Hooker: 2005 class hasn't lived up to billing

It was supposed to be the class that elevated Tennessee back to elite status.

Twenty-six commitments.

Eight U.S. Army All-Americans.

Four Parade All-Americans.

Two USA Today All-USA honorees.

Too bad most of the honors stopped on signing day.

There’re no college championships and few individual accolades for the vaunted 2005 class that recruiting services had rated among the top five in the country.

You can debate whether the 2005 class was simply a group of busts or lacked proper coaching. I’ll just outline the production.

Here is a player-by-player breakdown of one of the most disappointing signing classes in UT history:

Demonte’ Bolden: Bolden has started 19 games during his UT career, registering 12 tackles for loss, including three sacks.

Slow to contribute initially, Bolden has grown into a starter since being rated the top prospect in Tennessee and one of the top prospects in the nation in 2005.

Ulysses Alexander: Never made it to UT because the Vols over signed, meaning there was no scholarship available. A questionable prospect anyway, Alexander enrolled at Auburn, then transferred to Howard.

Alexander’s playing ability was one reason he was an SEC-level prospect. His uncle, rap star Luther Campbell, was another. Campbell is influential in Miami-area recruiting.

Josh Briscoe: Briscoe was rated the No. 1 receiver in North Carolina but was far from being UT’s top-rated prospect in 2005. Still, he’s become a solid player when UT’s offense is productive.

Briscoe had 56 catches for 557 yards last season, yet has 10 receptions for 150 yards this season.

Wes Brown: A high school All-American by Prep Star, Brown has locked down a starting job and seems to be coming into his own.

Brown has three tackles for a loss, including 1 ½ sacks, and six quarterback hurries this season.

LaMarcus Coker: There was a time when Coker looked like the most explosive player from the 2005 class. Then he was kicked off the team and enrolled at Hampton.

Jeff Cottam : Like his brother Brad Cottam, Jeff’s career has been sidelined far too often by injuries. However, he has good upside and is UT’s best blocking tight end.

Todd Cox : Picked the No. 4 prospect in the state by the News Sentinel, Cox faced academic hurdles then decided against pursuing a career at UT and went to Ole Miss. Cox never showed the promise he did as a high school prospect.

Jonathan Crompton: Following two surgeries to his throwing arm and two years on the bench behind Erik Ainge, Crompton appeared poised to be a two-year starter at UT before this season began.

Alas, Crompton struggled under his third offensive coordinator at UT and was benched in favor of sophomore Nick Stephens. Crompton was widely thought of as one of the elite quarterback prospects in the nation.

Montario Hardesty: Along with Briscoe, Hardesty was a big pickup out of North Carolina. Injuries hurt Hardesty’s development early.

Since then, he has become a solid tailback who should see more playing time.

Raymond Henderson: A U.S. Army All-American, Henderson was dismissed from UT in 2006. He transferred to Minnesota and has played in three games this season, registering one tackle.

Ricardo Kemp: One of UT’s many losses in the secondary in recent memory. This one came due to dismissal.

Andre Mathis: One of the top linebacker prospects in the nation, Mathis has grown into a defensive tackle and is contributing as a reserve this season.

Rico McCoy: Thought to be UT’s next star linebacker, McCoy’s stat line concerning explosive plays has been less than impressive: one sack, one quarterback hurry and two pass breakups.

A captain in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, McCoy has started every game this season. He played well last week, registering 13 tackles.

Josh McNeil: A mainstay in the starting lineup for two seasons, McNeil is to be commended for playing well despite being undersized.

Still, as the top center prospect in the nation in 2005, McNeil hasn’t yet been as dominant as many projected him to be.

Demetrice Morley: Part of the storied South Florida trio of 2005, Morley has shown the ability to turn in fantastic plays but still lacks consistency. He is to be commended for returning to the field following a season away from football due to academics.

Morley was also known as a dynamic returner and part-time receiver in high school. Those talents haven’t shown up at UT.

Darius Myers: Considered a project when he signed, Myers spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy and has since been refining his skills before being suspended for two weeks this season. Myers returned to practice this week.

Adam Myers-White: It took this U.S. Army All-American some time to work his way into the lineup, which isn’t unusual for UT linebackers.

Myers-White has three tackles for a loss, one quarterback hurry and one pass break up this season while rotating with Nevin McKenzie at strongside linebacker.

Malcolm Rawls: A quick transfer, Rawls returned home to Memphis and was moved from defensive tackle to the offensive line.

Vladimir Richard: One of UT’s top six offensive linemen, Richard is another member of the South Florida Trio. Richard started his first game against Mississippi State and then again last Saturday against Alabama.

Austin Rogers: Having emerged with 56 catches last season as a sophomore, Rogers was seen as a proven contributor coming into 2008.

Nevertheless, he’s been largely unused this season, catching just eight passes for 81 yards.

Chris Scott: A Parade All-American, Scott has locked down a starting position. Still, like UT’s entire offensive line, this U.S. Army All-American/USA Today All-USA selection/Parade All-American hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Slick Shelley: A U.S. Army All-American, Shelley transferred to Tulsa before the 2007 season once he determined he had been passed on the depth chart by UT’s younger receivers.

Shelley has 25 catches for 457 yards and six touchdowns for the Golden Wave this season.

Lucas Taylor: A high-school quarterback, Taylor made the transition to receiver with ease and has become one of UT’s most explosive receivers when healthy.

Taylor is UT’s leading receiver with 22 catches for 273 yards.

Antonio Wardlow: Despite being the first Vol on the cover of Sports Illustrated since Peerless Price in 1998, Wardlow was dismissed in February. His career was largely forgettable except for that famous punt block for a touchdown against Georgia in 2006.

Dan Williams: Just the eighth best prospect in Tennessee according to The News Sentinel, Williams has turned into a solid starter at defensive tackle. He has 34 tackles, 6 1⁄2 for a loss.

Gerald Williams: It took the third of the South Florida trio three years to get to UT due to academic issues. Williams was moved from linebacker to defensive end early this season. He has since shown flashes of greatness.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2008 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 62

VolNavy writes:

What a coincidence that most of the guys have been average at best. Couldn't be the coaching....

oldbasshead writes:

Has to be coaching. If the players don't develop, it is the coaches responsibility. That's just the way it is.

Waldorf writes:

That is pathetic development on the coaches part.

JACK8254 writes:

Lots of raw ability , but not much payoff after 4 years for either the kids or the program . What could the problem be? Maybe, just maybe, the lack of good coaching? That would be the most likely reason.

tnbigg writes:

Sickening...enlightening...disgraceful...phixable...right...the great Phil-Osopher can spin it I'm sure...work like heck...look at the film...I'm not going anywhere...in the famous words of Boydson Baird..."Jimminy Crickets!"

noshow5220 writes:

To me the greatest indictment of Coach Fulmer is his stubborness to use talented players to the best of their ability. Its almost like he is playing in the era where freshman are ineligible.

Think about this, it took two injuries for Peyton to see the field as a freshman.

It took another loss to Florida and I think four games for Jamal Lewis to get a shot.

And now you have what everyone thought was a highly talented class leading a 3-5 team.

Slick Shelley is laughing all the way to the League.

Greer_Vol_22 writes:

nobody does less with more than Phil, except maybe Tommy Bowden...

LoftonsNut_s writes:

I've got Lower Level seats on the 12th row on center court for the Memphis vs Tennessee game on Ebay. Check them out!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Tennessee-vs-Memp...

noshow5220 writes:

And by the way, I am sure in typical Tennessee fashion we will see about half of the guys on this list being starters on Sundays

CrankE writes:

Let me get this straight Hook, we have to hire a coach who can recruit the great talent out there or else Tennessee will suck.

Recruitin' like Heck!
__________

I've thought of a new name for the Football Complex. Sort of like the US Military's headquarters. Let's call it "The Hecktagon"

gohawks1 writes:

in response to CrankE:

Let me get this straight Hook, we have to hire a coach who can recruit the great talent out there or else Tennessee will suck.

Recruitin' like Heck!
__________

I've thought of a new name for the Football Complex. Sort of like the US Military's headquarters. Let's call it "The Hecktagon"

Heh-heh. I like it. The Hecktagon.

CrankE writes:

A good coach would take what he's got and make it better. A bad coach would take what's good and make it worse. There might only be a whiskter's difference in the results, but one of them will be pointed in the right direction.

Example;
NIU took players that by and large didn't get offers to play for the Big Universities. And they gave UT all they could handle, falling 13-9.

UT took players that were fairly well heralded and sought after and barely managed to beat NIU 13-9.

REGIME CHANGE AT THE HECKTAGON!!!
REPLACE THE ROCK, CHIEF, AND STAFF!
Firing like Heck!

tennisvol writes:

The class doesn't matter if coaches can't develop the talent. That has been a big weakness of Fulmer.

jimr07 writes:

or, were they over rated to begin with?

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I have always said, how many got better thru this staff's coaching or were as good as they will EVER be by their Sophomore year?

Think about it!

IPO - Hecktagon may be short-lived, but good.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

"It was supposed to be the class that elevated Tennessee back to elite status."

You mean that even back in 2005 people believed/thought/realized that UT had lost its "elite status" and was in a tailspin?

It's unbelievable that some Vol fans only think our decline (and Fulmer's problems)started happening the past season or two. Hardly.

Mike Strange echoed what I (and many others) have been saying for years: that UT's decline goes back to ATLEAST the 2002 season.

As for recruiting classes, those # of stars next to a recruit's name don't tell the whole story. How they perform once in college--and how they're developed by the coaching staff--matter more.

tnbigg writes:

in response to CrankE:

Let me get this straight Hook, we have to hire a coach who can recruit the great talent out there or else Tennessee will suck.

Recruitin' like Heck!
__________

I've thought of a new name for the Football Complex. Sort of like the US Military's headquarters. Let's call it "The Hecktagon"

That will live forever as a GoVolsXTRA classic...good one...

gohawks1 writes:

The Hecktagon has an enormous room in the basement where they store all the charts and philes.

ncvol writes:

Well, I hope we have a good game and beat SC tomorrow.
Go Vols !

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to gohawks1:

The Hecktagon has an enormous room in the basement where they store all the charts and philes.

It must have a strong floor because the charts are made of solid granite.

gohawks1 writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

It must have a strong floor because the charts are made of solid granite.

pd - kinda like the ten commandments? Or as Mel Brooks (as Moses) once said, after dropping a stone tablet, "these 15...... these 10 commandments".

utdihard#527762 writes:

Just curious, how many kids have gone on to play in the pros since Fulmer has been here?.........Or are you guys just saying these kids would have made it to the pros anyway. Or maybe..... Fulmer once knew how to coach and just all of a sudden forgot how to coach these kids.

zqvol writes:

Shows how the recruiting services are nothing but voodoo magic anyway. There is no way to predict what is going to happen to a 17 year old three or four years later. This has nothing to do with coaching this has to do with talent evaluation in the recruiting process.

TommyJack writes:

in response to gohawks1:

The Hecktagon has an enormous room in the basement where they store all the charts and philes.

and philm.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

and philm.

That is so worng

tnbigg writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

That is so worng

Worng indeed! Phorgot the phailures hidden away down there.

TommyJack writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

That is so worng

pfraid so.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to tnbigg:

Worng indeed! Phorgot the phailures hidden away down there.

Do you think we will beat the coc*ks?

tnbigg writes:

in response to gohawks1:

pd - kinda like the ten commandments? Or as Mel Brooks (as Moses) once said, after dropping a stone tablet, "these 15...... these 10 commandments".

The Tennessee Ten Commandments (posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Gainesboro, TN.)

(1) Just one God

(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa

(3) No tellin' tales or gossipin'

(4) Git yourself to Sunday meetin'

(5) Put nothin' before God

(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal

(7) No killin'

(8) Watch yer mouth

(9) Don't take what ain't yers

(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Now that's kinda plain an' simple, don' t ya think? Y'all have a nice day.

tnbigg writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Do you think we will beat the coc*ks?

Sadly...no...I don't even know if it will be close...what's your take...

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to tnbigg:

Sadly...no...I don't even know if it will be close...what's your take...

Well, it could be close unless the ole ball coach has a few tricks up his sleeve. They don't have much offense either, typically. My best guess would be: SC: 17 UT: 10

tnbigg writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Well, it could be close unless the ole ball coach has a few tricks up his sleeve. They don't have much offense either, typically. My best guess would be: SC: 17 UT: 10

What I anticipate is a close game first half...visor boy...JUST LIKE LAST YEAR...makes meganuclearcycolna changes at the half...they catch fire...and the quitters we still harbor quit and the rest of the guys try valiantly but get blown out...you know Spurrier is dreaming about how he can drill this stake so deep it can no longer even be seen...his team feels the same way...our team is discombobulated and without vision or hope...

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to tnbigg:

What I anticipate is a close game first half...visor boy...JUST LIKE LAST YEAR...makes meganuclearcycolna changes at the half...they catch fire...and the quitters we still harbor quit and the rest of the guys try valiantly but get blown out...you know Spurrier is dreaming about how he can drill this stake so deep it can no longer even be seen...his team feels the same way...our team is discombobulated and without vision or hope...

You could be quite right and I am probably worng. He has had 2 weeks to prepare for the slaughter, so who knows? If the game is close or they are ahead at the half, we are toast

bigt4ut writes:

Its not the players, its the coaching, Slick Shelley wasnt even given a chance at UT and look what hes doing at Tulsa. Bottom line we need a new coach who knows how to utilize everyones talent, instead of being confused and not knowing what players to play. How do you not know Vlad is the best OL we got, but he wasnt starting until last week, he dominates everyone plus he is an emotional leader.

tnbigg writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

You could be quite right and I am probably worng. He has had 2 weeks to prepare for the slaughter, so who knows? If the game is close or they are ahead at the half, we are toast

You are rihgt. I'm gonna' hit the hay...keep the fires burning...we may see a recreation of the final scene from Frankenstein yet...fans chasing Fulmer...Hamilton...Thornton...Haslam down the strip, acrrying pitch forks and torches and screaming, "KILL THE MONSTERS!"

See all y'all!

blitzshoot writes:

For one , Brisoe is to busy laughing and Crompton is still trying to figure out how to tie his cleats. Over-rated class.

stormblast writes:

Well...just another history lesson for this less-than-impressive team.

- Crompton...I don't know which is more amazing - the fact that he was the number 2 rated qb coming out of high school or he was so bad that he has his own vocabulary word "incrompitent."

- Hardesty...flashes of stardom...not many though. Injuries have played a role.

- Coker...well the name is pretty much explanatory.

- Morley...sad that the classroom part of the scholarship didn't allow for proper development. I commend him for his dedication and hard work in the classroom in getting himself back on the field.

- Bolden...a personal disappointment for me. Chattanooga Tyner product...Come on man? Tyner produces good players for its size. He was bigtime coming out of high school. Chattanooga really wanted to see him develop into the next Reggie White (Chattanooga Howard). Not saying he would be that good...but would have liked to see him get close.

- Rogers...I just don't get it with him. He can make some serious catches. Take some serious hits after the catch. But if the ball hits his hands on an easy route...then watch it repell like someone trying to make two magnets touch themselves.

- Briscoe...probably still laughing. Sealed his fate and will be remembered for having about as much fun as the Tide fans in the stands.

- Shelley...now this is interesting. Best name coming out of high school (Slick is classic). Playing well at Tulsa now. Could it be...that he might be the best of everyone in this class? An argument can be made that he is the best offensive player.

Just...bring on the basketball season.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

YOu know as i was reading this, i thought does Fulmer have a dissconnect with some players? The fans and writers accuse him of being soft on his players, but he sure has thrown a bunch of them of off the team, and look at the suspensions too. I mean, should he be more understanding of these guys, and to he.....with the sports writers and his reputation as a fair discplinarian??? Or something like that? Does this make sense? A lot of these guys are good and could they be doing better ???

MidTennVol writes:

Sorry, Hook, I don't get your point. The preponderance of that class are solid contributors. Maybe not all-SEC but most of the ones still on the team are solid.

The facts you list belie the headline.

auroravol writes:

Interesting review on 2005 Class, but more interesting might be to look at the entire Army All America roster and see where the balance of the players stand today. I'm guessing that there is mix much like our recruits except that we haven't had any of them blossom into Superstars, and some of the others did. With the exception of Berry, who is at the highest level, ours have mostly turned out to be decent D1 players but not elite. Maybe it is b/c they sit for a couple of years and lose that edge they had being the big dog coming out of High School.

auroravol writes:

One last point. Slick Shelley is an interesting case. Tulsa throws the ball all over the place and I don't think he is even their #1 so he is getting a lot more chances to catch the ball then he ever would have at TN. But going to the NFL -- no way.

BIGEJ writes:

Dang, all these experts a writin’ and a bloggin' whatz up in der noggin' but ain't none of ‘em ever been or goin' be a D-1 coach; yer all jus’ freaking genius of da keyboard stroke, yer cyberspace or newace dat is......the Bear of the Bryant said, "Being that you writers, fans and new crews are so dang brilliant, come on down to the sidelines on Saturday cause you sure as he11 ain't helping me by telling me or the team on Sunday”.....so jus keep a strokin' and clikin’ from da brain ye got from yer sis’s chikin and yous all can stay the “Cyberspace Genius” dat you is……I say Go Vols.

burpee_von_rotweiler_IV writes:

What is amazing to me is about 1/3 of them are not at UT anymore. There is something telling about that statistic.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Not lived up to their billing.

Hmmm, simple just lower the standards.

Oh wait, we already have and are reaping the benefits.

8 may be too much, Mike H. Rethink.

99gator writes:

the 2006 class is worse.

CrankE writes:

Fulmer sings AC/DC:
I'm on the Highway to Heck!
Highway to Heck!

99gator writes:

2006 recruiting class

Ramone Johnson
Stephaun Raines
Victor Thomas
Nick Stephens
Jarred Shaw
Brent Vinson
Cody Pope
Quintin Hancock
Chad Cunningham
Chase Nelson
Justin Garrett
Dorian Davis
LaMarcus Thompson
Blake Garretson
Daniel Lincoln
Walter Fisher
Darrius Myers
Luke Stocker
Dustin Lindsey
Jacques McClendon
Lee Smith

this class can only be described as god awful. these two classes should be your juniors and seniors and there lies the problem.

TommyJack writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

Has to be coaching. If the players don't develop, it is the coaches responsibility. That's just the way it is.

Exactly: I've said this for years, 1998 notwithstanding. CPF should have had 2 rings and 2-3 more SEC's in his career. The man was overrun with talent for years. Now, the past few years, the recruiting has slipped. Guess what that led too? Hmmm? If we can't "out talent" the rivals, then we gotta have more than a "coaching neutral" staff. Plain and simple.

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to noshow5220:

To me the greatest indictment of Coach Fulmer is his stubborness to use talented players to the best of their ability. Its almost like he is playing in the era where freshman are ineligible.

Think about this, it took two injuries for Peyton to see the field as a freshman.

It took another loss to Florida and I think four games for Jamal Lewis to get a shot.

And now you have what everyone thought was a highly talented class leading a 3-5 team.

Slick Shelley is laughing all the way to the League.

Your two injury to quarterbacks statement about Manning is not correct.

He played against UCLA in the opening game and then the 4th quarter against Florida.

Forgotten in this mix was that we had another quarterback at that time Branndon Stewart. After Todd Helton who had played extremely well against UCLA and Georgia that year and was driving us down the field against Mississippi went down with a a knee sprain Manning and Stewart became the full time starters.

At the time Fulmer was widely criticized for playing Manning as much as he did. The fans wanted Stewart.

Later we found out that Stewart could make things happen on his own but wasn't picking up the offense as quickly as Manning.

Eventually that year Manning became the full time quarterback and there were a lot of upset fans over the decision.

As for Lewis. What everyone also forgets is we did not have a back-up quarterback that could play for Manning and due to Manning's lack of mobility he needed time to throw. Tee at that time simply was not ready.

You saw on the goal line against Alabama last week what happens when a protection is missed. To play Lewis before he was ready could have resulted in danger to Manning. And Manning was our bread and butter.

The loss to Florida was more the result of a questionable interference call against Terry Fair and and INT returned for a TD than not having Jamal in the game.

And we scored over 30 against them in Gainesville. Would Lewis have made the difference in that game?

It interesting Hooker's argument the class is a bust contradicts itself to a degree. Williams, Brown, Morley, Hardesty,GWilliams, Richard,White, McNeil and McCoy are all making significant contributions.

And in Hardesty's case he was going to be the starter his freshman year when he went down with an ACL injury.

Coker while he was here was a huge contributor.

While the class as a whole has been disappointing it is not a bust.

GoVols!

TommyJack writes:

in response to 99gator:

the 2006 class is worse.

The 99 has a point.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features