. UT has offered scholarships to approximately 20, 2010 prospects in the state of Georgia and is actively recruiting 10 to 15 others. Some of their most coveted prospects for 2010 live in the state of Georgia. Conversely, if they take Dexter Moody and it doesn’t work out (see item 2 above), it has the potential to backfire on them; and,
4) I think this is a very important point that is being overlooked. There is no doubt Dexter Moody is an athletically gifted prospect. However, it needs to be said that he played high school football in one of the lower, if not the lowest, football classifications, in the state of Georgia.
I understand part of the decision is whether he is a prospect that can come in and play quickly (which is what they need) OR whether he is so raw technique-wise and the competition level he played against in high school was so weak he was able to get by on athleticism alone.
If he needs some “seasoning” so to speak (ie a red-shirt season as an example), maybe there are 2010 linebacker prospects UT is currently recruiting they prefer?
I hate to draw comparisons but Chris Donald , currently running second team linebacker at UT, was a highly rated linebacker prospect from West Tennessee coming out of high school when he signed with UT. Chris Donald played high school football in one of the state’s lower football classifications. I don’t believe anyone would question that Chris Donald’s transition from high school football to SEC football has been slow.
I'm certain of one thing… this staff has done and continues to do its homework. The decision to take this prospect is based upon the above AND how20taking this prospect fits into the 2009 season and their longer term recruiting plans.'
4/17/09:A Recruiting Update From 'X'
Been busy today but here are some "news and notes"
Bunch of prospects will be in this weekend. Here are some notable ones.
(Note that BAMA and Florida have their spring games tomorrow. One would have to think UT will be a player for any and all the prospects that show up at UT tomorrow instead of going to one of these events.)
At least two prospects (Richard Ash (DE) and Merrill Noel (DB)) from Pahokee, Florida will be in attendance with teammate and future Vol NuKeese Richardson. Both have offers from UT
It is also a positive that both Wide Receiver prospect , Markieth Ambles (Rivals Overall # 23 player) from Georgia and Defensive End prospect, Corey Miller ( Rivals Overall #113) from South Carolina will be back on campus to visit again. Both have been on campus multiple times this fall. Actually, there are MANY prospects that have been here for spring practices that will be on campus tomorrow as.
Lamarcus Joyner, a defensive back prospect (Rivals Over #7 player) from Miami, Florida is tentative. I just have not had a chance to track it down this morning.
It is also a positive that current South Carolina commitment and defensive tackle prospect Kelcy Quarles (Rivals Overall #35 player) will be on campus tomorrow for the game… I believe he is on the verge of de-committing from South Carolina. Kid can play anywhere in the country.
These are the caliber of prospects that can play anywhere in the country
There are a ton of others…. Work has just got in the way today
My conspiracy theory on this ex-professional baseball QB prospect (Mike Rozier) is that if we take him OR he elects to come to UT (the Red Sox are paying for his education) I don’t believe we take a QB prospect in this upcoming class.
Reason being that while yes they are recruiting a number of quarterback prospects the pro-style prospects they seem to be fond of right now are in the 2011 class. Plus this Rozier kid has a connection somewhat distant albeit with the #1 Wide Receiver prospect on UT’s Board Markeith Ambles.. We'll see. Like I said you know me I'm a black helicopter guy and I'm piecing things together based upon things I have heard
'Here is a list of 2010 prospects that have been on campus this spring for unofficial visits. By no means is this complete but these are a few notable ones that have visited UT this spring. . I have placed an asterisk beside the names of the prospects currently rated in Rivals top 250 . I have also included any little bit of information that I have on prospects that would lead one to believe Tennessee maybe in good shape with the prospect OR in not so good a shape (ie the prospect will probably end up looking elsewhere…. Of course with this staff I don’t count them out with any prospect). We are still 9 months away from National Signing Day Vol fans.
One thing to keep an eye on are the prospects on this list below that end up coming back into town again this weekend for the Orange & White Game. Remember for all these unofficial visits the prospects and their families pay their own way.
Jake Heaps *. Long shot to end up at UT in my opinion
Nick Montana (Recently received scholarship offer from UT)
Barry Brunetti (UT recruiting as an athlete)
Hutson Mason (Could receive offer this weekend at O&W Game)
Mike Rozier (pro style QB that just gave up professional baseball. could enroll this summer)
Storm Johnson* (LSU the favorite)
Marcus Lattimore*(Signing of Bryce Brown may hurt here)
Mack Brown* (Georgia is the favorite)
Zak Tait…. (Doesn’t have offer yet but that may change soon)
Cameron Clemmens (son of former UT athlete)
Chaz Green* (Parents are UT graduates. Florida the leader)
James Stone* (UT gaining ground)
Zac Fulton (Brother currently plays at Illinois. Illinois staff concerned about this one)
Jared Duke (one to watch if he receives offer)
Markeith Ambles * (One of Nation’s Best. Has been to UT multiple Times this Spring)
Martavis Bryant* (Clemson commitment but UT in the picture)
Brian Vogler* (Has UT connections and connections to area)
Defensive Lineman (Ends and Tackles)
Jacquez Smith * (UT commitment)
Corey Miller * (Son of Former NFL Player Corey Miller. Coming Back for O&W Game)
JR Ferguson* (UT in good shape here … early)
Denzel McCoy * Georgia Tech far and away the Leader
Garrison Smith * (UT /Georgia battle in my opinion)
Jeffrey Whitaker * (Georgia tough to beat here)
Zac McCray * (UT really likes this prospect. Cousin (Logan Thomas) plays at Virginia Tech)
Da'Rick Rogers (DB/Athlete)
Thanks For Reading,