A little while ago I published an article about the recruiting efforts—or lack thereof—of former Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley; a fair number of high school coaches in the Tennessee area felt he didn’t show enough interest in their players and, when he did come by, he wasn’t the most hospitable guy.
That said, it was clear that whoever was selected to replace Dooley would have a mountain to climb as far as rebuilding those relationships and making the right moves towards getting the Volunteer’s football program back where it needs to be as far as competing for SEC Championships is concerned.
However, the damage was already done and even with new coach Butch Jones making massive moves towards closing out 2013 strong, there is still work to do.
It’s going to take time for Jones, whose program has piled up nine decommitments, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. So it goes after three different waves of transition in a relatively short period of time.
What bodes well for Jones, those close to the program tell me, is that in just one month he has already shown more interest in connecting to, well, anyone than Dooley did in three years. That includes bolstering recruiting efforts. It’s something of a dot in the larger picture, but Jones encouraging his assistants to be active on Twitter illustrates a new enthusiasm in Knoxville, Tenn. It’s similar to the one permeating Vanderbilt, which anyone in the Volunteer State (not the Commodore State) understands is a jarring but accurate comparison.
Here’s another: Vandy is ranked 21st in the ESPN recruiting rankings, eight spots ahead of Tennessee. That’s an in-state balance of power you couldn’t have ever anticipated shifting, and it’s Jones’ job to get it back to the long-held norm. (Travis Haney, “Programs rising and falling in recruiting”, ESPN)
There are rumors that both Carl Lawson and Vonn Bell could end up signing with the Volunteers come signing day, and if that happens, it’s safe to say that the downward trend of Volunteer recruiting will make a significant shift in the right direction.