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'It is always a good time to talk football recruiting isn’t it? Recruiting is such a part of the fabric of college football. Recruiting, literally never takes a day off. Most VOL fans are counting down the days to the start of spring practice. Me, I’m just looking forward to the next Junior Day (which is March 3rd by the way) . If recruiting is of interest to you, my guess is you've already marked this day as well.
So, let’s talk 2013 recruiting. Back in January, I posted a list of in state prospects that were sure to be highly recruited by Tennessee and other FBS schools in 2013. Three of the in state prospects on the list have already committed to Tennessee. It is possible a couple or more prospects on that initial list could soon follow suit. Here's the thing. There are probably another 10 to 12 in state prospects that I didn’t include on that initial list that will receive a look from Tennessee between now and National Signing Day. You’ll see more on in state prospects below... and there will be other names emerge as spring evaluations and summer camps get underway. Speaking of in state recruiting, the high school football talent for 2013 in Tennessee is the best in years. However, it is all relative. Tennessee is “catching up” with other states but it will be a long process. The talent in states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, which regularly crank out excellent high school football talent, is well, in one word, exceptional this year. As one who likes to look at the dynamics of putting together recruiting classes, I will be very interested in watching how Tennessee builds their 2013 class. For instance. How many in state prospects will Tennessee offer and sign? Will the 2013 class be more regionally oriented? How big a factor will Tennessee be in Virginia and the Mid Atlantic area with Sal Sunseri on board? All these little things are side bars but are things that make following recruiting interesting.
A couple of other things to note. Alabama may be a little squeezed for numbers this recruiting cycle while Georgia and Florida look to be able to sign fairly large classes. Because the Florida schools took so many prospects targeted toward defense in 2012, one would think Tennessee could be in a position to land one or two of the better Florida defensive prospects. In 2012, 14 of Florida's 23 signees are defensive players; Florida State 10 o19 signees are defensive players; and 20 of the 33 signed by Miami are defensive players. Hmmm.
Enough pomp and circumstance. Let’s get started. Expect Tennessee to be selective but active in its pursuit of Junior College prospects this fall. The focus will be on prospects that can get to school in January 2013. One who bears watching is Hutchinson Community College (Kansas) defensive tackle Toby Johnson. Johnson a 6’4” 290 interior defensive line player popped on Tennessee’s radar while recruiting eventual signee Corradelle Patterson. A couple of important things to note about Johnson. It can’t hurt that he was a teammate of Tennessee signee Corradelle Patterson. Next, Kansas junior colleges are limited in the number of out of state football prospects they can sign each year. If they do sign an out of state prospect, chances are the prospect can play. Johnson is from the greater Atlanta area and has said publicly he wants to continue his football career closer to home. Tennessee has built a relationship with Johnson over the last year. Ole Miss has offered Johnson a scholarship as has Tennessee. Georgia is evaluating Johnson. More schools will jump on board with offers to Toby Johnson during the upcoming evaluation period.
Devonate Covington, defensive end Richland County Richland, North Carolina. 6'4" 220 lbs. X has already said it but it bears repeating. Expect Tennessee to be active in North Carolina in 2013. Jay Graham has been recruiting Covington for months. Though Covington doesn’t hold a Tennessee offer, Covington has publicly mentioned Tennessee and Clemson as his early leaders. Covington is a defensive end/linebacker type who has the frame to add more weight. Look for Covington to be on campus this spring.
Tennessee is looking to sign at least one high profile running back prospect in 2013. Thanks to Jay Graham, Tennessee has gotten its foot in the door with a number of the Southeast's finest. Here is just a small sampling of running back prospects Tennessee is involved with.
One of the top running backs on Tennessee’s board hails from North Carolina. Marquez Grayson is a 6'1" 205 lb from Lexington, North Carolina. It is early but Tennessee is definitely in the mix with Grayson. Grayson took an unofficial visit to Tennessee last fall. I would expect him back for Junior Day or another date during the spring. Grayson’s early favorites are Virginia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee. Analysts believe Grayson may be the best running back in North Carolina for the 2013 class.
Tyren Jones, 5'10" 200 lbs running back Marietta, Georgia. Jones is a smaller running back with excellent speed and power. As a junior, Jones was the leading rusher in the entire state. Jones recently picked up a Tennessee offer. Clemson is the early leader.
Tyshon Dye, 6'0" 205 lbs Elberton County running back. Dye is one of X’s favorites for 2013. Dye is a bigger back but you can’t tell it watching him run away from defenses on film. He may be the most complete back in Georgia in 2013. Dye has excellent size at 6-foot, 205 pounds, and has the speed, power, and elusiveness that Tennessee is seeking. Dye will certainly make his case for the top running back in Georgia in 2013. Tennessee recently offered Dye a scholarship. Auburn, Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia have offered as well. This is going to be an interesting recruitment going forward.
Alvin Kamara, 5’9” 185 lbs running back Norcross, GA. Kamara is in the same class as the aforementioned Jones and Dye as running backs that will be heavily recruited by all the Southeastern schools before all is said and done. Kamara is lightning fast and runs with toughness. Tennessee has offered Kamara a scholarship. Clemson and Alabama are among other schools that have followed suit. Kamara has been on campus and will likely be back many times. Kamara is a teammate and close friends with Vol signee Jason Croom.
Seems like having a dedicated running back coach is helping recruiting. Thank you Dave Hart.
Garret Sickels 6'4" 225 lbs, Red Bank Regional High School, Little Silver, NJ. Sickels holds a Tennessee offer and has already been on campus numerous times (sister is a Lady Vol athlete). Sickels is listed as a defensive end but in Tennessee's new defensive scheme Sickels is likely an outside linebacker. Sickels is explosive, possesses good speed, and is a nightmare for teams off the edge. Sickels is a high energy type and actually reminds of former VOL Will Overstreet. Florida is involved as is Alabama and a number of other high level FBS schools for Sickels.
A.J. Jackson - 6'6" 233lbs, Lovejoy High School, Hampton, Georgia. Jackson is a very interesting prospect. Tennessee is looking to sign a tight end in this 2013 class. Jackson projects as a tight end or defensive end in college. He is athletic enough to play either position; however, he could grow into an outside linebacker or if he doesn’t get much bigger could play slot receiver. Jackson is an outstanding athlete and plays at one of the better high school programs in Georgia. Jackson is on the Tennessee board but doesn’t have an offer at this time.
Montravious Adams, 6'3" 290 lbs, Dooley County, Vienna, Georgia. Defensive Tackle. Adams is one of the best defensive prospects in the Southeast, a top 10 prospect in Georgia, and an early ESPN 150 prospect for 2013. Adams is dominating. Adams plays with very good leverage and seems to be able to play the pass as well as the run. Tennessee has already offered. Clemson and Alabama appear to be the early leaders.
Greg Gilmore, 6'4" 275 lbs, South View High School, Hope Mills, North Carolina. Gilmore is ranked as the 4th best prospect at any position in North Carolina and has already been rated as a top 100 prospect regardless of position in the nation for 2013. Gilmore, who holds a Tennessee offer, is a big bodied athlete perfect for the new defensive schemes being installed at Tennessee. Gilmore is raw and still needs a ton of work in strength and conditioning program but the talent is there. Gilmore is at the top of Tennessee's list for 2013.
Nigel Bowden, 6'2" 230 lbs, Macon Central High School, Macon, Georgia. Bowden is the prototypical inside linebacker. He is receiving interest from all the major SEC and Southeastern schools. Physically, Bowden already looks like he can play in the SEC. Tennessee hasn’t offered Bowden yet but he is being evaluated.
Jonathan Allen, 6'3" 250 lbs, Stone Bridge High School, Ashburn, Virginia. Outside Linebacker. Allen is one of the top linebacker prospects in Virginia. He holds 15 offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Michigan, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Tennessee has offered Allen and Allen has expressed early interest in visiting Tennessee. This area of Virginia is a tough area to beat the in state schools for a football prospect.
Demarcus Walker, 6'4" 255 lbs, Sandalwood High School, Jacksonville, Florida. Strong side Defensive End. Walker already holds over 20 scholarship offers (including one from Tennessee). Last season Walker accounted for 14 sacks, 24 tackles for loss many times while beating double teams. Walker has mentioned looking out of state to play college football. Tennessee jumped into the Walker recruitment early. In state schools will be tough to overcome for a talent like Walker.
Darius Latham 6'5" 285 lbs Indianapolis, Indiana. Defensive Tackle/Defensive End. Latham is a prospect who possesses amazing athleticism for a 6’5” 285 lb kid who hasn’t stopped growing. Latham is from the old school. Two way football player(offense /defense) who also excels on the basketball floor. From watching his video, my guess is Latham winds up on defense in college. Latham would be a perfect fit for the new defense Tennessee is installing. Michigan, Tennessee, and Ole Miss are among the schools that have offered Latham a scholarship. Ohio State won’t be far behind.
Cameron Toney, 6’3” 210 lbs linebacker Huntsville, Alabama. Many will ask why include a highly rated Alabama prospect here. Alabama or Auburn usually have their way in state. Three reasons. Sal Sunseri had developed a great relationship with Toney before he left Alabama. Sunseri has continued to recruit Toney and he has been receptive; Alabama will likely have a numbers crunch with its 2013 recruiting class. Linebacker may be a spot where their numbers will be limited. This could spell opportunity for Tennessee; Tennessee has a glaring need in the 2013 class for inside linebackers. Toney is a perfect fit when his frame fills out; and, .finally, the Huntsville area is not quite as pro- Alabama/Auburn as other areas within the state. Tennessee has already extended Toney an offer as has Alabama and Auburn. Should be interesting one to watch.
Mike McCray, 6'4" 220 lbs, Trotwood-Madison High School, Trotwood, Ohio . Linebacker/Tight End. On defense McCray totaled over 90 tackles as a junior and for good measure had 5 interceptions. Equally skilled on offense, McCray tallied 10 touchdowns from the tight end spot. In 2011, McCray was named the Defensive Player of the Year in his region. Defensive is likely his destination in college. McCray likes Tennessee, has already been on campus, and has a Tennessee offer. Right now, he holds over 20 offers. Interestingly, Ohio State who many thought was the favorite for McCray has yet to offer. McCray is one of the best prospects in the country at both the tight end and linebacker position.
......And a little in-state talk to close thing out
Here are three in state defensive tackles for starters. These big bodied athletic kids are being evaluated by Tennessee and are sure to draw interest from other SEC schools.
Malik Brewer, 6’4” 320 lbs Defensive Tackle Boyd-Buchanan High School, Chattanooga. Brewer is hearing from Tennessee.
Garret Oden , 6’4” 275 lbs, Defensive Tackle, Humboldt High School, Humboldt, Tennessee. Humboldt has cranked out yet another very good defensive line prospect. Some believe Tennessee missed on 2012 prospect Tevin Bryson.
Skyler Sheffield 6'2" 300 lbs Chester Country High School, Henderson, Tennessee. Sheffied is built for the nose tackle spot. Mississippi State out in front early here.
And here are a few other Tennessee kids.
Vonn Bell, 6’1” 180 lbs, Ridgeview High School, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though X couldn’t figure out whether Bell was an in state prospect or not, college football recruiters didn’t have any problem identifying Vonn Bell as a big time talent. The talented prospect is likely destined for free safety in college. Tennessee has offered Bell. A number of other SEC schools have done the same. Even though it is early, a lot of people favor Tennessee here. True, Bell grew up a Tennessee fan. However, Georgia and Alabama will be tough competition for Bell and neither school will go quietly. Bell has been on campus for unofficial visits and will likely be back for Junior Day in early March.
Walker Jones 6’2” 220 lbs outside linebacker Cordova, Tennessee. Yes I know. Why even mentioned Walker Jones? Jones’ father played at Alabama and has two older brothers playing there now. Headed to Alabama for sure. First, the younger Jones has developed a good relationship with Coach Sunseri. He likes Tennessee. Being the youngest, he may want to find his own way instead of following in the footsteps of Dad and his brothers. Just because the kid is a legacy doesn’t necessarily mean he is a slam dunk to pick Alabama. Besides Alabama has a numbers crunch in 2013 and will likely take no more than 2 linebackers (1 already committed). Alabama has to be the favorite but Tennessee is going to recruit him. Tennessee has offered Jones a scholarship.
Mark Dodson, Jr. , 5’10” 185 lbs running back Memphis Tennessee. Last year I thought Dodson was the best running back prospect in Tennessee. Dodson Jr. is a 4.4 speed back who accounted for over 2,000 yds and 20 touchdowns last season. I don’t see Dodson Jr. as an every down running back in college. He looks like a third down change of pace type running back. Dodson gets up field and to top end speed as fast as anyone on Tennessee's board. Tennessee is evaluating Dodson but no offer as of yet. Cincinnati, Oregon, and Arkansas are involved with Dodson. Look for Dodson to be on campus for Junior Day or to take in a spring practice or two.
Christian Morris. 6'6" 270 lbs. Offensive Tackle. Memphis East High, Memphis. Morris is the ideal size for an offensive tackle. He is athletic would likely need a redshirt year in college to get stronger and work on technique. You can't teach the size and frame.
Latavieus Rayfield, 6'1" 180 lbs. Memphis Central High, Memphis. Emerging West Tennessee receiver/athlete Tennessee is evaluating. Rayfield one of the most athletic prospects in the state for 2013. Look for Tennessee to stay involved with Rayfield. He'll likely be at Tennessee during the spring and could camp at Tennessee. Former teammate of VOL Cameron Clear and current VOL target Frank Herron.
We aren’t to Valentine’s Day yet and Tennessee has already offered scholarships to approximately 120, 2013 prospects (yes 120). Compare the number of Tennessee offers to new SEC foe Missouri who has offered 25, 2013 prospects.
Tennessee offered 12, in-state prospects in 2012 (including 2 kicking specialists). Tennessee has already offered 10, instate prospects in 2013 (no kickers).
Tennessee offered scholarships to 6 prospects from the state of Virginia in 2012. Tennessee has already offered 8 prospects from the state of Virginia for 2013. 9 prospects from North Carolina were offered scholarships in 2012. 7 prospects from North Carolina have already been offered for 2013. Of those 15, 2012, offers to prospects from Virginia and North Carolina, Tennessee got 1 official visit (Korren Kirven). Look for that to change going forward.
So much more to follow. Next post will focus on offensive lineman, linebackers, and defensive backs
'Signing Class Awards
My favorite signee. LaDarrell McNeill. I never thought he would make it to Tennessee. It was a shock when he committed. You knew the Texas and the rest of the Big 12 schools would make a serious run at him which they did. He stayed true to his word. McNeil was the one the staff was most concerned about losing. Oklahoma State threw the kitchen sink at him. McNeil is the best high school prospect in Tennessee's signing class.
Signee likely to buy Dooley more time. Hands down it’s Cordarrelle Patterson. If he is as good as he looks on video, Patterson with the other offensive weapons give Tennessee one of the most explosive offenses in the country and buys Dooley a couple of more wins next season. This may be enough to earn Coach Dooley more time at Tennessee. Note to Coaches Dooley and Chaney. Use Patterson often. You may only have 13 opportunities to do so.
Sounds Like Sour Grapes But Could Care Less. X spent many a football weekend in Texas in his prime. One thing I can tell you. Folks grow up in Texas being Texas fans or A&M fans. Lifelong Texas fans, as the Santos family alleges to be, don’t spend 8 months of the recruiting process flirtin with A&M.
Signee Having the Greatest Risk /Reward. Davante Borque. Borque has so much athleticism it’s sickening. Jay Graham is now tasked with molding him into an SEC running back. It will take time. If Borque and Daddy are patient, Borque has a chance to be special. If he has trouble getting his feet under him and is slow to adjust to the college game, his time at Tennessee could be a colossal mess.
Signee That Is Going to Have to Show Me. Defensive Tackle Daniel O’Brien. First, I'm glad Daniel O'Brien is a VOL. Watching his video though, I couldn’t figure out why Tennessee had O’Brien rated so high. Of course this is why X writes and doesn’t coach. He looked a little slow, had trouble getting off blocks, and seemed easily blocked by smaller offensive lineman. Coaches know more than I. O’Brien is the one I will be waiting to see how he develops and how fast he sees the field at Tennessee.
Signee(s) You Shouldn’t Forget About. (1) Jason Croom is flat out the best wide receiver prospect in Georgia. Tennessee went and got Croom committed early. After that, all the “homer” Georgia recruiting analysts begin picking at his skill set finding all these reasons to downgrade him in their rankings. This kid can play. (2) Tennessee didn’t get many in state kids this cycle but they may have got the best in Drae Bowles. I don’t know where he winds up playing wide receiver, linebacker, and defensive back. I do know he’ll play a lot of will be one Tennesseans will be proud of. (3) Trent Taylor. Darin Hinshaw stayed on this kid after he committed to Miami got Taylor to visit Tennessee and that was it. Whether at defensive end or defensive tackle, watch for Taylor to be in the rotation next season. Watch his film. Taylor is athletic and smart football player.
The Signee whose ranking makes no sense. Deion Bonner. Again, the homer Georgia recruiting analysts working for the state’s flagship newspaper don’t even have Bonner ranked in their top 50 prospects in the state. Talk about laughable. Bonner is the best cornerback prospect in Georgia and one of the top cornerback prospects in the Southeast.
Signee I can’t wait to see play. Patterson of course but digging a little deeper I would say Pig Howard. Coach Chaney has a new toy and it will be interesting to see how and how much Tennessee utilizes his skills. On defense, it’s LaDarrell McNeil. He looks like a cant miss player on video. If he can step in and play early. He can change the dynamic of the defensive secondary.
Signee(s) that make the Star Gazers say whaaaa? Cody Blanc and Justin King. Blanc and King are versatile, fast and athletic. I don’t know what their respective positions will ultimately be at Tennessee but these signees will be special team staples. You need players like this. King is so athletic. He has a chance to help in a number of different spots. Don’t forget about him. Same goes for Blanc.
The prospect we literally stole from other Schools. Nathan Peterman. Kudos to Jim Chaney. Coach Chaney just beat all the Florida schools to the punch in his evaluation of Nathan Peterman. Peterman committed to Tennessee and shut his recruitment down. Then, went out and had a phenomenal senior season. Florida recruiting analysts believe Peterman is the best 2012 quarterback prospect the state produced. Florida, Miami, and Florida State all had great recruiting classes but they got caught flat footed in their evaluation of Nathan Peterman. Glad he is a VOL.
Signees that will make the most immediate impact. Well, let’s hope its Daniel McCullers, Cordarrelle Patterson and Darrington Sentimore. That is why you signed the JUCOs. To be honest, I’m hopeful it’s George Bullock the kicking specialist from Knox West. I’m not sold on Tennessee's current kicking specialists. A lot to ask from a true freshman kicking in the SEC. I will throw you a sleeper. Running back Alden Hill. Running backs can play early. Hill will have benefit of spring and fall practice under his belt. Hill will likely get a lot of short yardage and goal line work.
In closing, this class includes two potential All SEC type performers in the defensive backfield in Ladarrell McNeil and Deion Bonner.
Dooley gets it when it comes to recruiting but he needs to step it up a notch . His first three classes have stabilized and rebuilt the roster. This next class needs to be chocked full of difference makers.
Good to see Coach Dooley acknowledge all the negative recruiting he and staff have endured. It was real folks. Also, glad to see him take a swipe at the ole chest bumper. Classic.
Amazing….. Tennessee held this class together with tape, string, Darin Hinshaw, Terry Joseph, Coach Dooley, and a little bit of Jay Graham.
Darin Hinshaw. Recruiter of the year for this staff. One of the best in the SEC.
Can you remember the last time Tennessee official visited only one prospect the next to last weekend and two prospects the last weekend of a recruiting cycle? Unprecedented. The last two weekends are traditionally heavy visit weekends for Tennessee. Wonder if Coach Dooley regrets visiting such a small number of kids during these weekends. He walked away from this recruiting cycle with 18 or so official visits in his pocket.
Recruiting is changing. Kids are making decisions sooner. Tennessee already has 4, 2013 commitments. BAMA has 7. A&M has 5. This is why you saw Jay Graham and Joe Pittman and a little bit of Darin Hinshaw spend the last two weeks of the 2012 recruiting cycle focusing primarily on 2013 kids. Tennessee is already ahead of the recruiting curve for 2013.
Has anyone filed a missing persons report on Jim Chaney? Thought Coach Chaney would be more prominent in recruiting after all the coaching flux with the staff. Rarely did you hear of Coach Chaney being out on the road or involved with recruits. Hmmmmm
How long has the silent majority been clamoring for Coach Dooley to hire running backs coach? It has already paid huge dividends. Thank you Dave Hart.
Guess Coach Dooley finally got tired of hearing me complain and/or of seeing Florida have its way in the state of North Carolina. Tennessee is now trying to re-establish its brand in the Carolinas. In 2013, North Carolina is a recruiting battleground state for Tennessee. Virginia very well could be as well.
Can’t wait to see what Joe Pittman brings to recruiting in the Carolinas. A well liked coach spurned by the home state schools with tons of contacts in the Carolinas.
Don’t remember Tennessee offering as many in state kids so soon in the process as they have offered for the 2013 class. The mid-state and Memphis are two areas of focus. 3 in state prospects already committed. All three will be pre-season top 10 prospects in the state. Tennessee could sign between 8 and 10 in state prospects in 2013. Could be the same for 2014 as well.
Good to see Tennessee beat Alabama for McCullers. The future needs to include Tennessee winning more of those battles.
Look for Tennessee to have more battles with Florida next recruiting cycle as Tennessee makes a few tweaks to its recruiting focus.
Tennessee still has a few spots to work with in this 2012 class. There are a few kids on the radar. More to follow on this right here tomorrow.
As always, I remain,
1 tired X'
'I love following and being a part of recruiting. However, this thing we call recruiting has changed so much in recent years. Some for the good but so much has changed about recruiting for the bad. I no longer get worked up or upset if a kid says he is going to Tennessee then changes his mind and goes to another school. You see, WORDS MEAN NOTHING ANYMORE. COMMITMENTS MEAN EVEN LESS.
Honestly, it seems anymore its which school or coach gets the last word with the prospect. During the month of January many football coaches assume this alter ego as high pressure salesmen. And what is worse, coaches can up and leave for another dollar anytime they want and the kids are stuck for the next 4 to 5 years of their lives. Is what it is. Maybe the NCAA will reform this one of these days.
Hindsight is 20/20 and everyone is an armchair quarterback. With that said, I was concerned Tennessee chose to only officially visit 1 prospect the next to last visit weekend and only officially visit only 2 prospects the last visit weekend of the 2012 recruiting cycle. With all the negative talk and message board nonsense out there, you had to know that type of nonsense just added fodder for the programs chirping away at Tennessee's commitments that thrive on negative recruiting. Seems like Tennessee gave rivals a couple of weeks to work over some of our commitments. In my opinion, that was an error.
Each school gets 56 official visits in a recruiting cycle or calendar year if you will. You use them or lose them. This said, it should be noted that Tennessee had plenty of official visits left to use at the end of January.
If nothing else it seems you would want to use an official visit or two on prospects who are back up plans in case you lose a kid or two. As we have seen in the last couple of days, it happens.
My guess is that when Coach Dooley goes back and critiques this recruiting cycle you'll see more official visits used and the "big" official visit weekend being either the last or next to last official weekend of next recruiting cycle ..... instead of mid January.
I'm sure there was a calculated reason why Tennessee chose their big visit weekend to be relatively early in January. Seems like Tennessee just backed off the recruiting gas a little regarding officially visiting kids toward the end of January. Seems like Tennessee thought it was running out of spots. Well, it wasn't.
I have already said this but I think you will see Tennessee get back to more Tennessee, Virginia, and Carolinas recruiting going forward. With respect to the state of Tennessee, there were a handful of 2012 in state kids Tennessee either got a late start or a bad start recruiting this past year.
One or two of these prospects could have easily been a part of this class. Going forward, Tennessee as a staff has a much better group of recruiters than it had twelve months ago. Also, as a staff, I believe they are much better organized in state than in previous years.
Another thing, Tennessee now has coaches that want to be here. I’m not sure that was the case previously......
This much I know. Tennessee still needs another recruiter on this staff. Here's hoping the new defensive backs coach but whoever it is better is a very good recruiter.
So what is the line from the that old Tom Petty song, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”. Is there any better way to describe what most of us will be doing between now and Wednesday morning?
For Tennessee, the recruiting hay is in the barn. Now it’s the waiting. Big picture. Recruiting boards are paired down to a select few. Contingency plans are in place. In home visits are over. Coaches are off the road for the most part. This is the last recruiting visit weekend before recruiting goes dark Sunday night. Then, you hold your breath until Wednesday, February 1.
The numbers tell the story for Tennessee. 2 spots left in the class. 3 maybe 4 committed prospects taking visits this weekend. A pool of 5 prospects still on the board. 1 with an outside chance of 2 visitors on campus this weekend.
Information will be very scarce from now until Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening when kids get back from their final visits. Then, it is complete craziness until Wednesday.
After midnight on Sunday, there is not to be any contact between recruited prospects and coaches. This is a complete farce. Everybody knows it. There are plenty of ways coaches can get connected to prospects during this so called dead period. It is really a joke. This maybe the most stressful time for the kids and their families. I’m convinced many kids really don’t make their final decisions until the evening before or morning of National Signing Day. I remember Jacques McClendon, one of my favorite Vols of all time and one who had been committed to Tennessee for months, having a few second thoughts before he signed the papers. Big decision. First decision with consequences many of these kids have had to make.
The question for Coach Dooley is how solid are the relationships built with a couple of kids who are being pursued by other schools. Now, do these kids hold true to the commitments made for months or, do family or other pressures prevail? Coach Dooley knows the prospects he has to worry about keeping their end of the bargain. Tennessee has planned accordingly.
Even though this is all suppose to be about the prospects. It never amazes me how in some cases a parent or both parents begin to enjoy “being recruited” more than the player enjoys it. Honestly, the kids get sick of it after awhile. Tennessee has 2 of these situations in this class. Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Tennessee lost one or both of these prospects.
The following is the worst part of the whole process for me. Not the waiting until Wednesday. Not a prospect being committed to a school for months and then on signing day sign with another school. Remember it is kids we are dealing with and kids change their minds..... frequently. If you have one of these like I do you know what I'm talking about. No, the worst part for me is Basilio makes me predict how Tennessee is going to close this thing out. I don’t know for sure. I can tell you with certainty that while recruiting staff members have a feel for how they close they won’t know for sure about these kids until Wednesday morning. That is just the way it is. So here goes ......
I will break this into a couple of parts. The first is who stays and who goes and the second is how does Tennessee close.
Who Stays & Who Goes
Tennessee has 4 committed players still taking visits. I’m worried about all of them but I worry about everything. Let’s look at each one.
Dalton Santos. Down to Tennessee or Texas for Mr. Santos. If the kid, who has to spend the next 4 years of his life in either Austin or Knoxville, is making the choice, he picks Tennessee. Tennessee is giving him the opportunity to play his natural position (inside linebacker) and play early. Texas will likely move Santos to defensive end. He is too much of a tweener in my opinion for a defensive end.
My gut says the dad is going to be influential in the final decision . With that said, in my opinion Santos is headed to Texas. I think a lot of people involved in recruiting of Santos from Tennessee’s side feel the same way.
If Davante Borque is left to make the decision, he comes to Tennessee. If he and his father take the trip to Nebraska this weekend, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday morning to see where he ends up.
Otha Peters. I think he signs with Tennessee.
Ladarrell McNeil is a tough one. Oklahoma State has put an enormous amount of heat on McNeil. Oklahoma State is closer to Dallas than Knoxville is. McNeil would be a boost to an otherwise dreadful recruiting class Oklahoma State has put together. McNeil has steadfastly told Tennessee he is coming. We’ll see what he says next week. McNeil’s family loved its time in Tennessee. I’m going against most traditional thinking that he flips to Oklahoma State and say he sticks with Tennessee. Whether he signs with Tennessee or Oklahoma State, he will be the best prospect in either class.
How Does Tennessee Close
These are difficult because there are compelling reasons to be made for each of these prospects choosing Tennessee. Here are the 4 uncommitted prospects left on the board.
Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Tennessee is getting the last in home visit with Patterson. In my way of thinking this is key. Six weeks ago Tennessee was completely out of the Patterson sweepstakes. When Charlie Baggett “retired”, Tennessee was dead in the water with Patterson. Moving Darin Hinshaw to Wide Receiver Coach was the first step in repairing the relationship with Patterson. Hinshaw has done the rest. I do know Patterson feels comfortable at Tennessee. Even when the recruitment seemed off track, Tennessee just kept in touch and over time has seemed to re- capture whatever momentum there is with Patterson. Off the record, Tennessee is cautiously optimistic here. You look for any sign you can find in recruiting. Maybe it is me gasping for things but I think it speaks volumes Darin Hinshaw gets the last visit with Patterson.
Defensive lineman Korren Kirven. Kirven could step up Wednesday morning and sign papers with Virginia Tech and I wouldn’t be one bit surprised. His family has ties to Virginia Tech, he has a number of friends on the Virginia Tech team, and Blacksburg is a very easy drive for his parents to make every Saturday instead of driving down that gosh awful I-81 to Knoxville. Virginia Tech is the easy choice for him. The problem is Kirven loves Tennessee. He has been on campus so many times since the summer Tennessee is almost like a second home to him. Tennessee has the momentum here. This is another one where family may prevail though.
Quinshad Davis. Davis could be the steal of the class. The next great Tennessee receiver . A star in waiting. You wonder what Tennessee sells Davis if Patterson commits to Tennessee ? Let’s look at it. Tennessee could barely put 5 receivers on the field in a 5-wide set last season especially after Justin Hunter’s injury. Tennessee has already lost two receivers in the off season (Arnett and Milton), Zac Rogers graduates after the 2012 season; and you have the feeling some combination of Hunter, Rogers, and even Patterson could leave for the NFL draft after next season. Now , the depth chart doesn’t look so bad. Davis could very likely be an every down receiver by 2013. All the so-called analysts and experts are picking Tennessee here ...something tells me to watch Wake Forest.
Jacoby Briscoe. Defensive lineman like Kirven and Briscoe, are the type Tennessee needs to sign more of to return to SEC prominence. You simply stockpile and redshirt defensive tackles. Follow the Alabama model. I have always been told this late in the game you don’t turn down defensive lineman. It is clear Kirven is the top defensive line target. Briscoe is scheduled to visit this weekend. Honestly, I will be surprised if this happens. As good a prospect is Briscoe is, simply don’t think Tennessee has room.
Demetrious Wilson, Wide Receiver. How bad is Arkansas looking the last couple of days. Cutting loose a long time commitment two days before the last visit weekend. Then, 4 hours later not taking the commitment from Demetrious Wilson. a kid they have seemingly wanted and have been recruiting hard. Regardless, Wilson is the third of three wide receiver options Tennessee has remaining on its board. If Patterson doesn’t sign with Tennessee, look for Wilson to be a VOL. If Patterson falls to Tennessee and Davis goes elsewhere, I don’t think Tennessee can take 2 JUCO wide receivers.
To sum up, while Tennessee's board says "5" prospects are on it, I really think the pool of prospects to watch is more like "3". Kirven, Patterson and Davis.
That is it. Another recruiting cycle in the books. Look for updates between now and Wednesday morning
I will have a wrap of 2012 recruiting on Thursday after the smoke clears and a look ahead .
Have a great weekend.
Buckle the seat belt.
PSX: If and if...If Tennessee ends up signing only 24 prospects in this class, watch Tennessee and Rutgers commitment Quanzell Lambert. Right now Lambert isnt planning to sign with any school next Wednesday. He doesn't have any official visits left but he can visit a school like Tennessee on his own dime. Lambert is a big time inside linebacker prospect. If Santos does go to Texas as many think, Tennessee would have a spot for an inside linebacker. I know there have been discussions between Lambert and Tennessee as late as last evening.
Now I'm done.
'Signing Day can’t get here fast enough.
I remain cautiously optimistic Tennessee is going to close out this recruiting cycle strong……
Still a lot of work to be done to close it out though.
My opinion of course but I can have one. You know me I’m a Vol not a reporter. I do have a bias. I live and breathe this recruiting stuff.
You have to hand it to this Dooley guy. In the midst of the program seemingly going up in flames around him, possibly teetering on the edge of being run out of town, and losing 6 assistant coaches……. This guy could close out with a top ten recruiting class.
Give a ton of credit to two coaches you don’t hear much about Darrin Hinshaw and Terry Joseph. These two along with Dooley stayed on message with recruits and their parents and held things together until reinforcements arrived.
'Recruiting Notes and a Look Ahead:
Well, nine days to go and we can put this recruiting class in the books. This time of the year is not a time for the faint of heart. There is likely to be more prospect movement between now and signing day than in years past. This hard 25 rule the SEC has instituted if nothing else will add another layer of excitement to National Signing Day. Prospects committed to SEC schools with academic issues or are academic risks are at risk of having their seat at the table taken come Signing Day. Couple of SEC teams are going to have to pass on a really good player or two to comply with this new rule. This rule may make a school or two look bad when an offer is pulled at this late of a date. Criticize Coach Dooley all you want. Looks like he got his academic culling done early instead of late. Better to take the hit one month before signing day than a few days before signing day like other teams may be forced to. Another reason is we are dealing with 17 and 18 year old kids who are prone to change their mind.... a lot.... in a short period of time......
One brief look back. Tennessee capped off a light recruiting weekend by wrapping up a big time commitment in Deion Bonner a cornerback from Carver High in Columbus Georgia. Bonner is a big time talent. Before his off the field transgression last summer, Bonner was rated as the third best prospect at any position in the state of Georgia for 2012. One of the premier cornerbacks in the country in my opinion. Likely headed to either Georgia or Alabama before the incident, Bonner was one of the first telephone calls Coach Sunseri made when he donned the orange.
This Bonner guy is really good. He is a good enough talent that I'm not surprised Dooley and Sunseri, after sitting down with the kid, are taking a chance on him. Again, my opinion, if Bonner remains true to Tennessee and does sign with Tennessee next Wednesday, he is easily one of the top five signees in this class. Has a chance to be an early contributor next season.
As with recruiting the good comes with a little bad.. sort of. Cornerback commitment Daniel Gray up and out of nowhere took an official visit to West Virginia this past weekend. Hard to tell whether Gray was told Tennessee may not have room for him come signing day or whether he saw the writing on the wall (folks the Bonner commitment to Tennessee has been one of the worst kept secrets of recently memory). Gray says he is solid to Tennessee but if a kid is visiting other schools this late in the game you have to worry.
And of course there is the Dalton Santos deal. Of all the commitments, Santos is the one Tennessee and all Vol fans are concerned with and with good reason. Visiting a school Santos grew up idolizing the last recruiting weekend of this recruiting cycle does not bode well for Tennessee.
To be honest, Santos seems like a kid that has been looking for another place to go to school since Peter Sirmon left. I’m sort of over all the Santos drama. Good prospect but needs work in a strength and conditioning program. Honestly, I'm not sure how great an immediate fit he is for the new defensive coordinator anyway.
Enter Memphis standout Chase Robison a 6'4" 230 lb outside linebacker/defensive end/athlete type from Memphis Christian Brothers High School. To be honest, Robison may fit a need in this recruiting class more so than Santos. Robison has a few things you can't teach. Great first step. Uses his hands really well. Quick to the ball. In my previous post, I noted one area of concern in this class is the lack of an athletic off the edge rush end. Tennessee struck out in its pursuit of Alabama defensive end JaMichael Winston so the next prospect up is Robison. Tennessee's staff is moving quickly. Robison has an offer and is visiting this weekend. You think if he visits and wants to come to Tennessee they find a place for him. Coach Sunseri had evaluated Robison at Alabama and was familiar with Robison's skill set. Our previous defensive staff for some inexplicable reason did not give this kid a look.
If the Santos and Gray commitments hold Tennessee has two spots left in the recruiting class. My guess there is about a 70% chance one or both end up somewhere other than Tennessee come signing day. That being the case, Tennessee has three possibly four spots left. I told you last week there would be movement/changes in the commitment list. Still not certain we have seen the last of it. The way Tennessee is still continuing to recruit kids, my guess is there are three if not more spots up for grabs.
So who fills out the class? Way too early to know but Tennessee wants at least one more wide receiver, one more defensive lineman, and the best available athlete (I believe it is Robison).
Six weeks ago just before the JUCO signing period, I didn’t give Tennessee much of a chance to sign JUCO wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Tennessee had led for Patterson, the #1 JUCO prospect in the country at any position, for the longest time. Whether Patterson didn’t do something he was suppose to do academically or whether it was the bad ending to a bad season Tennessee looked to be on the outside looking end of Patterson's recruitment. Tennessee has survived all the late November and December mess thanks in large part to Darrin Hinshaw. Not saying Patterson winds up at Tennessee but now it wouldn't surprise me at all. Auburn seems to close well and Patterson keeps mentioning them.
Another wide receiver prospect to watch in Gaffney, South Carolina's Quinshad Davis. Davis is a 4 star prospect Rivals lists Davis as one of the top 250 prospects in the country and he just got named to the Parade All American team. Yet, for some reason, Davis remains largely under the radar. His leader was Wake Forest until Tennessee moved into the picture. Tennessee gets his last visit this weekend. Davis stands 6'3" weighs about 185 lbs. Davis would be a heck of a prospect to close with.
Could Tennessee take both Davis and Patterson? Remains to be seen. Patterson is still to some extent considered an academic risk while Davis will give you four years, has outstanding grades, and has the potential to be a star.
On defense, the kid Tennessee wants is Korren Kirven. Kirven is a big-time defensive lineman who lives virtually in the backyard of Virginia Tech. It is fact Kirven loves Tennessee. Kirven visited Tennessee two weekends ago and had a great visit. Problem is Alabama loves Kirven and is one of their top remaining targets and oh yes there is Virginia Tech too. By the way, Kirven visits Virginia Tech this weekend. Kirven wants the opportunity to play some defensive end in college. Tennessee has consistently recruited Kirven with defensive end as an option for him. I have always maintained since the summer that even though Virginia Tech has long been the favorite the longer Kirven went and did not commit to Virginia Tech the better it was for Tennessee's chances. If Peter Sirmon is still with Tennessee I would say absolutely Kirven was a VOL. Now it is going to be interesting to see if Dooley, Sunseri, and Palermo can quickly restore Kirven's comfort level with Tennessee. You continue to hear good things with this recruitment. I think its Kirven or bust in terms of defensive lineman for Tennessee.
Another prospect to watch this week is California cornerback Devian Shelton. If Daniel Gray does in fact de-commit or winds up "pursuing other options" officially freeing up another spot in the recruiting class, watch for Tennessee to move to get Shelton in for a visit. As mentioned last week, Shelton has long liked Tennessee. For some reason the previous defensive staff just wasn't that interested in Shelton. Shelton is a four star prospect and RIVALS TOP 250 prospect who is one of the top cornerback prospects in the country. If he visits Tennessee this weekend, tells me Tennessee has a spot for him and would be one to watch.
For what it is worth, people have suggested Tennessee should ask kicking specialist George Bullock to walk on or to grey shirt instead of taking up a spot in the signing class. The rationale being his spot could be used for another wide receiver or another linebacker. All I ask people thinking in this vane is go back and watch tape of Tennessee's kickers from last year...... Finished? Bad huh! Bullock is an upgrade over what is on campus and will help next year in some aspect of the kicking game. Also, if Tennessee doesn’t offer Bullock a scholarship other schools will. Lot of schools would have a spot for a talented kicker like George Bullock.
Too many moving parts right now but X remains cautiously optimistic Tennessee is going to finish strong.
'You should be getting used to this by now. Recruiting Year 3 of the Derek Dooley regime and information is well tough to come by. With less than 2 weeks left until National Signing Day, there are so many moving parts behind the scenes. There is a whole bunch of teeth gnashing and stomach churning going on… and that is the Tennessee coaching staff trying to keep these 21 commitments in the fold. Recruiting guys like me are getting ready to endure many a restless night between now and February 1st.
As we did for the Defensive Coordinator search, keep checking back right here as updates will be provided on a regular basis between now and February 1st for recruiting updates and updates on the coaching search(es).
First, let’s look at the coaching search. Fully anticipated at least two of the three remaining positions to be filled by week’s end. Still has time to happen. Things could come together on a couple of things between now and the time visitors start showing up on campus tomorrow evening.
With respect to the Special Team Coach, no secret here. Appears Tennessee has put all its eggs in the Rich Bisaccia basket. Tennessee has an offer on the table to him and are banking that Bisaccia will be able to slip out of his contract with the San Diego Chargers. If things are going to happen with Bisaccia, expect to hear something within the next 24 to 72 hours.
The other 2 open positions are intriguing. On the defensive line coach, Tennessee appears to have been spurned by its two top targets. If reports are true that John Palermo is the front runner, Tennessee has them a tough minded, tough as nails son of a gun who knows how to get the most out of kids. Palermo would be an excellent addition as a position coach for Tennessee.
I have heard so many names tied to the defensive backs coaching position. The one I hear more frequently than others is Derrick Ansley who is the defensive backs coach with the University of Central Florida. Sunseri worked with Ansley at Alabama. Ansley just recently signed on at UCF so I think Tennessee ends up going in another direction.
Something tells me the guy Tennessee really wants as a defensive backs coach is interested in coming but doesn’t want to leave his current employer in a bad spot until after National Signing Day. The longer this position goes unfilled the higher I think the probability is Tennessee makes a big time hire here.
This recruiting cycle is likely to be one of if not the oddest Tennessee has endured in recent memory. Losing 6 position coaches would normally marginalize a recruiting class especially at Tennessee; however, even being down 3 position coaches, Tennessee has done a remarkable job in holding this recruiting class together.
Sure, Tennessee has seen 3 committed prospects drop by the wayside since the first of January. Losing these three commitments though is not the end of the world as some media would have Tennessee followers believe. The targets Tennessee is chasing to fill the vacated spots in my opinion are upgrades over the kids that went their separate ways.
Anyway, as mentioned, two visit weekend left and then it’s National Signing Day. If Tennessee can hold serve with the committed prospects and the ones prospects "they feel good about" , 2 maybe 3 spots left to fill.
I don’t expect a huge number of prospects in to visit this weekend. Something tells me though to expect a surprise visitor or two. Things have been too quiet this week for there not to.
The one visitor confirmed is Deion Bonner from Carver High School in Georgia. Tennessee is looking for at least one more cornerback in this class to replace Kenneth Crawley who was one of the three prospects that de-committed a couple of weeks ago. Almost as soon as Coach Sunseri stepped on campus you heard Tennessee mentioned with Bonner. Bonner is a four star talent who made a five star mistake last summer. Before his transgression, Bonner’s had as an impressive offer list as any prospect in the country. His schools of choice were Alabama , Florida State and Georgia. Many schools discontinued their recruitment of Bonner after his transgression. Tennessee has invited Bonner for an official visit this upcoming weekend. This one could go Tennessee's way on signing day if everything checks out with the kid between now and then.
It will be interesting to see if cornerback Devian Shelton from California follows through and takes an official visit to Tennessee this weekend. . To be honest, Shelton is a prospect Tennessee has had a legitimate shot at for the longest time but he didn’t seem to be a priority. That has changed now. The question will be is Tennessee too late to the party to turn Shelton toward Tennessee. Shelton is an in your face type cornerback and ranked as the #24th best cornerback prospect in the country. Lately, his recruitment has been all over the place. He is committed to Oregon State but likes Nebraska and Tennessee an awful lot.
Offensive lineman Caleb Peterson from Auburn, Alabama, was scheduled to visit earlier in the week. However, Peterson recently committed to North Carolina so it remains to be seen whether he visits or not.
It may be too late in the recruiting cycle to fill this need but it appears Coach Sunseri is looking for more speed off the edge. One possible target is Alabama defensive end athlete JaMichael Winston. Winston, an Arkansas commitment, is anything but solid to Arkansas. He seems to be primed for the taking by another school. Question with Tennessee is can they make up enough ground over the next two weeks. Physically, Winston has a body type Tennessee does not have on campus right now. Right now, he is more of an athlete than he is a defensive end but he offers more than enough talent to work with. I’m not saying Winston is visiting Tennessee by any stretch. Winston Tennessee this past week and is trying to get one of his remaining official visits.
The best thing about National Signing Day coming and going is that X can’t wait to get going on the next recruiting cycle. 2013 is setting up to be a fantastic recruiting opportunity for Tennessee.
'After brief flirtations with Bo Davis (Texas) and Dan Brooks (Clemson), it appears Tennessee’s defensive line search is now pointed in the direction of John Palermo. I don’t know if Tennessee is hiring this individual but if they do here is what his background looks like
If you look at his resume, there aren’t many resumes better than Palermo’s. He played at Florida State back in the early 1970’s. Some of his coaching stops include Minnesota (4 years); Wisconsin (15 YEARS); Notre Dame (2 years); Washington Redskins ( 2 years).
Most of Palermo’s experience is coaching in college. Palermo began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at North Carolina State from 1977 to 1978 after three years at Bainbridge High School in Georgia. He did coach defensive line for the Washington Redskins two years (2008 & 2009). However, he is most respected for his time as a college defensive line coach.
Some of the high points include 30 plus years of coaching experience; teams he coached for appeared in 18 bowl games; coached defensive line for the Notre Dame 1988 National Championship team; coached defensive line for Wisconsin teams that won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl in 1993, 1998 and 1999.
Do the names Wendell Bryant and Erasmus James (Wisconsin) (both first round draft picks), Chris Zorich (Notre Dame), and Brian Orakpo (Washington Redskins) ring any bells? Palermo coached those guys.
At Wisconsin, he coached four first-team All-Americans, defensive lineman he coached were selected Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year four times (two of which were named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year) He has had eight of defensive linemen selected in the first six rounds of the NFL Draft, including two first rounder’s.
From 1988 to 1989, Palermo was the defensive line coach for Notre Dame, helping them win the National Championship in his first year. He coached Chris Zorich, a two-time consensus All-American and 1990 winner of the Lombardi Award, given annually to college football's best lineman or linebacker.
Palermo’s last position was defensive line coach with MTSU. He left that position in December of 2011. Think there may be been some philosophical differences between a few staff members and the head coach at MTSU though I can’t confirm that.
He has the reputation as a tough-minded, no nonsense coach who knows his craft very well.
'Tennessee picked up its twentieth football commitment, second in the last three days, as Louisiana running back Davante Bourque committed to Coach Dooley Sunday morning. Bourque's recruitment has been an interesting journey. Bourque committed to Texas A&M in May of 2011. One month later he decommitted from Texas A&M and committed to LSU. He recently decommitted from LSU because LSU wasn’t offering him the opportunity to play running back . LSU has a stable of talented running backs returning next season and Bourque would have been one of two running backs in LSU's 2012 recruiting class. LSU offered Bourque a faster track to the playing field on defense. As a running back at LSU, he was in for a long wait to see the playing field .
Tennessee is the only school recruiting Bourque exclusively as a running back. Bourque's lead recruiter for Tennessee is Jay Graham. Goes without saying, Coach Graham has done an excellent job getting this commitment on Tennessee's column.
Though Bourque is athletic enough to play a number of positions on offense or defense in college, his one cut and go running style fits into the exact type of running back Tennessee is seeking. Bourque's measurables are off the chart. A freak of an athlete, he stands 6'2'', weighs 210 pounds and runs 4.4 forty. Watching his tape, I'm a believer his measurables as reported by the recruiting services are accurate.
After watching his tape, Bourque needs a lot of fundamental work (ball protection (I.E., he is a left hand predominant ball carrier), needs to learn how to run behind his pads, how to finish runs, run with leverage, etc). However, his talent and potential are obvious. He is a tough tackle especially for smaller defensive backs one on one ... even linebackers have a tough time tackling him. On tape, he rarely went down on first contact. He also looks to have good skills as a receiver out of the backfield. If this kid works at it, he has a chance to be really, really good.
Bourque is a star gazers dream. He is rated as a high four star prospect. With his commitment, Tennessee jumps back into the top fifteen recruiting classes in the country with at least 4 spots remaining to fill out the recruiting class.
The next 2 1/2 weeks leading up to National Signing Day will be crazy. They always are. I would expect at least one if not both new additions to coaching staff to be in place before next recruiting weekend. I also expect you'll see a few new prospects show up being mentioned with interest in Tennessee. Speaking of next recruiting weekend, expect around 6 to 10 prospects in for official visits. More to follow on next weekend's visitors.
Also, my guess is Tennessee's new defensive coordinator has a few prospects in his back pocket that Alabama didn’t have room for that may wind up visiting Tennessee... especially at the cornerback position. Also, do not be surprised to see the current commitment list change just a bit over the next couple of weeks.
I'll Check back, you do the same.
'Here is “the list” prospects due in for the weekend. The way this Coordinator search is going that list could expand or contract by Friday evening/Saturday morning. If you are looking for any positives going into the weekend consider this is a holiday weekend and if worst comes to worst maybe you have a few prospects push back their visits for a day to give Tennessee a chance to get more coaches in place. Of course, kids have parents/guardians and you just don’t know whether their parents/guardians can make schedule adjustments this fast or not.
Here is the list that I have:
Wide Receiver Jason Croom committed to Tennessee
Wide Receiver Drae Bowles committed to Tennessee
JUCO Wide Receiver Demetrius Wilson
Korren Kirven, Defensive End/ Tackle uncommitted
Justin Shanks, Defensive Tackle (Florida State commitment) little iffy right now whether he shows)
Daniel O’Brien, Defensive Tackle (Tennessee commitment coming for unofficial visit last I heard watch the weather here)
Otha Peters, Linebacker committed to Tennessee
Richie Brown, Linebacker uncommitted
Davonte Borque, Running Back Former LSU commitment now uncommitted
George Bullock, Kicking Specialist committed to Tennessee
LaDarrell McNeil, Defensive Back committed to Tennessee
Justin King, Linebacker committed to Tennessee
On The New Hire:
SAM PITTMAN. I have to tell you Sam Pittman is a great hire. Sound position coach, great recruiter, and Pittman has an excellent recruiting network in the Carolinas which has been a real weak spot on this staff. Something that, from an institutional recruiting perspective, has been a mistake on Tennessee's part for a few years.
Consider that in the midst of all Carolina's off the field mischief and issues surrounding the Tar Hell program over the last couple of years. Pittman was responsible for North Carolina signing a banner recruiting class last year. So good the SCOUT/FOX SPORTS recruiting service named him 2011 ACC recruiter of the year.
I don’t know how much he can help Tennessee with this recruiting class but Tennessee needs 3 to 4 offensive lineman in its 2013 class and it needs to make inroads back into the schools in North Carolina especially western North Carolina. Pittman can help on both accounts.
I'm trying to give Coach Dooley the benefit of the doubt. Yes, it is never a good thing to lose so many coaches off a staff like Tennessee has in the last month and a half. Give him credit, Jay Graham and Sam Pittman are definite upgrades.
The Pittman thing happened so fast one has to think Coach Dooley had this one in the works for some period of time.
Harry Heistand is a good football coach and has received most of the blame for the running game woes last season. Fair or unfair who knows. I do know he just wasn’t a great fit. Notre Dame is likely a better fit for him.
'INSTATE RECRUITING 2013 - A FIRST LOOK AHEAD
With one month to go until the 2012 recruiting cycle comes to a close, it is never too early look ahead to recruiting 2013.
This is the first of many posts identifying targets on Tennessee’s 2013 recruiting board. This first post of the new year is going to focus solely on Tennessee kids that are getting a look from Tennessee as well as other major college football programs.
As far back as memory serves, high school football in the state of Tennessee has received some not so flattering press. In fairness, some of it was deserved. However, high school football in state has substantially improved in the last few years.
Facilities upgrades, coaching upgrades, individual and team participation in skills camps, year round emphasis on strength and conditioning, and the overall commitment of more schools (and players) have all contributed to improved play in general across the state. These upgrades have resulted elevated the level of competition and as a result, the caliber of football prospect being produced by the state of Tennessee schools has too improved.
2012 has been a banner year for in state football prospects. There are at least 20 (maybe closer to 30) prospects in the state of Tennessee will sign scholarship papers with FBS programs when the smoke clears in February 1.
I digress for one second. It is not my place to be critical of who Tennessee decides to offer a scholarship to and who they don’t. However, it is fair to be curious why Tennessee was slow to recruit or completely passed on recruiting a number of Tennessee kids that are being recruited by other SEC schools of consequence. To be fair, Tennessee has commitments from in state prospects Cody Blanc, George Bullock, and Drae Bowles and they may not be done in state as a defensive tackle from the Humboldt area named Tevin Bryson and Will Redmond, an athlete from Memphis, are two kids who will likely visit Tennessee in January.
This time last year, I commented that, in my opinion, Tennessee’s 2012 recruiting efforts were lagging behind that of other schools specifically referring player evaluations and getting offers out early to kids. I thought it was a fair criticism as prospects and families continue to make their college choices sooner and sooner. Tennessee has improved in this area but respectfully speaking there is still room for them to do better in this area.
With respect to in state recruiting in 2013, overall, the class is better than the 2012 class. The point is arguable though. The top 15 to 20 prospects this state produces in 2013 can flat out play at most any program. Many of the top 15 to 20 in state prospects for 2013 are already being recruited by schools across the country.
So here you go. Below are names of in state prospects you will be sure to hear more about as the 2012 recruiting cycle winds down, junior days begin, and the 2013 recruiting cycle ramps up. These are in no particular order.
In State Quarterbacks
Everybody loves the quarterback talk. There are many good quarterback prospects in state next season. As many as 5 to 6 in state quarterback prospects will draw interest from FBS programs. Tennessee has shown early interest at least the three in state quarterback prospects below . To be honest, the top two quarterbacks on the 2013 board are Christian Hackenburg from Fork Union, Virginia, and X's favorite Daryl Richardson from Seffner, Florida. Both Hackenburg and Richardson like Tennessee and each already has an offer from Tennessee. Both Hackenburg and Richardson are national recruits already holding multiple offers, and will be recruited by all the major football programs. Here are the three in state quarterback prospects I’m watching early in 2013 in Tennessee.
Quarterback Max Staver, Brentwood , Tennessee (Brentwood Academy High School) 6’5” 230 lbs
Staver is not flashy or as athletic as other quarterback prospects but Staver has a big time arm which has drawn the attention of many a recruiter. Staver is one of those quarterback prospects that by the time he finishes the summer camp tour this summer he will have double digit scholarship offers. He is really just coming into his own at quarterback. He has a lot of technique work. He plays in a spread type offense and doesn’t take snaps under center. His skill set and the raw talent are obvious when you watch his film. He already holds offers from Purdue and Louisville.
Quarterback Reese Phillips Chattanooga, Tennessee (Signal Mountain High) 6’2 ½ ” 185 lbs
By the end of 2013, the best in state quarterback could very well be south of Knoxville down Interstate I-75 in Signal Mountain.
That would be Reese Phillips of Signal Mountain High School. Some pre-season publications already have Phillips rated as the top Tennessee prospect for 2013. Phillips comes from a football family. His grandfather and uncle both played at Georgia. Phillips has a big arm and has the athleticism to run away from defenders if necessary. The recruiting process is already under way for Phillips. He has received interest from Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Duke and Tennessee. Phillips will be a tough evaluation. Phillips has a nice arm, put great touch of the ball, and will put up huge numbers next season. It will be fair to question the competition he plays against week in and week out. This spring and summer during camps will be very important for Phillips emergence as a big time FBS prospect.
My guess is if Tennessee offers this kid he is a Tennessee Vol.
Quarterback Charlie High, Knoxville, Tennessee (Christian Academy of Knoxville) 6’1” 170 lbs
This is one prospect X will have a tough time being impartial about. Having watched Charlie High grow up playing organized football around the area to the cusp of his senior year at CAK, it is nice to see a prospect’s hard work and dedication pay off. At CAK last season (his junior year and first season as the full time quarterback), High racked up a state championship and finished with absolutely ridiculous statistics. He topped it off with 7 touchdowns in the state championship game. Look for more of the same next season as CAK returns 10 of their offensive starters next season (including an offensive lineman named Patrick Dalton who will be heavily recruited in 2014). Therefore, it is very likely CAK will continue to afford High the opportunity to ring up all kinds of numbers and possibly another state championship. Tennessee is interested in Charlie High and my guess is whether a scholarship offer is extended or not will depend on spring evaluations and his performance during summer camp at Tennessee. High has a good arm but in fairness some prospects on Tennessee’s board have better arms. What he does have is great touch, great command of the CAK offense, and great command. He needs to gain some weight and knowing his background he probably isn’t done growing yet. High comes from a Tennessee family and he grew up attending Tennessee games. Vanderbilt and Auburn are two of the other programs that have shown interest in High to date. His offer list will undoubtedly grow as 2013 recruiting heats up.
Now let's get to prospects at other positions
Running Back/Athlete Cornelius Elder, Nashville, Tennessee, Ensworth High School, 5’11”/170 lbs
Elder is one of the best athletes in the state of Tennessee period. As a football prospect, he projects as a running back, slot receiver or cornerback in college. He will likely receive consideration and offers to play basketball on the collegiate level as well. Elder who looks to be a decent between the tackles runner who possesses tremendous speed, and has home-run hitting speed if he gets a crease or gets to the edge. One of the things college football recruiters like about him as a running back is his one-cut, plant your foot and go ability. Elder already has a Tennessee offer and he is not secret to the rest of the SEC either. If Elder is committed to play football in college, he could easily be the #1 prospect in the state of Tennessee this time next year.
Athlete Jalen Ramsey, Nashville, Tennessee, Brentwood Academy High School, 5’11” 180 lbs
Jalen Ramsey has the inside track on being the Number 1 football prospect in the state of Tennessee in 2013. I believe right now, he is the best football prospect in the state regardless of whether he is 2012 or a 2013 recruit. He is that good of a player. Though I think he ends up at cornerback in college, Ramsay could play running back, receiver, or safety. He is fast, athletic, and fluid. He makes plays and is one of those prospects who look faster and better than everyone else on the field. As a running back he is tough to tackle and once he is into space he is hard to catch. Ramsay is a speed guy as uses his speed as an asset as a defensive back. He is also not afraid to stick his facemask in there and make a tackle. Tennessee offered Ramsay long ago. Ramsay, along with a few others in this list, is a priority in the 2013 class for Tennessee.
Defensive End Frank Herron, Memphis, Tennessee (Memphis Central) 6’5” 250 lbs
Herron reminds me a current Vol Cameron Clear in terms of size and athleticism. Coincidentally, Herron and Clear were teammates at Memphis Central. Too, Herron was present with Clear at the ceremony when Basketball VOL Jarnell Stokes committed to Tennessee (check the tape). More to the point, Herron grew up concentrating on basketball and has only played organized football for 2 years. Last season he recorded 47 tackles, 7 sacks, and 7 tackles for loss. It will be interesting to see how much improvement he makes between his junior and senior seasons. Herron was one of the first 2013 Tennessee kids to receive an offer. He also has offers from Mississippi State and Ole Miss. More offers will certainly follow. Early on Herron do like Tennessee but I would expect the recruiting battle for Herron to be fierce. Look for him to be on campus during the spring and the summer for camp.
Wide Receiver/Athlete Camiron Patrick, Lenoir City, Tennessee (Lenoir City High) 6’2” 205 lbs
Glad to see Tennessee identify and acknowledge an athletically gifted kid in their backyard. In terms of athleticism, Patrick has the entire package. Good size, frame to add more weight, good speed, explosive and plays with a bit of an attitude. Patrick could play wide receiver, running back or linebacker in college. Tennessee, who has offered, is recruiting Patrick as a wide receiver. Patrick is prospect who grew up following Tennessee. He is receiving interest from schools all over the country including USC, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame and a host of other schools.
Defensive End/Tackle Jason Carr, Memphis, Tennessee (White Station High School) 6’6” 250 lbs
Carr is an athlete playing defensive line at White Station High in Memphis. As a football prospect, he is raw but good enough to receive interest from Tennessee and many other schools in the Southeast. Carr, along with his teammate defensive back Donald Gray, are both firmly placed on Tennessee’s recruiting board for 2013. As a junior, Carr recorded 16 sacks by himself.... Last season, Tennessee recorded 16 sacks for the season.
Defensive end is a position of need in the 2013 class and there won’t be too many prospects across the Southeast that draw more recruiting attention than Frank Herron (above) and Jason Carr.
Offensive Lineman Austin Sanders, Cleveland, Tennessee (Bradley Central), 6’5” 300 lbs
Sanders was the first Tennessee commitment to the 2013 class. He camped at Tennessee last summer, earn a scholarship offer, and committed a few weeks after receiving the offer. Sanders grew up a Tennessee Vol and playing at Tennessee fulfills a lifelong dream. Sanders is a solid offensive line prospect and is already being projected by the Recruiting Services as one of the top offensive line prospects in the country for 2013. Sanders is already weighs close to 300 pounds and he does not look heavy at all. He carries his weight well and has fairly good quickness for a 300 pounder. Already tabbed an ESPN 150 2013 prospect, Sanders will assuredly see his stock rise between now and the next recruiting cycle. Offensive line is a position of need in 2013. Tennessee has landed a good one here.
Running Back/Athlete Jordan Wilkins, Memphis, Tennessee (St. Benedict High) 6’1” 195 lbs
Yes it is very early to put any stock in ranking or ratings for 2013 prospects. However, these services do just that because you like me consume that information. Right now, 13 months from National Signing Day 2013, many believe Wilkins will wind up being the best running back prospect in the state and possibly the best prospect at any position. After watching his tape, it isn’t hard to argue that Wilkins is the best of the bunch.
Wilkins is listed as an all purpose back. For a high school junior, physically, he looks ready to play in the SEC
right now. He is a terrific athlete with good speed. He just looks like a football player on tape. Very good instincts. Wilkins already has a Tennessee offer. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss have also offered. I don’t know if Tennessee is a front runner for Wilkins but there is interest there by both parties.
Offensive Lineman Brett Dockery, Knoxville, Tennessee (Farragut High) 6’4” 285 lbs
Tennessee will likely sign three to four offensive lineman in the 2013 class. As mentioned above, one in state offensive lineman (Austin Sanders) is already committed to Tennessee. Wouldn’t it be something if Tennessee could fill all its offensive line needs in 2013 without leaving the state? Could be possible. Dockery is a legitimate talent already receiving interest from Auburn, Clemson, and Tennessee among others. Dockery jumped onto the recruiting charts last summer with his performance at summer camps across the Southeast. He did not disappoint on the field as a junior at Farragut either. Tennessee is interested as are a number of SEC and ACC schools. Right now, Auburn looks to be the team to beat for Dockery.
Offensive Lineman Rob Burleigh, Jackson, Tennessee (Jackson South Side High) 6’5” 295 lbs
Burleigh is another in state SEC caliber offensive lineman that will be heavily recruited by SEC schools. Burleigh projected as a tackle in college. He has been at Tennessee for camp and visits. Right now, Vanderbilt looks to have an edge on everyone else.
Kicking Specialist Jonathan King, Knoxville, Tennessee (Farragut High School) 6”1”175 lbs
Rarely will you see a kicking specialist listed as a top prospect in the Tennessee. It is also rare that you see a high school quarterback double as his team's kicking
specialist. Meet Jonathan King. King has a big-time leg. King has shown the ability to drive the ball through the end zone on kickoffs and already has 5 field goals over fifty yards with his senior year to go. King right now is likely the best kicker and kicking prospect in Knoxville at any level. Expect King to get even better when he is able to focus on kicking full time instead of having to split reps between kicking and quarterbacking. Tennessee is recruiting King along with other SEC and ACC schools.
Athlete Ezekiel Koko, Alcoa, Tennessee (Alcoa High School) 5’9” 170 lbs
Koko was a prospect I couldn’t wait to see play last season. However, a knee injury during a preseason scrimmage forced Koko to miss his junior season before it began. It will be interesting to see how Koko rebounds from the injury and responds to his senior season. If he bounces back from the injury and is as good as the Alcoa people believe he is, we’ll be hearing a lot more about Koko now if it wasn’t for the knee injury.
People around the Alcoa program say Koko was their best all around player before the knee injury. Look for Koko to rebound and have a big senior year. If he does, Koko emerges as one of the best talents in the state.
Athlete Donald Gray, Memphis, Tennessee (White Station High School) 5’9” 160 lbs
Gray is a teammate of defensive lineman Donald Carr (mentioned above). While it is still to be determined whether Gray plays offense or defense in college, Gray is making a name for himself as a defensive back at White Station. He is an aggressive tackler, explosive player, and possesses the one thing defensive backs must have … speed. Gray is a bit on the small side but he still has time to grow and fill out. Tennessee likes this prospect. I understand he holds a Tennessee offer.
Linebacker Marcus Robinson, Memphis, Tennessee (East High) 6’3” 215 lbs
Robinson is an impressive-looking athlete (6’3” 215 pounds) and projects as a middle linebacker in college. His tape is something to watch. When he hits ball carriers, they stop in their tracks or go backwards. He doesn’t look like a terribly instinctive linebacker but in high school his speed and quickness allow him to recover and make plays. Whether Robinson becomes more of a recruiting priority to Tennessee depends largely on how Tennessee closes with linebackers in its 2012 class. Robinson, the best linebacker prospect in the state for 2013, is an SEC talent.
Defensive tackle Herbert Moore, Memphis, Tennessee (East High), 6’1” 335 lbs
The people that follow this recruiting stuff for a living say Herbert Moore is the best defensive tackle prospect in the state for 2013 and one of the best defensive tackle prospects the state has turned out in years. With defensive tackles always being a priority, it is a little surprising Tennessee hasn’t been more proactive in recruiting Moore when Vanderbilt and North Carolina have already extended offers. Tennessee historically has not met with great success in recent years recruiting kids from Memphis East maybe that has something to do with it. Back to Moore, he is a little heavy but it is a powerful kid who plays with good leverage.
Running Back, Shane Tucker, Memphis, Tennessee (Memphis University School) 6”0” 200 lbs
There are prospects like Shane Tucker that emerge every single year. Tucker is not mentioned in the conversation as the top or one of the top running backs in the state. He is probably on that second tier. However, Tucker is one of those prospects to watch through the spring, summer camps, and on field performance next season. Tucker is a between the tackles runner with 4.5 speed. My guess is Tucker will be tough to pull away from the Mississippi schools. Tucker is a top ten 2013 prospect in the state of Tennessee and nationally ranked as the Number 46th best running back.
Running Back/Athlete, Marquis Morton, Shelbyville, Tennessee (Shelbyville Central High) 5'11” 185 lbs
Morton is one of those under the radar prospects that you’ll likely start hearing more about as recruiting 2013 gets cranked up.
In his junior season, Morton rushed for 1,288 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, was on the receiving end of 20 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns, and also returned punts and kickoffs. Defensively, Morton was in on 50 plus tackles, four interceptions, four fumble recoveries and scored three touchdowns. Morton was named the Tennessee District 8-AAA Most Valuable Player. Morton is on Tennessee’s radar and he is receiving interest from other SEC schools including Vanderbilt, and the Mississippi schools. Expect Morton to be on campus this spring and to camp at Tennessee this summer.
Athlete, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Clarksville, Tennessee (Northeast High School) 6'1" 205 lbs
In middle Tennessee, most of the 2013 recruiting buzz is about Cornelius Elder and Jalen Ramsay from the Nashville area , people should not overlook Jalen Reeves-Maybin who preps just up the Interstate in Clarksville. Check out these 2011 statistics Reeves-Maybin put up. On offense as a quarterback, he accounted for over 1,200 yards running and almost 1,500 yards throwing and 31 total touchdown. Defensively, as a linebacker, he recorded more than 100 tackles. Long term Reeves-Maybin is a linebacker prospect at the major college level. Though he doesn’t have any college offers , Tennessee is one of a few SEC schools already showing interest in Reeves-Maybin. He is another prospect you will hear more about in 2013.
As good as 2013 recruiting is for in state prospects…. 2014 is BETTER! There are at least 4 if not more prospects in the greater Knoxville area that will be
recruited by high level FBS schools. Maybe even more!
As Usual. Nothing but love for the in state kids.
'First thing... the guy has got to come out and say something, which he is thank goodness. The program is taking such a hit somebody has to let the fan base know there is still a football program.
Next thing Dooley needs to get a defensive coordinator in place immediately. The linebacker and special teams coaches better be damn good recruiters.
He has to do something to get some positive press going a commitment or something... you know the Fulmer approach.
Wilcox was recruiting Daniel McCullers primarily. I don't think losing Wilcox makes much difference with what McCullers does.
To me losing Wilcox not that big of a deal.
Sirmon on the other hand. He was hands down the best recruiter on the staff.
Had a great linebacker class going. Sirmon was largely responsible for putting it together.
Otha Peters, Dalton Santos for sure are up in the air.
This hurts with noncommitted prospect Richie Brown who was considering Tennessee largely because of Peter Sirmon.
Sirmon was recruiting Kenneth Crawley from DC... I think the Crawley commitment was up in the air anyway.
You can’t make this stuff up. There are ways to handle things like Arnett and Henderson. Dooley is rewriting the book on how not to handle them.
Getting to the point where it is embarrassing.
If he wasn't before, Dooley is on the clock
'You think Coach Dooley and Coach Chaney like their quarterback commitment and soon to be Vol Nathan Peterman?
This time last year Tennessee, much like many other schools, was all about hotshot five star quarterback prospect Gunner Kiel.
When Gunner Kiel decommitted from Indiana earlier this year, Tennessee was one of the initial schools Kiel had an interest in attending once he re-opened his commitment.
He called Tennessee , wanted to visit, but was told effectively thanks but no thanks that Tennessee had its 2012 quarterback in Nathan Peterman.
Frankly, Peterman is a better prospect than Kiel in my opinion. Peterman has done it against way better competition in Florida than Kiel has in Indiana.
In Peterman, you can see the improvement in watching his tape from year to year, Also, there is a thought Peterman may a better team guy for Tennessee.
I don’t want to say Kiel is overrated. He is a big kid with a big arm who has put up some impressive. I think it is fair to question the competition level he put those numbers up against. In watching the film, Peterman is every bit the prospect Kiel is.
It of course is not my decision I’m just a guy who follows recruiting. Every time I see more film of Peterman I’m convinced Tennessee snuck in to Florida and may have gotten the best quarterback in the state of Florida out from under the nose of Florida, Florida State, and Miami. Kid has a chance to be really good.
Lastly, Tennessee didn’t want to take 2 quarterbacks in this class because they are in on some many really good quarterback prospects in the 2013 class.
12/22/11:'X' Says:'Few quick observations.
Was Wednesday a body blow to Tennessee's 2012 recruiting class? 6 weeks remain until National Signing Day but fans seem ready to step off the ledge. A couple of committed prospects chose to go in another direction. Happens every day in recruiting. First time Coach Dooley has lost a commitment going on three recruiting classes now. Tennessee still has a top fifteen recruiting class with only a few spots left, right? Why all the angst.
Two things happened Wednesday that are of concern.
First, Tennessee signed 1 of 4 prospects that would likely provide immediate help next season for a defense that got worn down, ran through, and passed over at various times last season. Remember?
The immediate help and in some respects much of the success of the 2012 recruiting class were based upon signing not one but multiple Junior College defensive lineman. The importance of signing a Sentimore, Jacobs, and an Autry has not been a secret to anyone. The staff knows how important signing these prospects or prospects like them is.... as does the Tennessee fan base. Tennessee got one and he is a good one. For this phase of recruiting to be deemed a success, Tennessee needs to sign more than one JUCO defensive lineman.
Second and this bears watching for the next six weeks. Tennessee's commitments are receiving enormous pressure from other schools. Happens every year but this year the pressure appears to be ratcheted up a notch. Hey, Tennessee has a good group of committed prospects. However, it is not a secret to anyone the 2012 season is critical to Coach Dooley longevity at Tennessee. National writers are already discussing just how hot Coach Dooley's seat is. The Kentucky game and its aftermath certainly didn’t help. All these kinds of things are being put in front of the kids committed to Tennessee every day.
In some respects, Coach Dooley should be complimented for putting together as good a recruiting class as Tennessee has at this point. They will have their hands full keeping the class together until National Signing Day.
Lets break down what happened yesterday.....
Defensive Back Otis Jacobs. Jacobs shows up on Tennessee’s radar after Texas A&M fires Mike Sherman. You hear about Tennessee and Otis Jacobs for a few days. A hastily scheduled official visit to Tennessee followed up by a trip to Louisiana by Tennessee’s staff to close the deal with Mom and BAM Otis Jacobs commits to Tennessee.
After committing to Tennessee last Friday, Jacobs then takes the victory tour around the local Knoxville media circuit on Saturday. 4 days later. Jacobs is a Texas A&M Aggie. My understanding is when Jacobs signed off on Tuesday evening he was a Tennessee Vol.
Otis Jacobs to Texas A&M is not the end of the world. You hate to lose the speed he brings. Tennessee has a crowd in the secondary. Good corners but not great corners. In addition, Tennessee already has multiple cornerbacks committed in this class: (Kenneth Crawley and Daniel Gray both high school prospects ); Tino Thomas (who projects as a cornerback ) will be on campus in two weeks; ,and, Waldo Orta who redshirted last year will be ready for spring practice (not sure if Orta will play corner or safety to be honest ) . Maybe the depth chart is less crowded at A&M. He has two years to play. Can’t say that I blame him BUT a difference making cornerback can play at Tennessee in a hurry.
Now for the heavy lifting
Defensive end Denico Autry. Tennessee led for Autry for months. There is no doubt in my mind the Tennessee staff felt like Autry was coming to Tennessee. My feeling is Tennessee’s staff had been told this on more than one occasion. Literally, out of nowhere, Autry announced last week he would sign with Mississippi State which indeed he did. He brought size and a pass rushing presence off the edge. Something lacking with the current defense. Again, Tennessee led for Autry for months. Losing Autry was a blow.
Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs. Jacobs committed to Tennessee in July/August. Took visits to other schools but publicly remained committed to Tennessee. On signing day, Jacobs picks Florida. Two things told you Tennessee was in trouble with Jacobs.
First, Jacobs, still committed to Tennessee, runs off on an official visit knowing all along the Tennessee staff is coming for an in home visit with his family. I may have pulled the offer if I was Head Coach and that happened to me. Second, why do you have to "announce" your college choice if you plan on signing with the school you have been committed to for months? That is unless the school you have been committed to is not the choice. Nonetheless, Jacobs is a big body who would have been a nice compliment to Mo Couch on the inside.
Losing Jacobs and Autry hurts. It is really interesting how Tennessee was seemingly in the driver’s seat to sign both these prospects up until a week ago. The whole dynamic with each kid seemed to change. As I have stated ad nauseam, Jacobs and Autry would have played early and often at Tennessee.
You are now hearing Autry and Jacobs’ JUCO coach(es) may have had issue with Tennessee over something that occurred during the recruitment of current Tennessee starting cornerback Izaeau Lanier. Lanier, Autry and Jacobs were all JUCO teammates a couple of years ago. I don’t know if anything happened between the Tennessee staff and the JUCO coaching staff or not. Maybe it is just a rumor. Maybe a bit of sour grapes.
Let's say this. Whether there is anything to this alleged issue or not, it certainly appears Tennessee didn’t receive any help from the JUCO coaching staff while recruiting either Autry and Jacobs.
You hope the lead recruiter for Autry and Jacobs, the recruiting coordinator, and the head football coach at the University of Tennessee knew if there was an issue or not. Identifying issues, roadblocks, obstacles such as this are basic and fundamental component of doing background work .... you know part being a recruiter at any level...
You would also believe if there was an issue it would have been addressed months ago. A school would not invest months of recruiting time and thousands of dollars recruiting kids when there were unresolved issues or hurt feelings with those who have decision making influence with any prospect.
Let’s talk about what Tennessee got yesterday. Darrington Sentimore is a big time talent. Of the JUCO lineman Tennessee was recruiting, Sentimore is the lone prospect who has proven he can play in the SEC. Sentimore is a big time pass rusher. He will likely play both defensive tackle and strong side defensive end at Tennessee. Hopefully, Sentimore can help improve a pass rush that recorded only 16 sacks last season. Sentimore will be on campus in January.
Where does Tennessee go from here?
There is one other JUCO defensive line option and that is Daniel McCullers. McCullers from Georgia Military Institute is a big body (6’4 ish 350 lbs) suited more to stuff the run than rush the passer. Tennessee has been recruiting McCullers and as hard as any team. McCullers likes Tennessee and could make a decision most any time. McCullers though would not be on campus until June. Even with the defection of Otis and Damien Jacobs, spots in Tennessee's recruiting class are at a premium. There is a spot for Daniel McCullers if he wants to be a VOL.
Tennessee has 6 weeks before National Signing Day to land more help on the defensive line. You will see the names like defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson, Tevin Bryson, Korren Kirven, and Justin Shanks mentioned prominently with Tennessee. Maybe another JUCO defensive lineman who doesn’t graduate until May. In the coming weeks, I will more on these prospects.
Hoping Santa leaves Tennessee the names of a couple of defensive ends who can provide speed and a pass rush off the edge .
12/20/11:'X' Says:‘Florida 6A Player of the Year. Classification 6A in Florida is generally viewed as the toughest
Some think he is the best high school quarterback coming out of Florida this recruiting cycle.
If you are a tape watcher, you can see his improvement in technique from year to year while in high school.
This is one of Tennessee's better pick-ups that people dont talk about
Tennessee fans should be excited that Peterman will be starting class at UT on January 9th
Here is the link.
12/14/11:'X' Says:'Recruiting Odds and Ends
Yesterday was a tough recruiting day for Tennessee (more to follow on that). Rationally, you can’t sign them all and you win a few and lose a few you really want. Tennessee wanted Denico Autry and now Autry has given every indication he plans to sign with Mississippi State next Monday. If there is a silver lining behind losing out on one prospect at the top of your defensive line board (and possibly two depending on what Damien Jacobs does), it would be that Tennessee has almost two full months of time is left to recover. With all the coaching movement going on and more surely to follow, Tennessee, with playing time available for defensive lineman, is in a position to still recover. Finding another prospect as talented as Autry this late in the recruiting cycle with is tough though. I will get to Autry and Jacobs later but ......
First, let’s start with Cordarrelle Patterson. Tennessee has been recruiting Patterson all along under the presumption he would take care of academic requirements allowing him to be a mid-term enrollee. Tennessee, who has led for the longest time for Patterson, really, really wanted him here in January. Patterson is not going to be able to enroll at midterm which was “the plan” all along. Getting Patterson to campus in January was key. Arriving in January would allow Patterson to work with Bray, Worley, and the rest of the team for winter workouts, spring practices and summer workouts. 8 full months of getting on the same page with the rest of the team before the first game. My opinion is the longer this recruitment goes along the chances of Cordarrelle Patterson winding up at Tennessee diminish.
His recruitment will now drag on until National Signing Day and now he is mentioning taking visits to non-SEC schools like Miami and Baylor...........hmmmmmm
The spots remaining to fill out Tennessee’s recruiting class are few and far between. Sure, one and maybe two additional spots have opened up . With all of Tennessee's needs, can you really afford to hold a scholarship for Patterson only to be left at the altar on National Signing Day? Patterson is such a talent you find a spot for him but the dynamics with Patterson’s recruitment have definitely shifted away from Tennessee .
It’s recruiting. Things can change. They could change tomorrow. Just passing on bits and pieces of what I can divulge . Hope it isn’t correct.
If the Patterson thing goes south and Tennessee has room for another receiver, remember the name Quinshad Davis. Davis is 6'3" 185 lbs from Gaffney, South Carolina. Davis is the GATORADE Player of the Year in South Carolina and he could be one Tennessee grabs out from under noses of South Carolina and Clemson (neither school looks to have the space for him) .
Tennessee has commitments from wide receiver prospects Pig Howard and Jason Croom (who is the best high school wide receiver prospect in Georgia this recruiting cycle). Though Keithon Redding and Tennessee prospect Drae Bowles project as wide receivers in college, both prospects could easily wind up playing other positions at Tennessee.
Speaking of Pig Howard.
I know Jim Chaney is an excellent Offensive Coordinator but I really hope he has or is watching Howard's high school tape and looks at all the different ways Howard was used on offense. Howard’s high school coach did a really good job of finding so many different ways to use him on offense. This kid has a chance to be a dynamic playmaker for Tennessee . One like hasn't been seen around Tennessee in years. ....Give him the ball next fall and give him a chance.
Coach Dooley and Coach Chaney reeled in a big one last week as tight end prospect Justin Meredith from TL Hanna High School in Anderson, SC. verbally committed to Tennessee. Meredith went public with his commitment Saturday (heaven knows the Tennessee fan base needed some good information Saturday to offset that basketball debacle Saturday afternoon). Even though Meredith didn’t go public until Saturday, Coach Dooley and Coach Chaney wrapped this one up with an in home visit late in the week.
Say what you want about our Head Football Coach and I have been frustrated as the next Tennessee fan with some of his game day missteps among other things, Coach Dooley is money when it comes to closing the deal with the mommas and the papas.
We told you right here in this very space as early as May 11 (check the tape) Meredith was the tight end prospect that sat high top Tennessee's recruiting board. Even though Meredith verbally committed to North Carolina very early in the recruiting cycle, Tennessee never quit recruiting the kid.
Meredith had fifteen offers from schools like Notre Dame, Clemson, South Carolina, and Auburn but it came down to Tennessee and North Carolina. No secret here that North Carolina's much publicized issues with the NCAA were a major factor with Meredith being open to the continued pursuit by Tennessee. Also, unless North Carolina won the ACC last season, it was widely thought the North Carolina 2011 coaching staff would be replaced at season’s end which they were. These two factors really helped Tennessee's cause with the Meredith.
Here is what I thought was interesting all through last football season. Meredith, remaining “committed” to North Carolina the entire time, spent many a game day weekend on Tennessee's campus. It was clear Tennessee has had the recruiting momentum with Meredith most of the football season and cashed it in last weekend.
Even though Tennessee had the momentum, it was still tough for Meredith to tell North Carolina no.
ESPN has Meredith ranked as the #6 best tight end prospect in the country. For you star gazers, RIVALS and SCOUT have Meredith rated as a high 3 star after having him rated as a 4 star prospect most of the season. Meredith, who will be participating in the Under Armour All American game is a big kid with a frame that will allow him to comfortably gain 15 to 25 pounds. I give Meredith a bump because he is an early enrollee and will be on campus in early January. Meredith is not a project by any stretch of the imagination. None of Tennessee's tight ends set the world on fire last season with their blocking nor did they distinguish themselves as down the field playmakers. I guess what I’m trying to stay is don’t sleep on him. Meredith will receive every opportunity to get on the field early next year.
Getting back to the JUCOs.
Tennessee’s class took a gut shot when Denico Autry announced he was choosing Mississippi State over Tennessee. Autry wasn’t committed to Tennessee....but it sure felt that way for the longest time. Listen , I will be the first to say I was wrong about Autry. I wasn’t the only one though. Mark this down. Autry to Mississippi State was a shock to many that are much closer to the situation than you or I. Autry was a prospect targeted to step in and play very early for Tennessee in 2012. I speculate on this but I believe Autry had given some on Tennessee's staff indications he was headed to Tennessee.
So what about current Tennessee commitment defensive tackle Damien Jacobs. Jacobs, the roommate of Autry, has been a Tennessee commitment since late summer. However, he has acted like anything but a Tennessee commitment over the last few weeks. Some of Jacobs’ comments of late don' t sound like a prospect committed to Tennessee. Honestly, Jacobs seem to be looking for reasons not to choose Tennessee.
Tennessee had long felt they were in good shape with both Autry and Jacobs. However, if Ole Miss or Mississippi State wants a kid who plays at a junior college in Mississippi and is being recruited by other SEC schools, Ole Miss or Mississippi State generally gets their man (or in this case it would be their men.
In terms of JUCO defensive lineman Tennessee could sign during the early JUCO recruiting period, Darrington Sentimore sits right there atop of the reshuffled defensive line board. Sentimore can play folks. Tennessee has to like its position with Sentimore. There is one school of thought at Tennessee that Sentimore is more of a SEC ready prospect than either Autry or Jacobs. Sentimore now becomes a huge priority for Tennessee. We should know shortly, Sentimore is a midterm enrollee.
We should watch Daniel McCullers also. McCullers a mammoth nose tackle is set to choose between Tennessee and Alabama. Alabama does hold the lead for McCullers but Alabama might be running into a problem Tennessee would love to have. Too many defensive line prospects wanting to commit with only a spot or two available. If Alabama does have a numbers issue, I wonder how long BAMA can hold off making a decision on McCullers.
In terms of other JUCO defensive tackles, Tennessee will likely crank up its recruiting and push for an official visit is Toby Johnson (6’4” 290 lbs) from Hutchison Community College in Kansas. Little surprised we have not paid more attention to Johnson. Johnson graduates in May and will have 3 years of eligibility left. Understandably Tennessee would have some ground to make up in a hurry with Johnson.
Other Recruiting Notes.
For the remainder of the week, watch Tennessee and JUCO cornerback Otis Jacobs. Jacobs is scheduled to make an official visit to Tennessee mid-week. Jacobs, originally from Louisiana, is committed to Texas A&M. However, with the dismissal of A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman and most of the former A&M staff , Jacobs has re-opened his recruitment.
If Jacobs is indeed an early enrollee as he has repeatedly stated, Tennessee is in a position to grab a potential big time lockdown cornerback.
People who have seen Jacobs play think he has a shot to start at cornerback next year. You don’t take him unless you think he is that good. If you take Jacobs that gives you four corner back prospects so far in this class (Tino Thomas, Daniel Gray, and Kenneth Crawley). With all the needs this team has, 4 cornerbacks seems one too many. For various reasons though, I don’t see how you turn away any one of the three corner backs already committed. Thomas and Crawley may have a chance to contribute very early and Gray may be the best one of the lot in two to three years. Certainly glad I don’t make these calls.
So how many are spots are left?
Again, only those in the inner circle know how many actual spots are left in the 2012 recruiting class. If Jacobs heads to Mississippi State, Tennessee will definitely try and close with one possibly two more defensive lineman. Why do I say that? Even when Autry and Jacobs both looked to be VOLS, Tennessee had been lining up the following defensive lineman for official visits (defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson, Tevin Bryson, Korren Kirven, and Justin Shanks); a running back who can step in and play next season; and, as I mentioned above, another cornerback (see Otis Jacobs). You can expect to see more defensive lineman in for official visits in January over above the defensive tackles mentioned above.
Then, consider targets like athletes Beniquez Brown and David Perkins. Tennessee has been recruiting the whiz out of both of these kids. Both are highly regarded athletes that will likely spend their college careers on defense. Both have Tennessee in their top group of finalists.
Lastly, Tennessee is a finalist it appears for mammoth offensive lineman Matt Cochran from California who loved his official visit to Tennessee two weekends ago . Also, what happens if the departure of Charlie Weis from Florida causes five star offensive lineman DJ Humphries, currently committed to Florida , to check out his options. Remember Humphries chose Florida over Tennessee in a close one during the summer. Tennessee has been in contact with Humphries.
What happened today with Autry is exactly why recruiting never stops. You may think you have one wrapped up but you don’t know. Tennessee has at least five committed prospects still taking visits. I just mentioned Damien Jacobs who has been to Mississippi State, Florida, and Texas A&M; Committed defensive backs LaDarrell McNeil and Kenneth Crawley have taken visits to other schools and have other visits scheduled; commitment Dalton Santos continues to receive strong interest from Arkansas. Do you think the new Texas A&M staff will let Santos leave Texas for Tennessee without a fight? Of course not.; and, committed defensive end Latroy Lewis took an official visit to Pittsburgh this past weekend. If Lewis was just taking a visit to take a visit, I can think of a number of locations, I would rather visit than Pittsburgh in early December.
You never stop recruiting even if you think you have only a couple of spots to fill. You are never certain about where kids are going to school until they show up for class in January or you have his signature on a fax'd letter of intent come the first of February.
Best Recruiting News of Tuesday
The best news of the day is the Tennessee search for a Special Teams/Tight Ends Coach remains open. The “leader” according to some was James Shibest the former Ole Miss Coach who held a similar position under the deposed regime of Houston Nutt. Fortunately Shibest accepted a similar position with Memphis University.
Thank Goodness. I say this not because Shibest is a bad coach. In fact, he is a good coach and has won awards for his special teams coaching prowess. Tennessee can and needs to do better though. This is a position on the staff where an upgrade in most every way is necessary and required.
Last season, the tight ends didn’t meet expectations. I expected better blocking as a group from the tight ends and I expected either true freshman Brendan Downs or Cameron Clear to be more of a threat on the offense. Neither one did much to be honest. I guess you can argue the special teams were better in Year 1 than in Year 0 (Tennessee was able to field a punt in last year compared to Coach Dooley's first year ) but overall one can argue collectively special teams regressed last year.
If I'm Dooley, I’m looking for someone who has experience coaching special teams/tight ends. One of my main requirements though is to hire a coach who knows his way around the high schools of North Carolina. My whole point is take advantage of this opening and upgrade the staff’s overall recruiting capabilities. It is needed. Tennessee doesn’t need better players. They need a bunch of much better players. North Carolina high schools are full of great football prospects who can play in the SEC and specifically at Tennessee.
We have a coach who is all about tradition. Traditionally, some of the best Tennessee Volunteers grew up in North Carolina. Now is a perfect time to jump back into North Carolina in a big way. NC State is a program treading water. North Carolina who made an interesting head coaching choice, is in transition. Wake Forest, Clemson, and South Carolina get a player now and then. North Carolina is the one state where the borders in terms of recruiting are relatively open.
I will be interested to see who is hired.
Merry Christmas if I don't see you between now and then.
12/6/11:'X' Says:Here is how I roll ….. My deal is that I provide recruiting information for Basilio’s followers and my fans right here. You know recruiting information related to prospects Tennessee’s staff is targeting. No Gator, BAMAr, War Eagle, or Bulldog nonsense here. As I am able to do so I provide bits and pieces of information I pick up from my sources that may bode well for Tennessee's recruiting efforts or sometimes I am the bearer of bad news.
If you have read my postings since the early summer, you know I’m a big fan of most of Tennessee commitments especially Jason Croom, Nathan Peterman, Otha Peters, Alden Hill, and Drae Bowles. The tape I watched of commitment Daniel O’Brien wasn’t the greatest, but the tape was his junior film and kids mature a lot changes in 12 twelve months to be fair.
Basilio, and he does to me every year at this time, always wants me to take what I do a step further. For the last 3 or 4 years, Basilio always is after me to predict where these 17, 18, and 19 year old young men are going to choose to attend college. Sheesh, I would be better served using a Ouija board. You just don’t know about what is going through their minds until they sign the papers. Or , in the case of early enrollees (i.e. mid-termers), where they show up for the first day of class in January.
After going through the recruiting process myself (years ago I must add) and I'm sure many others who stop in here to read this did as well, I have some idea of all the outside influences these young men are dealing with as their decision draws near. Sure it is cool to receive all the notoriety for having exceptional athletic talent but it a tough process and a life changing event for these kids and their families.
I will try and do my best to “predict” where a handful of Tennessee prospects scheduled to make their decisions public over the next two weeks will attend college but it is truly an exercise in futility.
The 2012 recruiting cycle for Tennessee has been a very interesting one to follow. One of the more interesting ones that I have followed to be honest and it isn't close to being over. Tennessee started slowly at one time ranked 50 something in the country recruiting if I recall. Then, Tennessee hit a hot streak in the late summer. One commitment after another for days it seemed. As the season started, commitments tended to taper off as you expected they would. Tennessee is sitting on 19 public commitments so theoretically Tennessee has 6 spots to fill. Factor in Tino Thomas a 2011 signee who spent the fall semester at home in Memphis rehabbing a bum shoulder who plans to be on campus in January to begin his football career. Thomas counts against the 2012 class as well. I have stated here time and time again that since mid football season the Tennessee staff has continued to recruit like they had more than 5 or 6 spots to fill. I think they have plenty of spots if the find the right kids to fill them.
I not only posted this but I told Basilio to tell the recruitniks not to fall in love with the Tennessee commitment list. Because of certain team deficiencies seen as the season unfolded, the commitment list was “fluid” meaning there were commitments that would effectively get recruited over as the recruiting cycle plays itself out. You saw the first casualty over the weekend as Tennessee and running back commitment Imani Cross parted ways.
Stay tuned for the next round. Listen, don’t shoot the messenger. Tennessee needs better, bigger and faster players. If you can land a better player compared to one you have committed and you have to part ways with a player committed to you for awhile, you have to do it. No secret each of these 25 spots is significant for Coach Dooley just as the off-season and upcoming season.
Let’s look at the recruiting landscape over the next two to three weeks for Tennessee. Tennessee could get really hot recruiting in the next couple of weeks or they could take a gut shot to some extent. Here are a few prospects to watch.
To be honest, there are many who follow Tennessee recruiting that believe many of the chips on the table will fall Tennessee’s way during the next couple of weeks. If so, Tennessee would be on the verge of a top ten recruiting class with more than a month left until National Signing Day.
Here is a look at what is in front of Tennessee over the weeks leading up to Christmas.
First, wide receiver/athlete Alton “Pig “ Howard a diminutive speedster extraordinaire from Orlando, Florida. Howard is scheduled to choose between Central Florida and Tennessee this week. I have always thought Howard was a key for Tennessee’s recruiting class. I also felt like there was no way Central Florida would allow Howard to leave Orlando. Howard looks to be a natural in the special teams/return game, well-suited as a slot receiver position, and a player who can also line up in the backfield as a tailback or in the wildcat (I’m shuddering as I type wildcat right here). Howard too is an early enrollee at this writing.
Darrin Hinshaw is the lead recruiter for Tennessee with Howard. All signs seemed to point to Tennessee being the leader since Howard visited in late October. However, Howard has grown up around the Central Florida program, has deep relationships with a number of the remaining Central Florida staff members, knows a bunch of the Central Florida players well, and has family ties to the Central Florida program. In summary, Howard will have a tough time pulling the trigger for Tennessee instead of announcing for program he knows well and is a few miles away from his home. I'm going with what I hear not my gut. I think Howard announces for Tennessee.
Next, Justin Meredith (6’5” 215 pounds) TL Hanna High, Anderson, South Carolina. Meredith is still a North Carolina commitment but Meredith’s recruitment right now can best be summed up as a tossup between Tennessee and North Carolina. Tennessee had all the momentum with Meredith for most of the football season. Meredith apparently is having a tough time finalizing his decision. Right now, he is holding off seeing which direction North Carolina goes with respect to hiring a new head coach and how significant the NCAA sanctions levied against North Carolina will be. Meredith is another early enrollee. If Meredith says yes to Tennessee he definitely has a scholarship according to what sources told me last evening. Meredith has to make a decision in the near future if he plans on attending college in January. Tennessee has done a fantastic job recruiting Meredith though I think he winds up at North Carolina. Honestly, this is a recruitment that is too close to call and will not be finalized until North Carolina announces a Head Coach and he sits down with the Meredith family.
Cordarrelle Patterson (6'4" 205 lbs.) Hutchinson Community College, Kansas. For 2012 recruiting on the offensive side of the ball, Patterson is at the top of the recruiting board (followed closely by a running back). Up until the least few week, I have felt good about Tennessee’s position with Patterson. Georgia and Arkansas have made me very uncomfortable in their pursuit of Patterson. Here is what I will say. Patterson’s lead recruiter at Tennessee is Darrin Hinshaw. Patterson’s position coach at Tennessee will be Darrin Hinshaw. From what I know Darrin Hinshaw is by far the best recruiter on Tennessee’s staff not named Peter Sirmon.
I don’t want to misspeak here. At one time, Patterson was projected to be a mid-term enrollee. I believe that has changed and he will not sign until February so this one will be a nail biter for another few weeks. He took his official visit to Tennessee for the Vanderbilt game and had a wonderful visit. I still think Tennessee leads but Tennessee is going to have to withstand at least two or three more official visits Patterson plans to take. The Arkansas visit if he takes it concerns me more than the Georgia visit.
Denico Autry. (6'6" 250 lbs.) Defensive End East Mississippi Community College, Scooba, Mississippi. On the defensive side of the ball, landing Denico Autry, current Tennessee commitment defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, and Darrington Sentimore are as important to this recruiting class as any other prospect or group of prospects in this class. These three likely would dramatically alter the look of the 2012 Tennessee defensive front. As I have said before, Autry , as well as Jacobs and Sentimore are prospects you just have to sign and have them contribute in a big way to catch the other guys.
This Autry kid is worth a look on film. Let’s face it. Autry is being recruited to Tennessee step in and start from Day 1. No doubt in my mind. He is that type of prospect. Alabama wanted him but they have ran out of room and he will not visit there. The mere fact Alabama wanted Autry is all the endorsement I need on this kid’s skills.
Autry is a mid-term guy and still has one or two possibly official visits left. I mentioned Damien Jacobs above. He and Denico Autry are Junior College roommates and there is a line of thinking they intend to play college football together. Jacobs is another mid-term enrollee as well who would definitely contribute next season if he signs with Tennessee. Jacobs signed with Florida State out of high school and has been committed to Tennessee since August.
Today, I believe Tennessee’s main competition for Autry is Mississippi State. Today, I’m picking Tennessee to prevail here.
Darrington Sentimore. Junior College Defensive Lineman. (6’3” 275 lbs). Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Sentimore appears to be the one prospect you have a reasonable expectation that he should provide an immediate upgrade to the Tennessee defensive line if he winds up at Tennessee. Sentimore signed with Alabama out of high school , played one season for Alabama playing in 11 games, and then was kicked off the team for some mischief. He wound up at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He took an official visit to Tennessee early in the football season and will be signing during the early JUCO signing period later this month. I think he is as key to this recruiting class as a Denico Autry or any other kid. Sentimore has an SEC ready defensive line body, has already “done it” in the SEC, and plays with a mean streak. Have to like Tennessee right now with Sentimore.
Daniel McCullers (6 ‘5” 350 lbs (plus) defensive nose tackle Georgia Military College. In my opinion, I believe Tennessee let this one sort of get away from them. I think McCullers had Tennessee as his leader during the summer but Tennessee slowed down their recruiting of McCullers for some reason. It may have been academic related though I understand any issue related to academics has been cleared up. At this point landing McCullers is going to be a tough task. McCullers has been on campus for an official visit and has been receptive to Tennessee's efforts. In my opinion though McCullers is likely headed to Alabama unless Alabama runs into a numbers crunch. If for some reason, McCullers doesn’t go to Alabama I think Tennessee is his second choice.
One comment about the above four JUCO defensive lineman. I would be shocked if Tennessee signed all four. In fact, with the numbers crunch relative to remaining scholarships, I don’t see that happening. However, if Tennessee was fortunate to sign three of the four JUCO defensive lineman (which is possible), Coach Dooley has significantly upgraded his defensive front. You get three of these four Junior College defensive lineman and hope like heck two of the three can help you out very early next season. Signing these kids would be a nice upgrade to the defensive line ... and these kids will be here for spring practice and workouts to boot.
Of the current commitments, Tennessee has, depending on who you speak with 8 to 11 kids that will enroll at mid-term in January. You add four maybe five of these kids looking to make their decisions in the next few days/weeks and half or more of the 2012 recruiting class is in the bank come early January.
If these chips fall right for Tennessee, the last 3 weeks of recruiting would be spent staying tight with the commitments till sign National Signing Day, swinging for the fences on a big-time running back, spending oodles of time Cordarrelle Patterson, recruiting more speed, and recruiting 2013 targets.
There are a few other Tennessee targets making decisions soon that project to enroll in school at mid term. Chris Bivens a defensive back from Florida is one. Tennessee has ran hot and cold on Bivens. I don’t think Bivens chooses Tennessee later this week. I think there are at least three other defensive back targets on Tennessee’s defensive back board they like more than Bivens at this point.
Welcome Jay Graham. You can be assured Mike Davis (who visited Tennessee last weekend) and the Mathers kid from the mid state will be hearing from Graham if they haven’t already. Jay gives Tennessee recruiting in roads into both North and South Carolina something this staff had been lacking. There will be a couple of new names show up on the running back board with the addition of Jay Graham to the staff. Tennessee will sign another running back in this class in addition to Que Watson and Alden Hill. It is just a question of which running back prospects they prioritize.
With Jay Graham, you wonder if any of the kids he was recruiting for South Carolina will have any interest in Tennessee.
The two I would watch are running backs. One prospect to watch is Kendric Salley. Salley is one of the better 2012 running back prospects in South Carolina. He was being recruited by Jay Graham and is committed to South Carolina. With Lattimore returning and the emergence of Brandon Wilde as another running back threat for South Carolina, you just wonder is Salley takes a look at Tennessee.
Another running back prospect Graham was recruiting at South Carolina was Jabo Lee from Dillon, South Carolina. Lee may be one to watch. He is a 4.4 guy in the 40 and has pretty decent looking film. Both Tennessee and South Carolina have been recruiting Lee though Im not sure how big a priority Lee has been with Tennessee (Rivals actually shows Lee having an offer Tennessee).
Anyway, just a couple of names that may be worth watching for the running back position along with Mike Davis and a couple of others
Peace & Merry Christmas
11/2/11:'X' Says:'And speaking of recruiting…. If there is a glimmer of hope or a bright spot in all this gloom which the Tennessee fan base has endured since mid-September, Tennessee’s recruiting is looking very positive this 2nd day of November.
If recruiting is your deal, it is mine, much of the hay (or much more than normal) will be in the barn in November and December. Many of the targets discussed below on Tennessee’s board that make a “very good” class an “outstanding” class will make their decisions during this time frame with expectations to enroll in school in Janaury.
Remember back in the summer when folks were freaking over Tennessee’s recruiting class be ranked 50something? Without much bravado,Tennessee’s staff has put together a recruiting class currently ranked 12th or 13th in the country.
Tennessee has 18 public football commitments. Depending on who you speak with, Tennessee will likely close with 7 or 8 more kids in this 2012 class.
I know 18 plus 8 equals too many but building a recruiting class is always a work in progress. Things can and will happen such as grey shirts, de-committments, or personnel issues with the current roster. Any one or all these things can change recruiting priorities. Who knows but it is possible we lose a commitment or two between now and National Signing Day. Didn’t happen to Tennessee last year but it typically happens every year at every school.
I can only go on things I'm told. With that said, it sure seems like Tennessee’s staff is recruiting like they have more than 7 or 8 spots left in this class. I don’t know whether to be encouraged about that or concerned to be truthful. It is going to be interesting to see how the last third of this signing class shakes out and much of it will shakeout over the next few weeks. Undecided January enrollees will be finalizing their decisions in the next few weeks. Many of Tennessee top targets fall into this category.
I think, if you follow this recruiting thing at all, it is reasonable to expect the Tennessee coaching staff to close with a top ten class based on the number of highly regarded prospects Tennessee is “ in on” (i.e., recruiting the hardest).
What must happen with these last few spots for Tennessee to go from a “very good” class to an “outstanding” class?
First land at least two more Junior College defensive lineman.
Tennessee has one JUCO defensive tackle commitment now and that is Damien Jacobs. He is a big body who will be given every opportunity to contribute from Day 1.
He is trying to get things in order so he can enroll and be on campus in January and will be expected to show up in a big way in September.
Take Jacobs but take 2 more JUCO defensive lineman.
You have watched our defensive line this year as have I. There has been some improvement in run defense but I attribute that as much to the improved play of the linebackers and a commitment in defensive scheming to stop the run not wholesale in the play of defensive lineman.
Also, only one current defensive lineman that plays up the field on any kind of consistent basis and he is leaving. From the remaining group of defensive line returnees, I see one playmaker and that is Mo Couch.. he is improving every game. In my opinion, the holes in the passing defense (aside from some personnel issues with the defensive backs ) are largely because of a consistently ineffective pass rush.
If you believe (and I think this staff does) these JUCO defensive lineman give you an instant upgrade or makeover, take two of the following three prospects. You will need them in order to have a shot to compete at a high level in the SEC next two seasons until the younger defensive lineman are ready.
If Denico Autry (JUCO defensive end), Darrington Sentimore (JUCO defensive tackle/end), and/or Daniel McCullers (JUCO nose tackle) all being heavily recruited by Tennessee, want to sign,take Autry and the first other one that wants to play for Tennessee. We should know something soon on three of the four prospects. All but McCullers are expected (never a given with JUCOs) to be January enrollees.
The other spot (or spots) on defense is likely going to be a defensive back. Over the last few weeks, just from the uptick or emphasis in defensive back recruiting activity, there appears to be a renewed emphasis on getting faster kids in the secondary. Makes sense. The Brewer injury complicates the depth defensive backfield further. Expect to continue to hear Tennessee mentioned with defensive back prospects like Sheldon Dawson (from Memphis); Jordan Diggs, Karl Joseph, Chris Blackwell, and Chris Bivens (all from Florida); and, Trae Elston (Alabama). I would look for most of these prospects to official visit to Tennessee. Of this list, Im most intrigued with Elston and Dawson. In terms of athleticism, they both stand out. Dawson has had an exceptional senior season and Tennessee is trying to get back in the mix with Dawson in a big way.
Before I move to the offensive side of the formula, here is what I would do if I were king for a day. Lets say Tennessee does sign the 3 JUCO lineman. I would identify the highest rated high school defensive lineman end on the board you know the one difference maker that you think you have the best chance of landing on National Signing Day (it could be Jonathan Bullard, Darius Hamilton, or Korren Kirven Frances Kallon or someone) and I would pour my remaining defensive line heart and soul recruiting efforts into landing that prospect.
On offense, you need more speed and playmakers all over the place. Again, the top guy on the offense/playmaker board is this JUCO all everything wide receiver/return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson from Hutchinson Community College. Patterson is ranked as the top JUCO wide receiver in the country. Tennessee is in Patterson’s top two (some say we lead. Im not ready to go there yet). Patterson will be visiting November 18th and will make a decision in December.
Another playmaker Tennessee is taking a hard look at is a high school prospect named Alton "Pig" Howard from Orlando, Florida. Howard looks like a cant miss prospect. Ever watched a film and it looked like everyone else was in slow motion except for one guy. That is the feeling I get watching Howard's film. He could or can help out in the wildcat, as a running back, wide receiver, or kick return specialist. Howard was in for an official visit earlier this season.As with Patterson, Tennessee is in the thick of it with Howard.
We’ll know something soon. Both project to be January enrollees.
What else must happen with these last few spots for Tennessee to go from a “very good” class to an “outstanding” class?
Close with both Patterson and Howard. Immediate playing time is available for difference makers and these two recruits have the potential to be real difference makers. I believe next season the passing game will have to again carry the running game. There will be plenty of opportunities to make plays for each of these prospects.
One of the remaining spots in Tennessee’s recruiting class could likely go to current North Carolina commitment tight end Justin Meredith. Meredith likes Tennessee and has been on campus numerous times. Looks like he is waiting for North Carolina to get its due from the NCAA before formally reopening his recruitment. As with virtually everyone we have discussed so far, Meredith is another early enrollee. Meredith actually has an opportunity for immediate playing time next year. With Rivera being a senior and the backup tight ends not distinguishing themselves, Meredith could easily work his way into the rotation early next season. Meredith is a smart kid whose athleticism jumps off the film at you. Meredith is taking an official visit to Tennessee on November 18th.
What else must happen with these last few spots for Tennessee to go from a “very good” class to an “outstanding” class?
And yes I know Tennessee has two running backs committed. Both nice prospects to be honest though I am convinced Tennessee takes another running back. I think in a certain way landing a running back that could come in and take the running back job next season is just as important as the JUCO defensive lineman and play making wide receivers to this class.
There are a couple of running back prospects committed to other schools Tennessee has continued to recruit. I believe the lack of a full time running back coach is a liability. Lets see what happens in that respect. However, during the month of November, I do believe a number of new names are getting ready to emerge on the running back board. Lot of behind the scenes work going on with respect to running back recruiting.
So those are my keys.
Remake the offensive coaching staff (hire a running back coach); sign JUCO defensive lineman; sign the two playmakers on the outside; and, add one more running back. Use the remaining spot or spots for the best athlete or best available prospect. Sounds straightforward doesnt it?
Easier written than done.
10/6/11:'X' Says:'As the weather takes its first cool turn, it finally is beginning to Feel like football season. And, as we pass the quarter turn in the
2011 football campaign season, the 2012 recruiting season is now REALLY beginning to heat up.
Tennessee, after a blistering late summer commitment run plus the recent addition of Florida defensive lineman Trent Taylor, is poised and positioned for the final recruiting stretch. A couple of nice wins against formidable SEC opponents would do wonders to further Tennessee's recruiting momentum.
Tennessee is sitting on 17 public commitments. Tennessee defensive tackle target Danny O’Brien, a bruiser from Michigan, is scheduled to make his college decision
public later today. Tennessee was one of the first schools to offer O’Brien and he is atop Tennessee’s defensive tackle board. It won’t be a shock to anyone if Danny O’Brien announces for Tennessee.
Speaking of numbers. If O’Brien ends up being commitment #18, whatabout Tino Thomas and Eddrick Loften? Remember 2011 signee Thomas? He is greyshirting and is at home rehabbing a shoulder injury. He is scheduled to enroll in January. Loften, an almost Vol For Life for like 2 years now, is honing his skills at a Junior College but has been Recently shelved by injury.
Wow, 5 or 6 spots left and a Vol Navy boatload of needs!
If all the above fell into place meaning there are no defections from the commitment list and no greyshirting, my question is how in the world do you fit all the kids you need to fill all the holes you have into 5 scholarships? Answer is you cant.
Tennessee is recruiting like they have more than 5 or 6 scholarships spots to fill and most believe they in fact plan on taking more than just 5 prospects. One would have to think you will see a defection or two from the current commitment list (happens to be the best of programs) and certainly greyshirting a prospect or two could be a possibility.
17 (or 18) commitments sounds like a large number for early October. Tennessee faced a similar issue last fall with recruiting numbers. Can you fault Tennessee though? Anymore, the stretch run for recruiting seems to start earlier and earlier. Prospects are wanting to get the
process over sooner and sooner and who can blame them.
Most schools including Tennessee shy away from offering prospects official visits during football season but schools are changing their thinking in this regard. The elephant in the corner is that more prospects are no longer waiting until February to sign/announce their
college decisions. Many are getting their high school coursework in order, graduating in 3 ½ years, making their college decision, and showing up for college in January. It is what it is. Coach Fulmer was slow to respond to this with all due respect. Coach Kiffin got it and
so does Coach Dooley.
Tennessee, like many other schools, believes these early enrollees are golden especially in Tennessee’s case when trying to rebuild a program. Schools may bump a prospect up a notch or two in their rankings if that particular prospect is an early enrollee versus maybe a higher rated prospect that can’t get to campus until June. I don’t know if this was the situation with recent commitment from Trent Taylor, who is an early enrollee, but it makes sense to me and seems likely.
Now , with between 5 and who knows how many spots left in the class, Tennessee has a fairly sizeable pool of prospects they remain in regular contact with. This “pool” of prospects includes kids they have built relationships with over the past year or even longer; kids Tennessee evaluated earlier in the recruiting cycle that have gone out and impressed on the field during their senior seasons. These kids are now legitimate Tennessee targets; and, kids committed to other schools that Tennessee hasn’t stopped recruiting. (Sheldon Dawson who I will talk more about below is a good example of a prospect who had a so so summer camp but has seen his stock increase by his
improvement/performance on the football field. )
Here are a few of the prospects Tennessee is actively recruiting. Most of these names aren’t new. Their names are no secret to those who follow Tennessee’s recruiting. Hopefully, we can provide some information here you weren’t aware of regarding some or all of the following prospects or at least make you think. What you should take away from reading this is it isn't above the names going forward as much as it is about the numbers (or lack thereof).
Denico Autry. (6'6" 250 lbs.) Defensive End. East Mississippi Community College, Scooba, Mississippi. Denico Autry is certainly not a new name to those who follow Tennessee’s recruiting. Across the defensive front, Autry is likely at the top of Tennessee’s list. This is the kind of prospect, if you are Tennessee, you just have to have to
catch up with the other guys.
You can watch film, look at measurables, and so on with Autry but basically the reason Autry is high on my list is simple. Alabama wants him. Let’s face it, the fact that Alabama wants Autry is better than anything I can see on tape.
Look, in 2011, Alabama wanted JUCO defensive lineman Jesse Williams as did Tennessee. Williams ended up at Alabama and is a starter. This is why you recruit JUCOs … to start. You expect Autry to come in and be a starter not to play a few plays here and there. Some think Autry will
never get away from the Mississippi schools. My thought is this one is a UT/BAMA battle.
Tennessee has a commitment from Autry’s teammate (and I believe roommate as well) defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, a former Florida State signee. If it comes down to immediate playing time, Tennessee should be in good shape with Autry.
Justin Meredith (6’5” 215 pounds) TL Hanna High, Anderson, South Carolina. It seems almost a certainty that one of Tennessee’s remaining scholarships is going to a tight end. Meredith, a North Carolina commitment, has continued to take Tennessee’s phone calls even after going public with a commitment to North Carolina. Through all the turmoil at North Carolina, Meredith remains committed to North Carolina. However, Tennessee is squarely in the mix. Meredith is athletic and looks to have fairly good speed. He plays multiple positions on offense for his high school team which could transition well for what Tennessee likes to do with its tight ends.
In order to play tight end in the SEC or ACC for that matter, Meredith will have to add weight and get stronger. It is difficult to project how effective he can be early in his career. You never know how fast he can add the weight and also how well he can adjust to playing with the added weight.
With the size, he also needs work as a blocker. Watching his film, he certainly isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and make an effort to block defensive lineman he just needs technique work. Meredith is expected to be on campus for either the Georgia or the LSU game.
Sean Price (6’5” 210 lbs.) Citra, Florida. Price, a tight end prospect from Citra, Florida, has been atop Tennessee's tight end board since very early in the 2012 recruiting cycle. Even though Price committed to South Florida rather early, Tennessee has continued to stay in contact with Price. In fact, Tennessee coaches attended one of his games earlier this season. Tennessee has continued to court Price and he has continued to listen. The feeling is Tennessee has some momentum with Price. Believe it when he shows up for a game or a visit.
Look, South Florida had a good early run until they ran into a so-so Pittsburgh team. The South Florida offense is largely built around a dual threat quarterback that is a better runner than thrower. Plus, South Florida does not utilize their tight ends prominently in the passing game. Im sure this has been pointed out to Mr. Price. If Price leaves Florida and that is a real question right now, you have to like Tennessee here. He may be on campus for the LSU game.
A side not regarding both tight end targets. It is unusual that both tight end targets atop Tennessee’s list (Meredith and Price) are committed to other schools. It is even more unusual to say, even though both are committed to other schools, Tennessee seems to have momentum with both kids right now (maybe a little more momentum with Meredith than Price because Price hasn’t been to campus yet).
Karl Joseph (5’11” 190 lbs.) Edgewater High School, Orlando, Florida. It is really fun to watch video of a high school game where you are especially interested to check out one prospect ((Alton Howard for example) you’ll read more on Howard later) and then you keep seeing some other guy , a teammate, show up making play after play. That was my introduction to Karl Joseph.
On defense, Joseph plays strong safety or linebacker and likes to play close to the line of scrimmage. He does not shy away from contact, has excellent closing speed, and seems to have good football instincts from what I viewed. The Tennessee staff seemed to run hot and cold on Joseph early on. However, their recruitment of Joseph has really ramped up in the last few weeks. Joseph is a top 100 player in the state of Florida and is rated as a top 30 safety nationally. Again, in a class where the needs are limitless and scholarships available are, the question is do you turn a prospect like Joseph away if he wants to commit?
Alton Howard (5’9” 175 lbs.) Edgewater High School, Orlando, Florida. Howard is another prospect Tennessee has seemed to run cold and hot with for most of the spring and summer. Tennessee has made up a lot of recruiting turf with Howard. I wouldn’t go as far to say Tennessee is Howard’s leader but they are definitely in that conversation. Howard is a top 40 prospect in the state of Florida and one of the top receiver/athlete prospects in the Southeast. He possesses the one thing Tennessee needs more of ….. speed. Reportedly he runs a 4.39 forty. He looks plenty fast on film. Howard would provide Jim Chaney with yet another weapon and Howard would also upgrade the return game. Watch his film and see for yourself. He doesn’t run the greatest routes but he does catch the ball with his hands and I have seen him get caught by anyone yet.
The Howard recruitment will ramp up quickly as he is on schedule to graduate from high school in December and enroll in January. Depending on who you speak with, Howard is headed to Cincinnati, Central Florida or Tennessee. All make sense. Kind of. Cincinnati has been recruiting Howard the longest; he has a brother that plays for Central Florida; and, a cousin at Tennessee. Tennessee has some momentum here.
Right now, it appears both Joseph and Howard will be in town for the Georgia game. Lets see where Howard stands after taking in a game day at Tennessee. Darrin Hinshaw is the lead recruiter for both prospects.
Korren Kirven (6’4” 275 lbs.) Brookville High School, Lynchburg, Virginia. Of the 20 plus defensive tackles Tennessee has extended scholarship offers to in the 2012 recruiting cycle, Kirven is flat out the best defensive tackle prospect of the lot ….in my opinion. Some close to the staff will privately tell you this as well. He is quick, he plays low, and can use his hands effectively for a young guy.
All signs have long pointed toward Kirven committing to Virginia Tech. Makes sense he is a stone’s throw away from Blacksburg. However, he has continued to weigh his options and has been very receptive to Tennessee.
Don’t be surprised if Kirven took an official visit to Tennessee. Then again, don’t be surprised if Kirven commits to Virginia Tech any day. This is a prospect who has played his recruiting cards close to his vest. Kirven is another one of those prospects you need to sign to catch up.
If Tennessee does find room for another defensive tackle in the 2012 class, likely targets include: Daniel McCullers a mountain of a prospect who currently attends Georgia Military College. McCullers looks like an Alabama/Tennessee battle that is if either school has room for another defensive tackle; Fredrick Walker from Barnesville, Georgia, a slightly under the radar prospect who Tennessee continues to recruit. Walker has had a solid senior season and is receiving attention from many Southern schools including SEC schools; or, current Florida State commitment Justin Shanks. Shanks is another prospect committed to another school with whom Tennessee continues to maintain a relationship.
Cordarrelle Patterson (6'4" 205 lbs.) Hutchinson Community College, Kansas. Of all the remaining targets on Tennessee's 2012 Tennessee's recruiting board, Patterson likely occupies the overall top spot. Patterson looks to be an exceptional talent and a difference maker. I'm led to believe Tennessee’s staff feels that way about Patterson.
As a freshman at Hutchinson Community College, Patterson led the Conference in kick returns with an average of 34.2 yards per return (two touchdowns); averaged 23.4 yards on per punt return; and, as a receiver, had 52 catches for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns.
His sophomore year, he is on target to exceed those numbers. To date, Patterson has 25 catches for 432 yards and 8 touchdowns and he has almost a 49 yard per kickoff return average with 2 more touchdowns. Tennessee has felt good about their position with Patterson for some time. We'll know soon. Patterson is also a December graduate and a January enrollee. Look for Patterson to take his official visit to Tennessee later in the season. Appears to be a bit of optimism here with Patterson and Tennessee though many other schools are actively recruiting Patterson including Georgia and Auburn.
Running Back. I get this question every day. So here goes. Yes, I do believe Tennessee would like to add one more running back with one of the remaining scholarships. The prospect at the top of the list leads us southwest to Blinn Junior College in Texas to Marion Grice Last news out of Blinn concerning Grice and Tennessee is that Grice may take an official visit to Tennessee. Even if he does visit, Tennessee has a bunch of work to do in order to get Grice to sign with Tennessee. He is a Texas kid with offers from Texas schools. My guess is he stays in Texas and ends up at A&M or one of the other directional Texas schools. Arkansas is involved here with Grice as well. Arkansas is a heck of a lot closer to Texas than Knoxville…..
With respect to other possible running backs prospects, Tennessee has remained contact with a couple of running back prospects committed to SEC schools. Plus, there is an uncommitted running back prospect in the Northeast and a couple in Georgia that continue to receive phone calls. Some new targets here may pop up on the running back board. Possibly have more information on the other prospects later this month.
Before you get ahead of yourself though, 2 of Tennessee’s 17 commitments to date are running back prospects Alden Hill and Imani Cross. These kids are fast, big bodied running backs. Both are good prospects. If you are looking for a speed guy, Alton Howard could be that guy. He is not a between the tackles runner per se though he can do a lot of things out of the backfield.
Don’t forget in state offensive lineman Andrew Jelks. Jelks, a long time Vol fan, seems to be the one offensive line prospect Tennessee would take in this class. He planned to commit back in August and decided to take his time/enjoy the process and attention. He is now in the midst of taking all of his official visits. Time may be running out to take an offensive lineman in the 2012 class given all the other needs. Just saying.
Weekend Visitors. Huge recruiting weekend for Tennessee. UT Commitment Dalton Santos, already a cult hero in Knoxville, will be in town along with Edgewater Florida teammates Karl Joseph and Alton Howard for official visits.
Santos and Howard are likely January enrollees.
UT commitments Justin King, Jason Croom, and Drae Bowles are scheduled to be on campus.
Prospects Tennessee continues to recruit but are either committed or leaning to other schools include Georgia defensive line prospects Kenderius Whitehead and Jordan Jenkins; and, Memphis commitment Sheldon Dawson.
Whitehead and Jenkins are excellent prospects. Tennessee is recruiting each but leads for neither one.
If you like to watch interesting recruiting battles take shape, sit back and watch what unfolds with the recruitment of Memphis defensive back/athlete Sheldon Dawson.
Dawson showed up at Tennessee's summer camp and had a good but not great performance. Shortly afterward, Dawson committed to Larry Porter who happens to be the Head Coach of the University of Memphis football team.... for now. Memphis football is equivalent to a dumpster fire. Porter will be fortunate to make it until seasons end and could be relieved of his coaching duties before you finish reading Basilio’s blog. anytime.
Schools like Ole Miss, Cincinnati, Arkansas, and Tennessee have continued to pursue Dawson. Dawson is in the midst of having an excellent senior football season and has impressed Tennessee with his play. I was told for what it is worth that Dawson is a prospect who Tennessee would take regardless of numbers.
Dawson is a college cornerback who would like an opportunity at running back in college. Again, Tennessee has continued to stay in contact with Dawson and he has continued to be receptive to the contact. This one will be interesting and the only thing I could say for sure is this kid will likely end up anywhere but the University of Memphis.
Plenty of 2013 prospects will be in attendance as well. We’ll start looking at these prospects in December.
Welcome Eric Ainge & Jerry Colquitt to da family.
Stay tuned for more
8/30/11:'X' Says:On Thursday, Lake Gibson High School defensive lineman Trent Taylor verbally committed to the University of Tennessee. With Taylor's commitment, Tennessee has 17 public commitments for its 2012 signing class.
Some background on Taylor. Early on in the 2012 recruiting cycle, Florida State was led for Taylor and it looked liked Taylor was headed to Tallahassee. However, Florida State had a good run in the early spring of acquiring commitments from a number of high profile defensive line commitments and they simply didn't have room for Taylor. The other
Florida schools liked Taylor as well. After Taylor recognized Florida State was headed in another direction, he committed to Miami.
Taylor is an intriguing prospect and a good pick up for Tennessee. Again, I don't pay any attention to stars or recruiting service rankings, the fact that all the Florida schools liked Taylor and in reviewing his film, I feel Taylor is another solid piece in place to filling the crucial defensive line needs which is key for this class.
He is every bit of 6'3" 235-240 lbs (looks a little bigger on film), he carries his weight well, and from his film he looks like very athletic prospect. Just a few casual observations about his film. What stands out to me is he is quicker than fast, has good football instincts, uses his hands particularly well to get off or away from would be blockers, and he made some very nice plays against what looked to be fairly good competition.
It was particularly impressive to see Taylor cover receivers in the flat and to drop back into pass coverage. He looked fairly natural and athletic in doing so.
Taylor looks to be headed forJanuary enrollment at Tennessee. If he can get to Tennessee in January and go through conditioning work and spring practice, I would expect Taylor to break into the defensive line rotation next fall.
As recruiting heats up, it will be very interesting to see how Tennessee manages the recruiting numbers from here until the first Wednesday in February.
First, you can almost book that Tennessee's commitment list will take a hit or two between now and February. Most always happens. It is just part of recruiting. Every team goes through it. So it is likely Tennessee will end up with more than just 8 scholarships to give.
Next, I will definitely be watching to see if Tennessee signs a full class in 2012; if Tennessee fit a full class under the 25/85 scholarship limit; and, how will Tennessee distribute the remaining scholarships between positions given its needs at seemingly every position.
One thing is clear to at least me is this staff seems to be very good at filling positional needs. The 2011 class was defensive back heavy which filled a glaring need at defensive back. The 2012 class is off to a great start addressing the linebacker position. They seem to be well on their way of upgrading the defensive line depth as well. They still have a speed deficit that needs to be addressed as part of filling out the 2012 class.
Regardless of how the remaining scholarships are doled out, this class needs a couple of dynamic game changing type of prospects on each side of the ball.
More to follow.
8/19/11:'X' Says:'Tennessee picked up yet another football commitment yesterday afternoon as wide receiver prospect Jason Croom from Norcross, Georgia, publicly committed to Tennessee. Croom ever bit of 6'4" 215 lbs has been a VOL for a few weeks. Croom had over 15 scholarship offers and Tennessee beat a number of big boys like LSU, Florida State, Auburn among others for Croom. You have to like that.
You also have to like the fact that Tennessee, already with a nice arsenal of big receivers all of which are underclassmen, was able to go into Georgia and pull out one of if not the top wide receiver prospect in Georgia. Some will argue this point but Croom, folks, is the real deal. A 6'4" - 6"5" 220 lb kid with 4.5 speed. Another downfield threat that will look go in Orange and White. In my opinion, Tennessee has commitments from two of the top three 2012 wide receiver prospects in Jason Croom and Keithon Redding.
All this talk about Croom growing into a tight end is nonsense. He is a wide receiver and was recruited to Tennessee to be a wide receiver.
Croom is another star gazer delight. He is a 4 star commitment the third 4-star commitment Coach Dooley has reeled in this week. I dont get into recruiting rankings at all except when people call me to grip about one or the other services or to discuss the formulas used by each of the services to arrive at their rankings. However, with this string of 4 star commitments, one would have to think Tennessee is closing ranks on many of the other SEC programs who had gotten off to smokin hot recruiting starts and is pretty close to a top 15 to 20 recruiting ranking across all the services.
Remember just two weeks ago when it appeared Tennessee was all but done raking in commitments until after the football season started. We told you to expect at least a couple if not more Tennessee football commitments before the football season began. What happened? BAM!!! 3 in a week. From what I have been told, there is some optimism there may be another commitment out there that could go public before before kickoff on September 3. We'll see. My guys have been pretty good of late. Hope they keep it rolling.
One other note. The rumor is out there. Yes, the Connor Wood rumor. Much like it was a couple of years ago before he signed with Texas, former Texas High School legend and current Texas back up quarterback Connor Wood may be looking to transfer to a school where he actually has a chance to see playing time. Who could blame him? Coming out of high Wood was rated as the #3 pro-style quarterback in the country in 2010. Since he committed and signed with Texas, the Longhorns have continued to recruit and sign high profile high school quarterbacks.Texas has a starting quarterback their staff is committed to, an impressive quarterback signee in David Ash who may surpass Wood and even challenge the starter, and Texas already has a quarterback commitment lined up for their 2012 class in Connor Brewer a prospect Tennessee offered.
Is there interest from Tennessee? I would be surprised if there isn't but I have yet to confirm it. Here is what I know though. The family has connections with Coach Chaney, Tennessee, the east Tennessee area or all the above .
Remember back a couple of years ago when Tennessee was all over the place in chasing high school quarterbacks. Names like Scroggins, Rettig, Rees, and Bray were all linked with Tennessee. Bray emerged and was offered a scholarship but Connor Wood was on the radar. Both Coach Kiffin and Coach Chaney liked Wood..... a lot. There were discussions between Tennessee and the Wood camp and I understand the recruit and family were very receptive to the Tennessee contact and had more than casual interest in Tennessee. I have to say this was one of few quarterback courtships during the Kifiin era that was kept under wraps and out of the sight of media.
Kiffin and Chaney recruited this kid be he honored his verbal commitment and signed with sign with Texas. So here we are now Wood is buried on the depth chart, Texas is committed to their #1 guy, and now Wood being recruited over. There would be schools with easier pathways to the playing field than Tennessee. All this of course is conjecture for now.
Doing some research on how all the issues at Miami may impact Tennessee's recruiting. More to follow on that topic but quickly I think the impact will seen more in 2013. Tennessee has so few spots left for 2012 but there are three names to watch with Tennessee that Miami is involved with. Miami was thought to be the leader for JUCO tight end prospect Blake Jackson. Tennessee is one of Jackson's top schools but was on the outside looking in until as this mess in South Florida was made public. I would say Jackson's recruitment is officially wide open now.
Next, outside linebacker Raphael Kirby from Stone Mountain , Georgia surprised many by committing to Miami this summer. Tennessee was recruiting Kirby before he committed. Tennessee people were surprised Kirby choose Miami. I would be surprised given the type of prospect Kirby is there hasnt been at least a phone call made to gauge Kirby's interest in Tennessee. There are a couple of high profile defensive ends and tackles from South Florida I'm checking.
One of the positive notes about having the recruiting class looking to be in good shape this early is it will provide the Tennessee staff a chance to develop relationships with 2013 and 2014 prospects. From my limited amount of time looking at 2013 prospects I know South Florida will be producing another group of prospects every school in the country will be recruiting. Al Golden looked to be well on his way to locking down that area and landing the prospects he wanted. However, with Miami seemingly headed for a rough go of it with the NCAA, Tennessee like other schools will be all over the South Florida area.
Again, more to follow.
8/16/11:'X' Says:Who needs conference expansion to dip into Texas and make some recruiting noise? Tennessee apparently doesn't. Much to the shock of the so-called college football recruiting insiders, Tennessee went into Dallas, Texas, and landed its 15th public commitment of the 2012 class. Safety prospect Ladarrell McNeil chose Tennessee over Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Texas A&M, and a host of other schools.
Let's be clear. most of the people that follow this recruiting stuff and get paid well to do so didn't see this one coming. Tennessee loved his film, was able to get McNeil on campus this summer, and he fell in love with the place just like many before him.
No matter how you slice it, this is a commitment sure to catch the attention of many a college football observer. Tennessee just went into the heart of Big 12 country and picked off a kid that may be the best at his position in the big ole state of Texas.
Physically, McNeil stands 6'1' 190 lbs. I dont know anything about his forty time but if you watch his film one of the thing that stands out about McNeil is his closing speed to the ball carrier.
The other thing that stands out from the film is McNeil finds contact. He looks like one of those kids that loves contact.
Looking at offers list which is my barometer of a prospect's "pop", McNeil had over 20 scholarship offers including offers from the likes of Oklahoma State, Oregon, Michigan, Texas A&M, Arkansas, LSU, Miami-Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Syracuse, and, Southern California. Most believe Oklahoma State came in second for McNeil's commitment.
I checked out the recruiting services evaluation of McNeil. Most of the evaluations are pretty consistent. ESPN has McNeil rated as a top 100 player regardless of position, 24/7 has McNeil rated as the third best safety prospect in the country, Rivals has McNeil rated highly as well. Again, McNeil is a star gazers delight as he is a four star prospect.
Special Teams and Tight Ends Coach Erik Russell deserves alot of the credit with the recruitment of McNeil. Doesnt hurt that Coach Russell and Coach Dooley both know McNeil's high school coach fairly well.
Take note of the fact that McNeil is the second highly rated prospect Tennessee has stepped into Texas and pulled away from a Big 12 school. Linebacker Dalton Santos selected Tennessee over Texas A&M a couple of weeks ago.
Now all eyes will be focused on August 18th when highly touted wide receiver Jason Croom from Norcross, Georgia, is scheduled to announce his college decision. Croom will likely choose between Tennessee and Mississippi State.
Keep it up.
8/15/11:'X' Says:If the kid's twitter hasnt been hijacked and is accurateTennessee picked up a nice commitment from DC area defensive back/athlete Kenneth Crawley tonight.
Crawley is the reason Tennessee didn't push very hard for the Redmond kid out of Memphis. This is the #1 athlete/corner back on their board.
Crawley had offers from over 25 schools including the likes of Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Georgia, Ole Miss, Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina among others.
Star gazers will be estatic. Crawley is rated as a solid 4-star prospect. ESPN rates Crawley as the 18th best cornerback in the country.
There are a bunch of really good football players in the Washington DC/Baltimore area. Most analysts believe Eddie Goldman a defensive tackle from that area is the best prospect in that area regardless of position. Many believe that Kenneth Crawley or Ronald Darby, who is headed to Notre Dame, are right being Goldman as the best prospect that area. Peter Sirmon along with Terry Joseph are the lead recruiters for Crawley.
Crawley was one of the two or three commitments I thought would fall to Tennessee before the season started. I still think there are a couple on the way.
And Crawley plays for a coach who had produced 28 NFL players and this guy said over the weekend that this kid is in the top two upside wise. Nice get for DD and staff.
8/10/11:'X' Says:Tennessee's latest football commitment for the 2012 class is Dalton Santos a middle linebacker from Van, Texas. We first told you Santos was one to keep an eye on right here in Basilio's June 14th recruiting update.
Santos stands 6'2"-ish 240 lbs and plays with a mean streak the size of Texas. ESPN has Santos rated as the 92nd best player in the country regardless of position. As a junior, Santos recorded 187 tackles. He has already been invited participate in the 2012 Under Armour All American Game.
When evaluating Santos, throw out all the meausreables. Forget about speed (he is a 4.6 40 guy), size (he is a big Texan though), number of reps on the bench, time in the cone drill, and what he looks like in a football uniform. Plainly stated, Santos is a football player something Tennessee needs more of on its roster.
I watched all the video I could find on Santos. I don't profess to be an evaluator of football prospects but a few things do stand out to me. First, you just gotta love a middle linebacker that wears the number 78 don't ya?
Santos seemed to play a little too high and I didnt see much video of him taking on a lead fullback. However, it is clear Santos has good football instincts, has a nose for the football, is a closer, and is not afraid of contact.
As I mentioned, Santos doesnt look all that fast but he does have closing speed and seems to arrive at the ball carriers in a bad frame of mind. His aggressiveness jumps out at you. He'll need some work in pass coverage and there is technique work to learn with respect to tackling and pursuit angles . However, Peter Sirmon has a lot of good to work with in Dalton Santos. He is a very good pick up for Tennessee.
One comment here. I place little value in rankings put out by these national recruiting services. There may be some entertainment value in the rankings and reading how some of these services play to fan bases and coaches of the "hot" programs. However, their rankings, this star nonsense, and evaluation of football prospects is lacking. I'm a big boy and I can think for myself so can you. I know a good football player when I see one.
Plainly stated, the Rivals folks missed on their evaluation of Dalton Santos. They also think they missed on their evaluations of Tennessee commitments Alden Hill and Nathan Peterman as well.
I dont pay much attention to the Scout evaluators or their evaluations. Enough said there.The new 24/7 service has hired too many of the Rivals cats for me to get interested in them right now. ESPN's recruiting service is not quite there but give them another year and they will likely be the best of the lot.. ESPN does rank Santos as their #1 inside linebacker in the country and one of their top 150 players. I think that is a pretty fair evaluation. I digress though......
The one phrase I found that sticks with me after reading all the evaluations about on Santos is... "Santos is one tough customer". Says it all to me.
Santos had a nice offer list. Look at the schools who Tennessee beat for Santos. Santos in the end choose Tennessee over Texas A&M. He also had offers from Oklahoma State, Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, and Missouri.
Now Tennessee needs to close with defensive lineman.
1) Over the weekend 2013 lineman Austin Sanders from Bradley County (in Tennessee for all you internet fans) committed to Tennessee. Sanders is a big kid (6"5" 290 lbs) and with a couple more years of home cookin heaven only knows how big he'll be when he shows up at Tennessee. He projects as an offensive lineman. I havent spent a tremendous amount time looking at 2013 prospects yet but I do know a few of the names. He, along with Rob Burleigh and Brett Dockery (Knox Farragut), highlight a few of the 2013 offensive lineman prospects in Tennessee that will be nationally recruited prospects. 2013 is shaping up to be a good year in state for big lineman types like Sanders.
Sanders is far from a polished product but he is only a junior in high school and you cant coach size. Two other things to like about this future VOL. First, he came to camp, impressed our coaches, and got himself an offer. Second, kid is a Vol through and through.
2) With respect to 2012 recruiting, is it me or does there seem to be a small number of targets you here Tennessee mentioned with right now? New names will emerge over the next few months I feel certain. Just remember this time last season kids like Byron Moore, Curt Maggitt, Marlin Lane, didn't really have Tennessee's on their radar. There is good news though. Most of the targets you do hear Tennessee mentioned with are defensive tackles and ends. Like I have said, the success of the 2012 class will be measured by how many defensive ends and tackles Tennessee closes with. There is no reason to panic about the perceived lack of targets. It is just a function that in the 2012 recruiting cycle the need on the defensive front is so pronounced that seems to be where most of the action is.
3) Speaking of quarterback commit Nathan Peterman, X offers this. Remember a couple of recruiting seasons ago when that twinkle in every Tennessee recruiting junkie's eye was the thought of quarterback prospect Jessie Scroggins signing with Tennessee? Remember him toying with your emotions and tugging at your heartstrings? Ahhh, now you recall the name don't you.
Well, we told you for months Scroggins wasnt coming to Tennessee but that is not my point. Remember the quarterback prospect that Coach Chaney liked just as much or more than Scroggins , or Tyler Bray, or any other quarterback prospect kid on Tennessee's board at that time? Don't remember the name huh. It was a skinny kid out of Illinois, with a funny name, very few had heard of, and he wasnt a big name the recruiting services paid alot of attention to. The kid's name was Tommy Rees. Tommy Rees followed his heart and signed with Notre Dame. Because of injury to Notre Dame's starter, Rees saw action last season and showed promise. Fast forward to August 2011, Rees has all but sewn up the starting quarterback job at Notre Dame in head to head competition with a 5 star prodigy Notre Dame sign a year or so ahead of Rees.
My point is getting back to Peterman. Coach Chaney liked what he saw in Peterman from his film and in person. Coach Chaney has a track record of knowing what it takes to play quarterback I think we can all agree on that. Regardless of Peterman's ranking or stars, I would expect Peterman, much like Justin Worley did last season, to have an excellent senior season. It isnt out of the question that Peterman will be the top quarterback prospect in Florida by seasons end.
4) Expect maybe one or two more commitments before opening kickoff.
Defensive Line ( End & Tackle)
Forget class rankings, forget stars, and forget everything you thought you knew about recruiting for the next few months, defensive front recruiting ( defensive line and linebacker) is where you will be able to judge the success or failure of Coach Dooley’s 2012 recruiting class. If you wake up on January 30th, 2012, and at least 10 to 12 of Tennessee’s commitments aren't defensive lineman and linebackers, you have my permission to start getting concerned. That is how dire the need is at these positions.
Public commitments don’t reflect the excellent ground work being done toward meeting these needs, Tennessee is not only on the board but is a major factor for many top flight, highly rated prospects at these critical positions. Across the defensive front, prospects like Louisiana defensive tackles Marrick Charles and Gerron Borne as well as Louisiana defensive end Steve Gibson pla non being at camp. As are, defensive tackles Daniel O’Brien (Michigan); Korren Kirven (Virginia); Carlos Watkins (North Carolina) as well as defensive end prospects Ryan Watson (Maryland) and Tyler Knox (South Carolina). O’Brien seems to be favoring Tennessee right now and Korren Kirven an apparent Virginia Tech lock seems to be far from it in my opinion as he has been to Tennessee numerous times this year. Don’t forget about Ryan Watson a highly rated defensive end prospect getting very little recruiting notice who likes Tennessee. Expect JUCO defensive end Denico Autry to take a visit to campus sometime in July to checkout Tennessee. Same goes for Ohio defensive end/athlete LaTroy Lewis who has Tennessee close to the top of his list.
Speaking of Lewis's Tennessee has been trying to get involved with Memphis Ridgeway defensive end prospect Brandon Lewis (6’5” 200 lb with room to grow). He doesn't have a Tennessee offer yet (Arkansas leads right now) but there is some thought he could wind up at camp next week. We’ll wait and see.
Tennessee has done a lot of good work with defensive line prospects .... they need to get a couple on the boat though.
One linebacker prospect (Khalid Henderson) is on board but three maybe four more are needed. The good news is Tennessee linebacker targets Marcus Allen and Kadeem Thomas have been to campus already this summer. Too, Tennessee may hold a slight lead for Louisiana linebacker Otha Peters, New Jersey linebacker Kaiwan Lewis, and are battling Clemson for high profile linebacker recruit Nick Dawson but their work here is far far from over. In addition to Lewis and Dawson, linebacker prospects like Justin King (Georgia); Harding Harper (Alabama); and Dalton Santos (Texas) each with a Tennessee offer all plan to attend camp. Should set the stage for some really good competition.
As with the defensive line, you would feel much better about the linebacker situation if Tennessee walked away from the camp with at least one addition to its 2012 linebacker corps.
Though seemingly not a huge need for 2012, recruiting at the defensive back position will present a most interesting challenge for Tennessee. You would think with the numbers signed in 2011 that would not be so. Consider however Eddrick Loften and apparent grey-shirt to be Gerardo Orta would both count toward the 2012 class … if you want them both back. If Tennessee does want both, how many more defensive backs can you reasonably assume Tennessee would take? Also, in addition to graduation losses after the 2011 season you could see Janzen Jackson, Brent Brewer, Prentiss Waggoner and Byron Moore (last two are long shots I know ) tossing their names into the NFL draft and bang!!!! defensive back again would be a huge position of need. To this end, Tennessee continues to go hard after defensive backs.
There are at least a half dozen defensive back prospects on the board Tennessee really likes. The two kids from Memphis, Will Redmond and Sheldon Dawson are right near the top though there is some talk Dawson may be getting a look at running back by Tennessee . Both those kids are dynamic prospects. Tennessee also likes Orlando, Florida defensive backs/cornerback Andre Scott and safety Jordan Diggs; Carrollton, Georgia corner Jonathan Jones; and, Cairo, Georgia corner TJ Gurley. One to watch is Armwood High, Florida safety prospect Jarvis McCall who is tentatively scheduled to be at camp. Tennessee likes McCall a lot. One of the spots at defensive back will be taken by a big-time safety prospect like McCall, Diggs, or someone of that level. The talk of late with respect to the defensive backs has been McCall and Jones.
One more thing. Someone asked if I thought Tennessee had consciously shifted its territorial recruiting priority away from Georgia to focus on other areas like the Carolina's, the Mid-Atlantic and even the Northeast. If you are thinking that, forget it. Tennessee is trying to again become relevant in territories that were good to them in the past but largely ignored in the last few years. With that said, the state of Georgia is and will always be a prime recruiting territory for Tennessee regardless of the competition for players. Remember Tennessee is still Tennessee. The brand is strong in Georgia and doesn't take a backseat to any school nor should it. Plus, do you really think our staff members got where they are today in their careers by being scared of a little competition? Really folks.
Many more prospects than mentioned above will be on campus competing for a scholarship including a number of in state kids. Pull for the in state kids like Knox Central's Cody Blanc and Fairview's Logan Cavendar, and Trezvant's Cameron Mayfield . Good luck to them all.
6/13/11:'X' Says:The recurring theme of the emails, texts , and voice messages I've combed through after time away from Tennessee is... everyone seems so concerned over recruiting. More to the point, why doesn't Tennessee have more public commitments? Which leads to my question to the guardian of this Internet space , “Why all this angst over recruiting ”? Of course, he says that is what I pay you to know….. Point taken.
Tennessee football recruiting seems to be more talked about in these parts than the weather, the national debt crisis, Nancy Grace, the Athletic Director search, or local sports radio hosts. You know I’m right about this. Everyone wants to talk about it. Folks on the radio, guys at the gym, and the dudes at the barbershop. Can a football coach be put on the hot seat for having 2 football commitments in July?
When I last checked in back in June Tennessee was on the cusp of its first wave of summer football camps. The turnout for those camps was good and the staff saw both 2012 and 2013 prospects they really liked and were glad to get the chance to evaluate in person. All along, they have been pointing toward the month of July and specifically toward the upcoming camp being the stage for where they could make recruiting hay. Camp is now less than a week away.
Here you go folks..... Tennessee’s football recruiting is on as solid a ground as it has been in 5 maybe 10 years for a series of reasons. However, that doesn't mean improvements in their recruiting model still can’t be made. Coach Dooley has a plan though and unlike some other former football coaches around here, it doesn't take listening to him long in order to figure out the basics of his philosophy when it comes to recruiting and relationships.
Think back to February 2011 friends, Tennessee hauled in twenty-seven football prospects (not including Eddrick Loften who we will discuss ad nauseam a bit later). Throw in Alex Bullard who will win a starting offensive line spot (barring injury) before the first frost and don’t tell me the 2011 signing class was not a top ten recruiting class. Compare where Tennessee sits in July 2011 to July 2010. It appears Tennessee will actually have to grey-shirt a kid now when in July 2010 Tennessee was still scouring the junior colleges for bodies to fill out a 2 deep at some positions. Not telling you anything you don’t know just saying I like where things are headed.
I personally think Coach Dooley and staff should be congratulated for signing 27 kids and getting all 27 academically qualified and into classes in spite of the Tennessee Admissions Office. I haven’t paid attention to the other SEC schools but I wonder how many other SEC schools can say all their signees are academically eligible? Maybe Vanderbilt. Maybe not. My guess though if you are reading this, like me, you probably care very little about Vanderbilt and good for you.
Tennessee could have one or two clearinghouse issues that spring up before the Montana game.. seems most schools are not immune to the clearinghouse. Let’s hope not. My point is with the above, Coach Dooley walked into this job inheriting a roster full of issues (limited talent, limited potential and unlimited problems). The one thing Coach Dooley could not afford as he began to restock the roster was a to sign a couple of classes that included kids you just crossed your fingers hoping they would get through admissions and the clearinghouse. So far, he seems to be succeeding at replenishing a roster depleted by years of malpractice.
Mentioned earlier I like the recruiting model in place but the test will be when or if Coach Dooley believes the model needs tweaking. Let me explain. Recruiting is a dynamic process we all know that. The schools that seem to fare the best at recruiting are usually the schools that are in front of changes. The changes of course are typically driven by the kids.
5 maybe 6 years ago I was openly critical of Coach Fulmer for two reasons related to recruiting and in my opinion these issues hurt the program. First, Coach Fulmer and his staff were generally reluctant to play true freshman. When most every school was playing true freshman, Coach Fulmer dabbled at it and always gave excuses why true freshman weren't dependable instead of figuring out the best way to get them on the field if they were worthy. He did this almost to the point of his staff thumbing their nose at the fan base.
Next, the trend of high school seniors graduating early from high school and entering college in January of their senior year of high school completely caught the staff before the former staff asleep at the wheel. Florida was way out in front of all the other SEC schools in evaluating prospects earlier and changing its recruiting model to fit this changing trend in recruiting. Florida used this to their advantage on the field and in recruiting at the time when the SEC East was there for Tennessee’s taking.
My point is Coach Dooley wants recruiting to be a “process” that is time intensive. Seems to me kids and their families are now wanting to get the “process” over sooner (i.e., visiting prospective colleges earlier, deciding where they are playing college football before their senior season starts, and getting the recruiting process over). Maybe this is not a trend but an anomaly for 2012. I do know it seems like more kids than usual are making their college choices earlier and earlier. Coach Dooley will have to figure this out and if the process/model needs to be adjusted do so before we get into a new recruiting cycle.
In addition, to the gloom and despair over commitments, equal angst is being given to the fact Tennessee may not sign be able to a full recruiting class in 2012. Some are predicting as few as 15 to 16 prospects are all Tennessee may be able to sign. True, Tennessee does have a small class of seniors departing after the 2011 season. However, Tennessee has a had a couple of defections over the summer and Tennessee and will likely lose a couple of kids to the NFL draft next spring which will help the numbers. Even with those loses, expect the a scholarship numbers game that will be dicey. Tennessee will likely get to 20 to 25 signees in the 2012 class. Don’t forget who our head football coach studied under for years… the master at roster management down in Tuscaloosa or wherever that school is located.
Regardless of where the numbers end up, Tennessee is already sitting with as many as five spots taken in the 2012 class. That is right folks. Five spots taken. First, you have two, 2012 commitments running back Imani Cross and linebacker Khalid Henderson; current offensive lineman Alex Bullard counts against the 2012 class (you aren’t throwing him back are you?) ; journeyman commitment Eddrick Loften (every indication is he still plans on enrolling at Tennessee when he gets his academics in order); and, you have to hold a spot for the 2011 prospect who winds up being grey shirted (it looks now as if that will be injured Gerardo Orta).
This is part of the reason public commitments are slower. Tennessee doesn't want to get into the numbers crunch they found themselves in last December/January. All the flexibility they can muster is needed in dealing with limited scholarships and the hope that as the recruiting cycle wears on Tennessee gains steam on the recruiting trail.
No matter how you slice it there is a definite numbers crunch in 2012.
The Month of July
So, I have spent half my space allotment telling you not worry and recruiting is not in trouble and here I go telling you how important the month of July is as it relates to 2012 and 2013 recruiting. July is important and don’t discount it. Between now and the end of the month, Tennessee is hosting prospects that sit high at or near the top of their recruiting charts at virtually every position. Some kids are visiting with their families as part of a summer whirlwind taking them to many schools while others will be on campus to compete against their peers. If your deal is commitments, I would think the month of July and August for that matter will be good for you.
What I’m going to do is try and provide by position names of kids expected to be on campus during the month of July and kids I think Tennessee has positioned itself very well with as we head into the home stretch before football is back.
With a above mentioned numbers crunch and so many needs on defense, managing the commitments by position this year especially on offense will be a trick. If you consider five spots already taken , just many wide receivers and running backs can you really take in this class? Further, can Tennessee really afford to take and sign a quarterback in this class?
Speaking of quarterback. Will Tennessee take a quarterback? The answer is.... maybe. If Gunner Kiel, #1 Quarterback prospect in the country, or a quarterback of that ilk decides he wants to come to Tennessee , Tennessee finds a way to take him absolutely. Numbers will not allow you to take a quarterback just to take a quarterback this year.
With that said, quarterback prospect Tyler Cameron, a dual threat quarterback from Jupiter, Florida, is a quarterback Tennessee would likely take a commitment from. He has a Tennessee offer and named Tennessee his leader early on. However, with Cameron, the more time that passes you wonder if his family wants him to stay closer to home and/or consider a school where his path to the field is clearer.
So far, I have not seen any one particular running back prospect emerge as a running back I would consider a top target. In July, Tennessee has a number of very good running back prospects making their way to campus. At the top of that list and the running back most people like to talk about now is Dennis Norfleet an all-purpose back from Michigan. He is a smallish prospect but has drawn raves from the national recruiting services for his pass catching skills which is a great fit in the Tennessee offense. I think Tennessee likes their position with Norfleet but they still would like a bigger, more of an every down back. Yes, Imani Cross is committed but you just get the feeling both Tennessee and Cross are not completely sold on one another. At the very best, Cross is a soft commitment. So, the running back hunt continues. Prospects like Coy Brown, Wakarusa, Indiana; Alden Hill, Alliance, Ohio; and, Jaime Gilmore, Citra, Florida are just a few of the kids that will be on campus in July. Brown and Hill are both big kids and punishing runners. Tennessee likes both these prospects but luring either one out from the jowls of Big Ten country to the Southeast maybe a trick though. Gilmore is a Norfleet type back that you are starting to hear more about with Tennessee. With respect to Tennessee and its recruiting of in state running backs, not much happening. These kids just don't seem to be high on the radar.
Two positions on offense (wide receiver and offensive line) that are not major recruiting priorities are the positions Tennessee seems to be in its best shape. With respect to the offensive line, the two kids at the top of the list are five star tackle DJ Humphries and Andrews Jelks from West Tennessee. With Humphries, all you hear about is how he is Florida's to lose. Maybe so but Humphries has been to Tennessee numerous times, is expected back this month, and will likely take an official visit to Tennessee before he makes his college decision. In my opinion, a Florida team under Will Muschamp, has a few more questions than a Tennessee team under Derek Dooley. My point is Humphries' recruitment seems far from over.
With Jelks, a Tennessee kid, seems to be taking his time with the recruiting process. A few months ago Jelks wasn't even on Tennessee’s radar but with a good showing at camps he has emerged as one of the state’s best. Last I read, he plans to make an announcement before his high school season begins. It is not the end of the world if neither of these prospects ends up at Tennessee but its unlikely gets shut out here.
A couple of offensive line prospects of note huge lineman Brandon Hill (6’6” 350 lbs) from Collierville, Tennessee and Dylan Hopper from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Hill and Tennessee have just struck up a friendship of late. Watch and see if he attends camp at Tennessee later this month which would be huge for Tennessee. Hopper is an intriguing offensive lineman who has gone largely unnoticed in the recruiting game so far. He won’t however be a secret much longer . Hopper has two high profile teammates in 5-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard and 4-star athlete Rahim Ledbetter that are being recruited by schools all over the Southeast sure to attract many a college recruiter to their games this fall. While Tennessee likes Hopper, there would have to be a few swing and misses before Hopper became a target.
This is another position, though not a priority, Tennessee seems to be recruiting at a high level. Look for Tennessee to sign 2 maybe 3 wide receiver prospects one of which may be that "athlete" type who could possibly play another position. Hard to see Tennessee signing more than 3 wide receivers in this class with the needs at other positions. Speaking of "athlete" types, one of Tennessee's top wide receiver/athlete targets and the top in state prospect is Drae Bowles (6’3” 200 lbs from Jackson, Tennessee) . Tennessee, from what I understand, believes they are in good shape with Bowles. Bowles though seems to be taking his time with the process. Tennessee also feels similarly about its position with one of the top wide receiver prospects from the state of Georgia in Jason Croom. He is another big, athletic looking receiver who body already looks ready for SEC play.
The positive news continues for wide receiver recruiting as Tennessee is in the thick of the battle to land a commitment from JUCO wide receiver standouts Cordarelle Patterson and/or Javon Bell. We have discussed Patterson here before likely the #1 JUCO prospect at any position for 2012. Look for Patterson to be on campus in July to further evaluate Tennessee. Bell, who signed with South Carolina out of high school, is no slouch and is another kid Tennessee would love to have. Just don’t know if the numbers will work out.
Information is tight on the hill these days about recruiting but I do understand Tennessee would like to sign two tight end prospects in 2012. They continue their sweep of the JUCO ranks and high schools across the country looking for tight ends. During the first session of summer camps, high school seniors to be like Cole Trollinger from Sharpsburg ,Georgia, and Hunter Bowles from Glasgow, Kentucky were on campus trying to earn a scholarship offer. However, both received an invite back for camp this month.
In addition to the above, another solid wave of tight end prospects is headed to campus this month lead by JUCO prospect Blake Jackson from Arizona. Jackson won’t participate in camp. He is trying to whittle down his double digit offer list and figure out where he will take his 5 official visits.
Jackson is an impressive looking athlete and definitely stands against JUCO defenses . Tennessee looks to be in the middle of his recruitment but lets wait and see what he says after he makes his tour of the Southeast this July. Two other impressive looking high school tight end/athlete types visiting are Guito Ervilus from Orlando, Florida and Ron Thompson from Michigan. Both are big raw looking athletes who have yet to grow into their bodies. Ervilus is an intriguing prospect. He has the ability to play defensive end or tight end. Colleges are recruiting him as both. Tennessee may have a solid shot with Ervilius. Thompson from Southfield, Michigan is another similar looking prospect to Ervilus. Still a lot of work to be done recruiting wise at this position for Tennessee.
Tommorow @ Tonybasilio.com, we'll cover defense.
5/30/11:'X' Says:I'm really looking forward to the football camps beginning this week at Tennessee. As you would expect, Tennessee is getting a large number of 2012 and 2013 prospects to camp here. I left these prospects out of my most recent update ... frankly just ran out of time. However, each of these prospects is deserving of a little pop here on the site.
Wide receiver prospect Charlie Hegedus from Lassiter High School in Marietta Georgia. Hegedus is just one more in the ever growing list of top notch football talent in the state of Georgia most of us have not read or heard much about. To say Hegedus is a bit under the radar is an understatement. Most analysts believe that 2012 wide receiver prospects like CJ Curry, JaQuay Williams, and Jason Croom are the best in the state. Hegedus who is not even mentioned in the same breath as those prospects though he is on the verge of receiving scholarship offers from Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida just to name a few. Hegedus was measured out at just under 6-foot-2, 190 pounds at a recent combine. At a March combine he posted a 4.42 in the 40 yard dash and a 37 inch vertical jump. He has clearly raised his stock over the past three months. He plans to camp at Tennessee where I would suspect he receives a formal offer. Hegedus has ties to Tennessee with an uncle that played here in the late 1970s. By the time the summer is over, Hegedus will likely have offers from most every SEC school. Right now, he favors Tennessee slightly over Florida.
Hunter Bowles, 6'6" 240 lbs tight end from Glasgow High School, Glasgow , Kentucky. When you think of Kentucky, Tennessee, and tight ends, you immediate picture Luke Stocker right? Hunter Bowles is probably a little better athlete and a little better football prospect than Luke Stocker was at the same time in their careers. Bowles runs a 4.8 forty and is a do it all three sport athlete at Glasgow High. He is planning to camp at Tennessee this summer. Bowles does not have any offers at this time. Tennessee wants a tight end in this class. In my opinion, Tennessee is not in the greatest of shape with the tight ends offered to date. So the hunt continues. Bowles could be one to watch though his father played baseball at Kentucky.
5/26/11:'X' Says:It won’t be long until you will be able to smell it in the air. Really, it isn’t that far away. Yes, I speak of the 2011 college football season. It's right around the corner don't you know?
In my world, that stretch between National Signing Day (February) until the freshman report for the first session of summer school (June) is in the words of a local legendary sports talk show host…. BRUTAL! To borrow a cliché, every passing week between the two events seems like an eternity.
This season and last have been the toughest because there has been an absence of football information floating around. It is very"Sabanesque" in the way the flow of Tennessee football information is being controlled these days.
When the freshman start arriving on campus, there is sure to be an injection of new energy that, one hopes, envelopes the whole team. Out with the 2010 season and all that went with it and in with the new. There is always a bit of drama.... one or two kids have NCAA clearinghouse or University admissions issues. With Coach Dooley’s “whole prospect "evaluation process, it seems these sort of issues are being minimized and will continue to be so moving forward.
Speaking of Coach Dooley, most of us, if we are honest, would say he has yet to define himself as a head football coach. In fairness, he was thrust into a difficult situation with last season’s roster. He did have a few learning on the job moments and those were not pretty. Regardless of his coaching legacy, I’m beginning to believe he and his staff “get it” when it comes to player evaluations.
Especially so this recruiting cycle. Tennessee seems to be ahead of the curve in offering a number of 2012 prospects some schools have not ranked very high on their recruiting boards. Conversely, there are a number of kids with a bevy of stars by their names, with very attractive offer lists, and who recruiting services have anointed as the next sure-fire 1st round draft picks. Some of whom (even a few in state and in Georgia) Tennessee has just frankly shown no interest in at all. Personally, I like it. This Dooley guy , like him or not, whether he is an abject failure or the next General Neyland, is going to do this thing his way.
So the freshman get here for the first session of summer school, then camps start, we get a commitment here and maybe another one there, and prospects (and their families) visit campus. Before you know it media days is here, a week later fall practice starts. BAMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!! Kickoff to the 2011 college football season is here.
Speaking of the camps, if I have my days right Tennessee’s first camp is only eight or so days away. These camps are big business for Tennessee and all schools for that matter. We all know these schools are trying to get their top targets on campus. Coaches want to spend as much time with the kid, see how he competes, interacts with others, responds to coaching, carries himself, and how he handles himself. Camps are also where each year a prospect of two emerge from seemingly nowhere and earn a scholarship offer. Like Tom Smith last year, every so often one of these kids likes it so much at your school he accepts the scholarship offer on the spot and ends his recruitment there….There are very few Tom Smith's anymore.
With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn’t happen at Tennessee again this summer. While the list of prospects attending Tennessee’s upcoming camps is still a bit of a work in progress, I have listed a few prospects interested in Tennessee I will be watching during the next month to six weeks. These kids will fall into one of the three groups below.
1) Prospects that have been nowhere to be seen on the recruiting landscape maybe because of an injury, transfer situation, or maybe the kid only recently started playing football;
2) Prospects that Tennessee is recruiting but don't have a scholarship offer; or,
3) Prospects that Tennessee is recruiting, have offered a scholarship, and are beginning to become household name to us recruit-niks.
The common thread between all three groups is we are looking for the prospect(s) who in a month will be as common a name to you as Brian Kimbrow, Imani Cross, or Daniel O’Brien.
Caleb Azubike, defensive end/athlete, Nashville McGavock. By now, you know Azubike is an X favorite. Azubike is one of many an in state prospect that has seen interest from college recruiters significantly pick up since the end of their junior season and the conclusion of the spring evaluation period. Azubike physically looks the part. He is a big rangy kid who has added about 20 pounds of good weight to his 6’3-6’4” frame since the end of last season. Tennessee, from someone on the staff, can’t wait to get this kid on campus and work him out. He is a very good athlete but raw. The trick is where does he project in college. Defensive end, defensive tackle, or some other spot. Azubike has only been playing organized sports for a couple of years so in a certain sense you really don’t know what you have with this kid. I really believe Tennessee was hoping to get Azubike to camp while he was a prospect that was still somewhat under the radar. Well, that hasn’t worked out so well. Vanderbilt is recruiting Azubike hard but who worries about Vanderbilt. SEC schools are keeping an eye on Azubike. ACC schools like Boston College and Miami have jumped on the Azubike train with offers. By the time Azubike completes the camp tour this summer I suspect he’ll have well into double digit offers. If Azubike has a good camp, he'll leave Knoxville with a committable offer.
Tysean Holloway, (6'0' lbs) running back/athlete, Asheville, North Carolina. Folks when I think of football prospects in Asheville, North Carolina I consider those kids in state players. If they meet Coach Dooley’s evaluation model, sign em. Holloway is much like Azubike. Holloway has received a fair amount of recruiting attention but had no scholarship offers until very recently when Georgia Tech and North Carolina stepped up. The North Carolina offer is big to me. Butch Davis is an excellent evaluator of talent.
Holloway has excelled at running back in high school. He has rushed for 1,500 and 1,900 yards respectively during his sophomore and junior seasons. He has an aggressive running style but honestly projects as a defensive back in college. Holloway is not a secret to Tennessee. Tennessee’s staff has visited with Holloway and he plans to camp here next week. Don’t be surprised if he walks away from camp with a Tennessee scholarship in hand. In addition to being a Division 1 football prospect, Holloway is an accomplished track athlete. He runs the 100 meter dash and runs a leg of the 4 x100 relay for his high school.
Adam Ah Ching, linebacker , Greer, South Carolina. If you want to know how important defensive lineman and linebackers are to the 2012 roster, check out Tennessee’s current 2012 offer list. Most of the recruiting sites have a running offer list for every school. Some are more current than others. You won’t find Adam Ah Ching’s name there under Tennessee but he may not be far from having a place on the list. Ah Ching, a 6’0” 220 lb middle linebacker, holds a half dozen or so offers and is receiving a lot of attention from SEC schools like Tennessee, LSU, and Alabama. Oregon and Michigan are also in the mix. Tennessee has been recruiting Ah Ching but has not extended an offer. Ah Ching plans on visiting campus over the summer. During his junior season Ah Ching totaled 153 tackles, 87 for loss, 5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Ah Ching was invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Combine, making him eligible for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
My thoughts here. Tennessee has a two or three middle linebacker prospects higher on their board than Ah Ching. I’m not sure Tennessee is in great shape with any of these linebackers so don’t be surprised if Ah Ching gets a close look and/or Tennessee makes another run at middle linebacker prospect Jason Sealand from Tucker, Georgia.
Drew Madhu, Plant High School, Tampa, Florida. Madhu is another one of those prospects that for some reason has not received much recruiting attention even though he had a stellar junior season for one of Florida’s premier high school programs. Madhu is a big defensive back and is likely a safety in college. Madhu has been a standout at skills camps this spring. If he makes the camp circuit this summer, I would expect his recruitment to explode. Again, Tennessee has other safety prospects rated higher on the board who are holding Tennessee offers; however, I don’t see any of those prospects having Tennessee as a favorite right now. Defensive back truly is not a priority in this class but Tennessee would like to have a couple of kids they view as difference makers. Madhu is a name to keep an eye on.
Linebacker prospects Harding Harper ( Montgomery, Alabama ) and Otha Peters (Covington, Louisiana). If you look at the Tennessee offer list referenced above, you will see the names of both Harding Harper and Otha Peters listed as having Volunteer offers. I have placed their names here because both plan to camp at Tennessee and both seem to like Tennessee in early recruiting returns. The other reason I have their names here is because up until Tennessee offered both of these prospects neither prospect was receiving much attention on the recruiting trail. Sure, both had an offer from a directional school or two. As soon as Tennessee offered Harper, Arkansas followed suit with an offer now Alabama is in the picture. Similar situation with Peters. Nebraska, Arkansas, and Mississippi State have all entered Peters’ recruiting sweepstakes. Harding and Peters fit Coach Dooley’s model for bigger, faster, more athletic linebackers. Tennessee is in good shape with both though with Peters you have to wonder what happens with his recruitment if LSU were to offer a scholarship. Also, keep an eye on another linebacker prospect Herbert Harris a 6'1" 225 lb linebacker prospect from Clinton, Mississippi. Harris fits the new linebacker profile and will camp at Tennessee this summer. He likes Tennessee.
Keith Thielemann, defensive/nose tackle. Boyle County, Kentucky (6’1” 290 lbs). In the four part series ‘12 for 2012” posted on this site back in December and January, you were first introduced to Keith Thielemann. At that time, we suggested before all was said and done Thielemann would wind up on Tennessee’s recruiting board. Since then, Thielemann has emerged as one of the top prospects in Kentucky for 2012. Though he doesn’t hold a Tennessee offer, Thielemann is hearing from Tennessee. This kid intrigues me for a couple of reasons. First, does Boyle County ring a bell? Should. Tennessee target Lamar Dawson who said he was and then he didn’t was Theilemann’s teammate last season so Tennessee has seen plenty of tape on this kid. Some believe Thielemann played a major role in Lamar Dawson’s success last year taking on blockers allowing Dawson to roam. Second, any kid who becomes one of the better prospects at his position in such a short time gets my attention. It should be noted here that Thielemann has only had a couple years of organized football experience under his belt. Expect Theilemann to be on campus this summer.
Thoughts here. For once, Tennessee’s defensive tackle board includes a handful of prospects that have genuine interest in attending Tennessee. Also, I think Tennessee is going to swing for the fences with a couple of kids on the defensive tackle board that most every school in the country wants. What I’m saying is, while I expect prospects like Thielemann to pick up a number of offers over the summer and fall, Tennessee may not make a decision on whether to extend this kid an offer until later on in the recruiting cycle.
Tyrone Pearson, defensive tackle, Indianapolis, Indiana. Pearson was the best overall prospect in the state of Kentucky …. Until he up and transferred to a high school in Indiana. Pearson was committed and headed to Louisville until the transfer and that completely changed his recruiting dynamics. Pearson has size (6’3” 285 lbs) and speed 4.8/40 (if you can believe these times) to play early. Pearson looks like one of those kids that could wind up as an end in a 3-4 scheme if Tennessee moves to that alignment. Pearson is a high profile prospect which Tennessee has a legitimate shot at landing.
Will Redmond, Athlete, Memphis, Tennessee. It is no wonder Coach Dooley has assigned Charlie Baggett to devote a significant portion of his recruiting time to Memphis. Memphis is loaded with high school football talent and a number of those 2012 prospects are on Tennessee’s radar. With Will Redmond, you can almost refer to my discussion about Caleb Azubike, insert Will Redmond’s name, and get the idea. Redmond is a 6’0” 180 lb. lightning bolt who has seen his status go from a mid-level Division 1 prospect to a top shelf prospect. Seems like the last two to three weeks the interest in Redmond has ramped up. North Carolina, Clemson, Penn State, and Notre Dame have all recently offered Redmond a scholarship. I don’t think Tennessee is far behind. Plan on seeing Redmond at a Tennessee camp this summer. My first thought on Redmond was defensive back/special teams contributor. With his speed (reported 4.4 forty) and Corey Smith’s academic issues forcing Smith to JUCO, Tennessee could be looking at Redmond for another role. I will be watching to see if Will Redmond leaves Tennessee with an offer after camp.
Carlos Wray defensive end (6’2” 250 lb) from Shelby, North Carolina. No representations are made here that I can evaluate football talent . Also, it is understood the physical stature of a prospect has nothing to do with what kind of college football player he will be. I have been doing recreationally evaluating prospects for awhile but couldn’t make a living if that was my full time occupation. With that said, I saw Carlos Wray earlier this year when he was on campus and if any kid ever looked the part of a defensive end it would be Carlos Wray. Every bit of 250 lbs, not an ounce looked out of place. Wray is receiving interest from Tennessee but only holds an offer from Duke at this point. As a junior, Wray recorded 88 tackles, 14 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. I expect Carlos Wray back this summer either to camp or to visit the staff.
Brandon Lewis, defensive end from Memphis Ridgeway. Lewis is a 6'5" defensive end prospect. Lewis is no secret to anyone on the west side of the state. Seems word of his talent is finally working its way to the Tennessee campus. Most of the SEC western division schools are way ahead in recruiting this prospect. Tennessee needs kids that can get to the quarterback. Last season, Lewis had 11 sacks. Heres to Tennessee getting Brandon Lewis on campus this summer for camps or just to visit.
Notes and Such:
Next commitment will be during the "camp period". My guess is the next couple of commitments are in state kids.
In addition to camps, you will begin to see any number of high profile prospects with their families start visiting campus.
In state talent is much better for 2012 than I anticipated. I have seven in state prospects with offers to date and two to three more could have offers by the end of June.
Don't worry about commitments right now. It is a long time until signing day. Focus on the kids Tennessee gets on campus over the summer for visits and camps.
Chris Burke needs to be a part of the baseball program at Tennessee. We need more VFL in the baseball program to change its culture.
5/10/11:'X' Says:'Though it was only spring practice and understanding Tennessee has not played a down of meaningful football, one has to be encouraged by the performance of the mid term enrollees that participated in spring practice.
First, even though Alex Bullard wound up in Tennessee's lap due to an unfortunate event, you have to count the four star offensive lineman as part of the 2011 recruiting class don't you? Coach Dooley is not one to talk in hyperbole so it appears that Bullard and true freshman Marcus Jackson are likely two of our top six offensive lineman heading into fall camp. I wouldn't be shocked if one or both ended up starting.
Anyone who saw Justin Coleman compete this spring knows this kid believes he belongs. I don't think there is any doubt Justin Coleman will compete for a starting corner position and at a minimum will play in 5 and 6 defensive back sets. I remember all the hoodooing that was done when Coleman committed because he didn't have enough start by his name.
Brendan Downs was one of the most overlooked signees in Tennessee's signing class. Many thought Downs was a long way from playing. He showed this spring he is plenty tough enough and I wouldn't be surprised if Downs is a starter at some point this fall.
Vincent Dallas drew raves from the coaches when he was in for a couple of bowl practices in December. He did nothing but continue to get better during the spring. Many say DeAnthony Arnett is a better talent but Dallas has a head start and the benefit of 15 practices under his belt. One or both of these kids is going to be counted on to play on special teams and as a slot receiver. My money right now is on Dallas. I told you when Dallas committed to Tennessee pay attention to his offer list not to the stars beside the kid's name.
Would anyone be surprised early in the season to see Dallas, Downs, Jackson, and Bullard on the field at the same time? Same with Justin Coleman. That is 5 of your 27 signees (counting Bullard of course) expected to see significant playing time and the cavalry led by Byron Moore, Tiny Richardson, and Mo Couch does not start showing up until June.
Don't forget about Justin Worley (who looked like he belonged) and Mac Crowder (same here). Both are likely to red-shirt unless something unthinkable happens.
5/5/11:'X' Says:'Before we get started here on offensive, please remember that this is what I would do if I was king for a day not necessarily what those in charge decide to do...So these are suggestions, NOT predictions. OK? Now let's hit the pads on offense.
Brian Kimbrow, Memphis, Tennessee. Goes without saying that if a prospect makes my wish list I think he is hot stuff. Kimbrow has been atop Tennessee's wish list since the first day the staff inserted his tape into the DVD player. College football has evolved into a game of outflanking your opponent and getting the ball to the kids who can change the game in space. Kimbrow can do that. Kimbrow will return punts, kickoffs, line up in the backfield and at receiver at least. Tennessee has done a good job recruiting here but there is still a long way to go until February.
Drae Bowles, Jackson, Tennessee. Bowles is a legit talent. He is a bigger kid than Kimbrow and could easily play on either side of the ball in college. Bowles or Kimbrow will likely be the top 2012 football prospect in Tennessee. Both are deserving. Tennessee is recruiting Bowles as a wide receiver though I could see him lining up as a college safety. I think Tennessee leads here but so much will happen before decisions are made. He is a good kid from a good family and one Tennessee wants.
Caleb Azubike, Nashville, Tennessee. X's inner circle love to debate me on Azubike. We are just on the verge of seeing Azubike's recruiting stock soar. Once he hits the summer camp circuit, offers will start pouring in for this kid. He is big, fast, athletic and very raw. He has a limited amount of football experience and will only improve with more experience and coaching. With Azubike's build, he could play outside (defensive end or outside linebacker) or he could bulk up and slide to an interior defensive lineman. Tennessee likes Azubike even though he does not have an offer . They can't wait to get him in for camp this summer though they may not have the luxury to offer Azubike a scholarship because other schools are taking note of Azubike's athleticism during spring evaluations. Really like this prospect.
D.J. Humphries, Charlotte, North Carolina. For readers into recruiting stars here you go, X believes Humphries represents Tennessee's best chance to land a five star prospect in 2012. Humphries has been to Tennessee multiple times and I would expect him back more before he finally makes a decision on where to play his college football. Humphries has moved around some. He was born and raised in Union, S.C. , moved to Atlanta for a period of time, and recently relocated to North Carolina. He will only be going into his second season playing offensive tackle. Recruiting wise Florida probably holds a slight lead publicly right now. Before all is said and done, I think distance from home will play a factor in his decision. That is why I give the edge to the VOLS. Even with Tennessee's offensive line depth, Humprhies is a talented kid who will contribute immediately as a freshman.
Andrew Jelks, Paris, Tennessee. Andrew Jelks' has seen his recruiting stock steadily increase since the end of last season. His frame has started to fill out, he has held his own against high rated prospects in skills competitions, and I only expect him to receive more attention as we move into the summer. Jelks is a Tennessee kid who grew up dreaming of wearing the orange and running through the T.
I think in the end Jelks winds up a VOL.
Geez, I get chills just writing this.
Tennessee needs to sign at least one tight end in the 2012 class. Justin Meredith from Anderson, SC., seems to be the top target but I'm just not feelin it with Meredith and Tennessee right now. I don't have a good feel for tight end prospects right now but here are a few names that could be close to receiving offers. Cole Trellinger from Sharpsburg, Georgia, is raw but a prospect Tennessee is interested in; Jonathan Curry, Phoenix City, AL., is a prospect that has already been on campus, likes Tennessee but doesn't have an offer; and, Canon Smith Briarwood Christian in Birmingham, AL., is a very good player and likes Tennessee.
Personally, X continues to say watch Terrence Knox a tight end prospect from Concord, NC.. Knox is just beginning to show up on the recruiting radar of many SEC and ACC coaches. As I have said repeatedly, there is a ton of good football talent in North Carolina and we need to go grab our share.
Jovon Robinson, Wooddale HS, Memphis, Tennessee.In X's humble opinion, Robinson has the most upside of any running back in the state for 2012. He is a big back something Coach Dooley wants, his frame could allow him to add more weight, he is shiftier than he is fast, and Robinson is just a really good athlete who could play other positions (I don't know why though). For some reason Tennessee has not offered Robinson a scholarship, I cant imagine that offer is very far away. Lets hope this kid camps at Tennessee and blows them away. His body is SEC ready.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Hutchinson Junior College. Patterson is likely to be the top rated Junior College wide receiver prospect for 2012. Patterson attended the same high school as current VOL Justin Worley. Im not certain how much that helps in recruiting Patterson but it cant hurt. What will help is watching Tennessee throw it around the yard 35 to 50 times per game this season. You hear all this hoo-doo about Tennessee being balanced this season. Right, anyone who has looked at the history of our offensive coordinator knows better. Having a position coach and skillful recruiter like Charlie Baggett is not going to hurt either. It is too early for Patterson to start parring down his suitors. He is atop Tennessee wide receiver list and I believe Tennessee will be in it till the end with Patterson.
Jaquay Williams, Sandy Creek, Georgia. Really, all you need to do is look above for the reasons any wide receiver would want to attend Tennessee. I could have inserted any number of prospects here .. Corey Smith, Dwayne Stafford, and so on. I really like Williams. I think the hometown school Georgia has a number of young wide receiver prospects and none of which have done much in their careers. Williams is built more like Justin Hunter than Da'Rick Rogers and may need some time for his frame to fill out. He is a big play type of wide receiver. Williams has Tennessee offer and has already been on campus a couple of times.
And here are my wild-card folks. At a position where Tennessee can and will be very selective, Patton Robinette is my guy. First, if Tennessee doesn't take a quarterback this class, it doesn't set the class back or the program back and the world won’t end. In X's opinion, Robinette fits. Here is what I like. Robinette is a 6'4-5" 200 ish pound kid, athletic enough to get you out of a bad play with his feet and smart enough to get you out of a bad play, good but maybe not great arm, and the best thing about him... he is a winner. This is a quarterback that will be well known by many a recruiter across the country by November. Purdue recently offered. Purdue throws the ball... a lot. Tennessee knows about Robinette and expects him to camp here this summer. Given that Tennessee can be selective, they may continue to evaluate him into next season. I still maintain he makes the most sense of any quarterback on the board. Robinette would red shirt and likely mentor behind Worley for at least of year before he would compete for the No.1 job. This would give him time to fill out physically and maybe his arm will get a bit stronger.
Hey though remember this is what I would do if I was king for a day not necessarily what those in charge decide to do..
Check back soon and I’ll drop some more knowledge right on top of you.
4/19/11:'X' Says:Four of Tennessee top recruiting targets reside in the state of North Carolina. Keith Marshall , a running back prospect, is one of the top recruits in the country. Tennessee would love to have Marshall but it wont be that easy. Looks like at this point Georgia is his leader. Another is defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard who is 6"4" 255 lbs. Bullard has Florida out in front right now but with all these kids there is a ton of things that will happen between now and signing day.
Tennessee stands a little better chance with five start offensive tackle DJ Humphries. Humphries stands 6'5" 270 lbs and hails from Charlotte and he is a legit talent. He has been to Tennessee at least 3 or 4 times for unofficial visits. Most think it is a three team race from Humphries (Tennessee, South Carolina, or Florida). Distance from home may be a factor in this recruiting battle before all is said and done.
X is most intrigued with outside linebacker Nick Dawson from Charlotte, NC. Other than defensive line, the most glaring 2012 need is for play making linebackers. Dawson certainly fits that bill. Most of the recruiting guys thought Dawson was signed, sealed , and delivered to Clemson a few weeks ago. However, so far, he has kept his options open. Clemson is stacked at linebacker for the next few years and Tennessee is one of those schools where immediate playing time will almost be a certainty in 2012. Plus, prospects will be watching to see just what Dabo can do with all the talent he has amassed at Clemson over the last couple of years. Another 6 & 6 or 7 & 5 may spell regime change in Clemson.
These North Carolina prospects , along with a few others, have Tennessee offers including wide receiver Jody Fuller and offensive tackle Brock Stadnik. The four above stand out.
During the spring evaluations which started yesterday by the way, Tennessee will take a look at prospects from North Carolina like Carlos Wray a 6'2" 250 lb defensive end from Shelby, North Carolina; Jamal Marcus a 6'2" 230 lb defensive end/linebacker from Durham; defensive tackle Carlos Watkins 6'4" 275 lbs from Forest City; JJ Patterson and a breakfast platter short of 310 lbs from Roanoke Rapids; tight end/athlete Terrence Knox (6'3" 245 lbs) from Concord; defensive tackle K'hadree Hooker 6'1" 280 lbs from South Lenior; and, athlete Todd Gurley 6'0" 200 lbs from North Tarboro. Watkins who has already been on campus stands out to me. I don't know if Carlos Wray receives an offer but he is certainly one to watch.
Georgia is once again the battleground state for Tennessee in 2012. As I have mentioned before, Georgia is loaded with defensive lineman in 2012 and it is imperative that Tennessee jump into Georgia and get its fair share. Tennessee is off to a good start with the commitment of Imani Cross a solid running back prospect. Cross looks to be fully recovered from an injury that slowed him last year. Cross could explode into of the Southeast's finest by the fall of 2011.
With respect to prospects high a top Tennessee's board, I believe two of the top prospects from Georgia Tennessee covets are teammates. Defensive tackle Johnathan Taylor and defensive end/outside linebacker James Deloach. Taylor may the the best of the best defensive tackle prospects in Georgia. Deloach is not a slouch either. These kids have openly discussed playing together in college. Both kids have interest in Tennessee but plenty of other schools are in the mix.
Tennessee has offered over twenty kids from Georgia and we are just now hitting the spring evaluation period. Expect that number to rise. Some of the top prospects from Georgia holding Tennessee offers are defensive lineman Jordan Jenkins from Hamilton; defensive end./tackle Quayvon Hicks from Blackshear; defensive tackle Johnathan Atkins from Thomson; and defensive Jhaustin Thomas from Decatur. There are others but these are standing out right now.
Tennessee has recently offered Georgia cornerback/athletes Joshua Holsey and Davion Tookes. Though cornerback/athlete is not a huge position of need in 2012, Tennessee would like to have at least a couple. Holsey and Tookes appear to be more legitimate targets than Geno Smith from St. Pius X in Atlanta. During the spring evaluations look for Tennessee to take a closer look at defensive back/athlete types such as DJ White from McDonough and Dionte Richards from Fayetteville.
In terms of wide receiver prospects, right at the top of Tennessee's board is JaQuay Williams a 6'2"ish standout wide receiver from Sandy Creek.
During the spring evaluations period, look for more offers going out to Georgia kids. Being that linebacker is a huge need, Tennessee will look at hard at Darreon Herring,Rapheal Kirby and Ukeme Eligwe all from Stone Mountain; Alex Kirby from Calhoun; linebacker/athlete Josh Harvey-Clemons from Valdosta; and, tight end/athlete Rickey Parks from Hogansville.
3/23/11:'X' Says:March is Maddening …..
I’m not a big fan of March. Now that Tennessee has bumped spring practice back until spring break is over has made March even worse for those having a major football recruiting addiction like me and you. College basketball is OK (who can’t take advantage of an opportunity to stay home and watch games for days on end) but “OK” is just about the extent of my fondness of basketball. I don’t even fill out those ridiculous brackets anymore. My family members, who truly know more about basketball than I, have regularly and systematically toasted X for years in friendly bracket wagering. Last season marked the end of my bracket wagering days. Simply, I stink at bracketology.
For guys like us. Guys reading this right now and passing this information along to friends, this is the worst time of the year. Signing Day has come and gone (seems like months ago when it has barely been six weeks). The first junior day brought a smile to our faces and our first commitment. Since then, it has been terrible. It is the waiting for the next big rush. Symptoms are awful… sleepless nights, hand wringing, nausea, and endless periods day after day spent pondering who Tennessee’s next commitment will be or who is the next kid to receive an offer from Tennessee. Can you imagine what it is like being around me in January and early February? Literally, I’m in a trance by National Signing Day. At least guys like us have spring practice to look forward to in a little more than 100 hours by the time you read this. Yep, I’m counting down the hours. When spring practice starts, hopefully Basilio will gives us our football fix instead of talking about Real Madrid, or his fantasy baseball teams, or some other nonsense.
But back to the important stuff .... spring practice. You can smell it in the air. If you ever played high school or college football, you can’t forget the smell of spring ball…. The great thing about spring practice again for guys like us is there will be a steady stream of information on 2012 and 2013 football prospects attending practices and scrimmages. Tennessee will also have another Junior Day that will attract prospects, plus there will be a more than a handful of prospects on hand for the Orange and White game in April. The best thing about spring practice though is when it’s over Spring Evaluations begin. Spring Evaluations are really when our recruiting addiction gets fed. Coaches can go watch prospects go through their spring drills. Kids seemingly out of nowhere pop up on the recruiting radar and become hot commodities on the football recruiting front.
So in our collective time of need, X has put together a list of prospects who do not have scholarship offers from Tennessee but are prospects worth keeping your eye on. These are prospects the Tennessee staff are recruiting and will evaluate during the spring evaluations, summer camps, and even into the 2011 high school football season. With a few of these kids, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tennessee offered sooner than later.
As 'X' is prone to do, we begin with the in state prospects. Here is something I have found interesting. There have already been a few analysts saying the 2012 in state talent would be “so-so” and Tennessee would only offer a handful of 2012 prospects scholarships. While only a handful more may receive offers, the initial "pool" of in state prospects under consideration is a little broader than most originally thought.
Here is my point. To date, Tennessee has offered 3 in state kids (athletes Drae Bowles, I‘Tavuis Mathers, and Brian Kimbrow). These 3 kids are excellent football prospects. Tennessee would take a commitment from any or all of three tomorrow. However, there are at least nine other in state prospects that have an opportunity to earn a VOL scholarship and maybe even more as the recruiting season wears on. Let’s start with the quarterback position. Seems pretty clear Tennessee will sign one quarterback in the 2012 class. It is also clear prospects Gunner Kiel and Zeke Pike are quarterback targets 1 and 1a on their recruiting board. Problem is Kiel and Pike are targets number 1 and 1a on many recruiting boards across the country. Working against Tennessee is its young and quality depth at quarterback. It is the one position where they may be at a recruiting disadvantage in their efforts to sign an elite (per the recruiting services) quarterback prospect.
That is why I believe in state quarterbacks Chad Voytik (Cleveland, TN) and Patton Robinette (Maryville, TN) will be evaluated closely during the months ahead. Both prospects have promise and potential. With respect to Voytik, his recruiting stock is certainly started to rise of late. Though Voytik is only 6’0” tall, Coach Chaney has coordinated many an offense in the past with quarterbacks being the size of Chad Voytik . Does Drew Brees ring a bell?
Patton Robinette is intriguing. Robinette is a smart kid, athletic, and a better than advertised arm. In terms of stature (Robinette is 6’5” ish), Robinette appears to best fit the current Tennessee quarterback profile. I think some on Tennessee’s staff are intrigued with Robinette’s tools. There are of course quarterback prospects from other states on the recruiting board but these are two in state kids you will want to watch.
It is clear early on Tennessee wants two running backs in the 2012 class. Good news is Tennessee appears to be half way home if the public commitment of Georgia running back Imani Cross holds and there is no reason to think that it won’t. Mathers, from Murfreesboro, can play running back though Mathers is athletic enough to wind up at another position in college. The in state kid to keep an eye on at running back Memphis Wooddale’s Jovon Robinson. Robinson is 6"0 220 lbs and reportedly runs a 4.4 forty. Schools like Georgia, Alabama, Memphis, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Florida State and Mississippi State have liked what they have seen and already stepped forward with scholarship offers to Robinson. Tennessee among other schools is still evaluating Robinson. Believe Tennessee would like Robinson to get to campus a couple of times before they offer.
By the fall of 2011, Robinson is likely to be the best running prospect in the state of Tennessee if he isn’t already.
Because of Tennessee’s apparent success in 2010 and 2011 recruiting offensive line, 2012 is a year where Tennessee will uber-selective with its evaluation and offering of scholarships to offensive line prospects. 2012. In state offensive line prospects like Brandon Hill, Andrew Jelks, Graham Shuler, Jay Guillermo, and Ben Still are being evaluated and none to date have received an offer from Tennessee. You wonder how Tennessee will fare with all these kids. Guillermo, a long time Clemson fan, has publicly committed to Clemson, Shuler has never seemed to be terribly interested in Tennessee and looks to be going in another direction, it is tough getting any information on where things sit with Tennessee and Ben Still (though you don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling).
Andrew Jelks, from Henry County, seems to like Tennessee and I have been told Tennessee wants to evaluate him closer during spring evaluations and hopefully summer camp. Jelks is drawing interest from other SEC schools and ACC schools.Brandon Hill from Memphis Manassas High is a huge kid with loads of upside and will likely get a closer look this spring. Alabama has shown as much interest in Hill as any school to date.
The opportunity is there for two in state defensive prospects. First, Nat Parham, linebacker Decatursville, is a linebacker prospect squarely on Tennessee’s radar. Parham has drawn interest from other SEC schools like Florida, Alabama, and Auburn as well as Tennessee. The issue with Parham relatively speaking is size. Tennessee appears to be looking for bigger linebackers and Parham stands at 6’0” tall 205 pounds.
Caleb Azubike from Nashville McGavock High School is another intriguing prospect. Azubike is 6’4 ish 235-240 lbs and has only been playing organized sports for two years. He is athletic, fast , and raw. SEC and ACC schools have taken note. Azubike likes Tennessee and we should look for him to visit campus in the next few weeks. If this kid gets to summer camps, watch out….. his list of suitors could grow significantly.
Here are a handful of prospects outside the state that I have on the Watch List. The Watch List only looks at emerging defensive line and linebacker prospects. Reason is these two positions are the most critical positions for Tennessee in its 2012 recruiting class.
Defensive End DeForest Buckner (6’7” 235 lbs) Honolulu, Hawaii. Wouldn’t it be great to be 6’7” 235 lbs, run a 4.8 in forty, grow up playing rugby and have opportunity to play either football or basketball in college? You know what it’s like to be DeForest Buckner. Reports on the athleticism of this prospect make your jaw drop. Tennessee is heavily recruiting Buckner though he doesn’t have an offer from Tennessee. Always have to evaluate the level of completion on the Big Island but this is a kid Tennessee likes quite a bit.
Defensive Tackle Ladarius McNair (6’3” 270 lbs), Hawkinsville, Georgia. Again, it is worth mentioning, Georgia is a treasure trove for schools in need of quality defensive line help in 2012. You don’t hear McNair mentioned with the 2012 Georgia defensive tackle prospects Dakota Ball, Jonathan Taylor, Jafar Mann which seem to be the cream of the crop in Georgia but McNair can play. He is being recruited by Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee, and Texas among others. In high school, McNair excels as an offensive and defensive lineman. He projects as a defensive nose tackle in college.
Defensive End Dalvin Tomlinson, (6’3” 270 lbs) Henry County High School, McDonough, Georgia. Tomlinson is one of the top defensive end prospects in Georgia and already holds more than a dozen scholarship offers including the likes of Florida State, Clemson, and Alabama. Tomlinson is probably a notch below the top defensive tackle prospects in Georgia. He is raw and will likely continue to grow as he adds strength.
Linebacker TJ Holliman (6’2” 215 lbs) St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, Georgia. Holliman is a prospect firmly on Tennessee’s radar that will be evaluated further during the spring and summer. Holliman is an incredible athlete. A two way player at St. Pius X, Holliman doubles as St. Pius’ quarterback but his future is at the linebacker position. Holliman has already been to Tennessee once and is expected back again during spring practice. Other SEC schools have taken note of Holliman and he is beginning to rack up offers from other schools. Holliman likes Tennessee though he doesn’t have an offer yet.
Defensive Tackle Nikeem Ladson Wade Hampton High School, Greenville, SC. Ladson was not on the radar of any college or even the radar of recruiting services until late in the 2010 football season. A new found commitment to weightlifting and nutrition has help transform Ladson into a 6'3" 280 pound bonafide college prospect as a defensive tackle. Ladson is of course a secret no longer. Tennessee hasn’t offered but is in regular contact with Ladson and is trying to get him over for Junior Day or the spring game. Ladson is a big-time talent.
Defensive End Darius Hamilton, (6'4" 250 lbs) Don Bosco Prep New Jersey. It was a natural progression for Tennessee focus more energy toward recruiting the Carolina's going into Coach Dooley's third recruiting cycle. But honestly I’m a little surprised with the fervor with which Tennessee has hit the mid-Atlantic area. Tennessee has already offered high profile prospects from the mid-Atlantic area like Eddie Goldman (Defensive Tackle , Washington DC), Michael Moore (Defensive End , Maryland) , Keiwon Lewis (Linebacker, New Jersey) . Common theme is all these kids are high profile defensive prospects.... Darius Hamilton may be the better than the kids above and is likely to be the best prospect in New Jersey for 2012. The Don Bosco junior defensive end/ defensive tackle, the son of former Giants star Keith Hamilton, led the Don Bosco last season with 13 1/2 sacks and 63 tackles. He was named the North Jersey Defensive Player of the Year. This is a kid that looks to be a game changer type along the defensive front and Tennessee is recruiting Hamilton hard. An Offer isn’t far away.
Linebacker Alex Kirby 6’0” 220 lbs Calhoun, Georgia. Kirby is an X favorite. The things you like about Kirby are he comes from a winning program and he simply put is a football player. Check put these stats from his junior year. 91 solo tackles, 26 tackles for loss (includes 2 sacks), assisted with 83 other tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. Kirby was named the GACA North Defensive player of the year and garnered all state recognition as well. By the way, his team finished the season with a 14-1 records. Kirby attended the first junior day Tennessee held in February and has been invited to attend the upcoming junior day. He doesn't have an offer but wouldn't be surprised if that changes soon. If Kirby receives an offer during Junior Day, he could be one to watch.
Vincent Valentine (6"3" 300 lbs) Edwardsville High School, Edwardsville, Illinois. (Position Defensive Tackle) . I first introduced you to Vincent Valentine in my "12 for 2012" series posted on this site back in December. Valentine has is received quite a bit of attention from Tennessee since February. If he doesn't have an offer, it is likely Valentine will be extended an offer soon. Iowa, Mizzou, and Illinois have been tagged as Valentine's early leaders. He was picked up offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Auburn, and as mentioned Tennessee is right there.Valentine is a name we are sure to hear more about during as spring evaluations turn into summer camps and beyond.
Here is an offensive line prospect to watch. Ty Darlington, (6'3" 275 lbs, Apopoka High School, Apopka, Florida. Darlington is a powerful looking interior offensive line propsect. inside. He is the former teammate of VOL to be Tom Smith and is the son of one of the best coaches at the prep level in Florida. Maybe top interior line prospect in the state of Florida. He hols over a dozen offers. Oklahoma appears to be the leader early on. Tennessee is trying to get Darlington to campus for the Orange & White Game and/or for summer camp.
To all, hope your brackets are treating you kindly. And Basilio good luck with you fantasy baseball team… Cause I know your bracket is already busted...Knucklehead..
2/25/11:'X' Says:Recruiting News and Notes Basilio Style
The days have long passed when you can gear it down for a couple of weeks after National Signing Day. College football recruiting has become a sport all onto itself. A high stakes one at that and it doesn't know an off season. And guess what? People like you and me who love recruiting just perpetuate it. Look it, half the schools in the SEC and half the schools in the Southeast for that matter have already held at least one Junior Day. There are even some that are questioning whether Tennessee is even a little late to the dance with its first Junior Day.
Next, everywhere you look on a weekend these days there are 7 on 7 competitions, skills competitions, and other organized football events for high school prospects . Even more interesting to me is just how much media coverage these events are receiving. Coverage comes in all shapes and sizes from the national and local RIVALS, ESPN, SCOUT recruiting guys to the county news to guys well like me . Amazing.
Look at the trends though. Seems more and more prospects are making their college decisions earlier and getting the process out of the way. It makes sense as most recruiters, if they are worth their salt, are spending a significant percentage of their time the last few weeks of January leading up to National Signing Day sizing up next years crop of prospects. But I digress. Lets get back on topic.
So, how is Tennessee looking at this early juncture in the 2012 recruiting cycle. The external optimist in me says Tennessee is off to a great start.
Building off a season ending 4 game winning streak, a good showing in a bowl game against a game opponent, and keeping its core group of coaches intact for a recruiting season, Tennessee closed with a consensus top twelve recruiting class. Looking forward, these coaches have had a year to evaluate prospects, build relationships, and determine which type of prospect fits their system. By my count, Tennessee has already offered right at 80 prospects scholarships. Its clear defensive lineman are a priority in 2012, consider that 32 of the 80 offers (approx 38%) have been made to defensive lineman.
AND, if you are like X and have openly wondered if North and South Carolina had been moved out into the Atlantic you'll be glad to know it looks like Tennessee has refocused part of its recruiting efforts in those states. Of the 80 offers to date, 13 have been made to kids from the Carolina's ( 5 South Carolina and 8 North Carolina). This may not sound like a huge number but last year for the entire recruiting cycle Tennessee only extended 18 in total to kids from the Carolina's. Another reason I'm optimistic is, 2012 is an excellent year in Georgia for defensive lineman and Tennessee has established itself as a formidable recruiting opponent that can recruit against with the best of a group including UGA, GT, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, and others. So, part of me is pumped.
But, that little voice in the back of my mind "That Legion of the Miserable" compartment of my brain says there are reasons and early warning signs that we need to be concerned about even at this early juncture February 23, 2011. So how many commitments does Tennessee have? Zero so far. Not exactly keeping up with the Sabans or Muschamps are you Coach. Alabama already has 9, 2012 commitments (don't blink or they may have another one); Florida State has 6; LSU and Florida have 5 a piece; Miami has 4 each, and even Georgia Tech has 1.
Three of the top targets on Tennessee's recruiting board have already committed to other schools. Dakota Ball (defensive tackle) and Kenyan Drake (running back) have committed to Alabama. Mike Davis has committed to Florida. What is more concerning is all three of these prospects are from the state of Georgia, a state Tennessee expects to do well recruiting. While Tennessee's needs are defensive lineman and linebackers, Tennessee does not have a prospect at either one of these positions that appears ready to commit. In 2011, Tennessee went hard after prospects in Florida. Approximately 60 Florida prospects were offered in 2011 (accounting for roughly 25% of all Tennessee offers). So far in 2012, Tennessee has only offered 12 Florida kids (15% of total offers to date). Lastly, in 2011, a quarter of the recruiting class was made up of in state kids. 2012 doesn't appear to be as good a year for top flight football prospects. That means more battles to pull really good football players out of neighboring states tough for even the very best recruiters.
And what is up with a late February Junior Day? Many of these kids are in high school basketball tournaments, gearing up for baseball or track.
So what to believe. Me, I think it is still way too early to draw any conclusion positive or negative. All indications are Tennessee is going to have a nice turnout for Junior Day. Coach Dooley's MO is to have a number of prospects on campus for spring practices and try to get another large turnout for the Orange and White Game. He looks more and more like he knows exactly how to roll with this recruiting thing.
Now back to Junior Day. Tennessee expects a nice turnout Saturday. As I understand, this Junior Day is by invitation. Here are a few names. Not may secrets here.
If you fancy defensive lineman, consider the following prospects have indicated they will be attending. Jordan Watkins (Atlanta, Ga); Justin Shanks (Prattville, AL); Caleb Azubbike (Nashville, TN); Martin Aiken and David DeLeon (Bamburg, SC); Jonathan Bullard (Shelby,NC); Dan O'Brien (Flint, MI); Tyrone Pearson (Louisville, KY); JaFar Mann, Carlos Hood, and Jarantay Jones (Stone Mountain, Georgia); Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA); Derious Bennett (Columbus, GA); and possibly Paul Boyette from Humble, TX.
If linebackers turn your crank, TJ Holloman (Atlanta, GA (how do you like this Holloman plays QB on offense and OLB on D); Nat Parham (Parsons, TN); Raphael Kirby and Derreon Herring (Stone Mountain, GA); Beniquez Brown (Florence, AL); Alex Kirby (Calhoun, GA) , and, Kwon Alexander (Oxford, AL).
Tennessee has an excellent group of running back prospects that should be on campus. Tennessee kids (Jaylen Walton and Brian Kimbrow) from Memphis; Marteze Waller (Putnam County, GA); Imani Cross (Flowery Branch, GA); Kenno Loyal (Decatur, GA) ; Germone Hopper (Charlotte, NC) (hopefully Hopper's teammate linebacker Nick Dawson comes along. Dawson is high on Tennessee's list).
Also, high profile targets like in state athlete Drae Bowles; cornerback prospect Geno Smith (Atlanta, GA); offensive lineman DJ Humphries (Charlotte, NC) and, Corey Smith wide receiver (OH) are among some of the prospects planning to be on campus.
There will be more kids than the ones mention here on campus. This is just a sample. May have more names tomorrow.
If you are just beginning to tune in for 2012 recruiting, let X tell you the kids mentioned above are names you will be reading about over and over again for the next 11 months. The talent level of the kids Tennessee is in on even at this early juncture is much better compared to this time one year ago.
While trying to draw conclusions from sketchy data is a crap shoot, this has never stopped me though. Obviously we know defensive lineman are a priority as early mentioned 4 out of every 10 (roughly) offers to date have been made to defensive ends and defensive tackles. Here are a couple of other numbers I found interesting. To date, Tennessee has offered 16 prospects from Georgia; 12 prospects from Florida; 8, from North Carolina;
7 offers to kids from an area I will call the Middle Atlantic/NE (states like Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, etc); and, interestingly only 2 offers to Tennessee kids.
Does that tell you anything? Probably not but look for Tennessee to try and reach in and grab one or two kids from the mid-Atlantic area. And, Tennessee kids. If you want an offer most of you are going to have to earn one at summer camp.
In closing, note that X has a disdain for Florida football that rivals the most passionate Volunteer fan. However, all Vols should keep Gator defensive end Neiron Ball in your prayers. Ball is just a kid who woke up with a headache that wouldn't get better. Missed a couple of workouts and went in for testing. Doctors initially determined he was suffered from bleeding in his brain. After more testing, he was eventually diagnosed with a congenital vascular condition. His football career in jeopardy though it looks as he may eventually recover. Thoughts and prayers be with him.
I will try and check back in later today with more junior day visitors.