Vols one and done in draft

Ayers remains lone UT player taken; lowest total since 1959

Robert Ayers: It's all business for this Vol senior

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Ayers came to UT "to be the best, play with the best and be coached by the best."  Along the way, he's learning about humility and changing patterns of behavior.  Video by Erin Chapin/knoxnews.com

Ayers came to UT "to be the best, play with the best and be coached by the best." Along the way, he's learning about humility and changing patterns of behavior. Video by Erin Chapin/knoxnews.com Watch »

Tennessee's football talent level has hit a historic low.

At least if using the NFL Draft as a barometer.

There wasn't a single Vol selected among the 182 picks in five rounds on Sunday. For over 9 1/2 hours, UT fans and prospects waited to no avail.

The lone saving grace from the weekend came when former UT defensive end Robert Ayers was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 18th overall pick on Saturday.

According to NFL records, UT hasn't produced that few draftees in the first seven rounds since 1993 when another former Vol defensive end, Todd Kelly, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 27th overall pick.

The draft consisted of eight rounds in 1993. Former UT defensive back Dave Thomas was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the eighth round.

The draft was cut from 17 rounds to 12 in 1977 and cut to eight rounds in 1993 then to seven a year later.

Since the cut to seven rounds in 1994, UT has averaged six players selected annually. UT placed 10 former Vols in the 2002 draft, the most during that span.

The Vols last failed to produce a single pick in the top seven rounds in 1971.

Before 1993, UT produced at least two picks in the first seven rounds for almost two decades. Linebacker Ronnie McCartney was the lone pick in the top seven in 1976 when he went in the second round to the Los Angeles Rams.

UT didn't have a player selected in the first seven rounds in the 1975 draft but had five players selected in later rounds.

The Vols had only one player selected in the first seven rounds in 1973 when linebacker Jamie Rotella went in the third round to the Baltimore Colts. UT then had four prospects selected after the seventh round.

The last time UT had only one player picked in the entire draft was in 1959 when fullback Carl Smith was selected in the ninth round by the Detroit Lions. UT failed to produce a single selection in the draft of 1954.

The dearth of NFL talent is hard to figure considering UT had two highly rated signing classes in 2004 and 2005 that should have contributed to this year's NFL crop.

Several former Vols were considered, including defensive tackle Demonte' Bolden, punter Britton Colquitt, tailback Arian Foster, receiver Lucas Taylor and offensive linemen Anthony Parker and Ramon Foster.

Arian Foster, Ramon Foster, Parker and Colquitt considered leaving UT following their junior seasons in 2007. At least three were told they would likely be drafted last year.

Arian Foster was projected as a second-round pick. Ramon Foster was projected as a late-round pick or free agent. Parker was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

Ball security, a lack of speed and character concerns undermined Arian Foster this year.

Parker lost significant weight before the NFL combine but questions about his conditioning persisted.

Colquitt's alcohol-related arrest and subsequent five-game suspension certainly didn't help his cause.

Only one SEC team, Mississippi State, failed to have a player selected in the draft. UT was one of four to have only one, along with Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Arkansas.

South Carolina led the conference with seven players selected. Georgia and LSU had six. Ole Miss and Alabama had four. Florida and Auburn had three.

UT's 5-7 season in 2008 certainly didn't help those former Vols looking for NFL jobs. The second losing season in four years led to Phillip Fulmer's dismissal and the hiring of Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin and UT recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron served as Southern California's lead recruiters before taking coaching positions with the Oakland Raiders and Ole Miss, respectively.

The classes they assembled before leaving helped USC land 11 prospects in the NFL Draft, including four first rounders.

Orgeron's efforts at Ole Miss helped land four Rebels in the draft and two in the first round.

Players that weren't selected can sign as free agents immediately.

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Comments » 155

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Wow. Speaks volumes, and the silence is deafening.

Hard to argue against a coaching change now, huh?

burntorangeVOLffle writes:

The talent glut at USC is sickening. 11 drafted?!

TommyJack writes:

No shocker here.

leedsvol2007 writes:

Certainly you would think Dustin Colquitt will be signed somewhere and the rest mentioned should find an NFL camp. Lets see what happens after the final cuts.

UTandETSUfan writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He would be, except the Raiders will be picking first and will in no way select someone from tennessee.... THANKFULLY! lol. #2 to anywhere is better than #1 to Oakland

Voluvr writes:

Looks like Fulmer's "connection with the nfl" is waning. This is what the last 4 years of recruiting had produced.

andy112382#209793 writes:

That's it, time to change the coaching staff! No development and complete mismanagement of the players on this rost.....wh....what's that?

Oh, yea..

Guess that has already been addressed....

Seriously though, Bryce Brown, David Oku, Darren Myles Jr, Janzen Jackson, among others.....there are some names I would fully expect the new staff to utilize and have them in the first 4-5 rounds of the draft a few years from now, especially it they coach anywhere near the level they recruit at, and with their energy and focus on fundamentals, heck those two things alone would have given us another 2-3 wins last year, easy.

tenmanjonez#561272 writes:

I would have figured that as relatively few RB's that the draft entertained this year, Foster sure would have gone in the late rounds. I mean, there was a guy taken with 15 TD's in his total 4 year career at his school and only 2000 yards for those years as well. I was also surprised one of the linemen didnt go, as heavily as linemen were drafted this year.

Txvol57 writes:

in response to leedsvol2007:

Certainly you would think Dustin Colquitt will be signed somewhere and the rest mentioned should find an NFL camp. Lets see what happens after the final cuts.

you would think that...except that Dustin is already playing for the Cheifs and has been for a few years...KNS didnt do their homework (once again) and failed to realize that it is Britton that was being considered

VOLorado writes:

"The dearth of NFL talent is hard to figure considering UT had two highly rated signing classes in 2004 and 2005 that should have contributed to this year's NFL crop"

The dearth of NFL talent IS hard to figure considering I don't know what "dearth" is.

FWBVol writes:

Looking ahead to the 2010 draft I think several Vols will be drafted. Dan Williams should go fairly high at DT around the third round. Hardesty, IF he can stay healthy has a chance to be a pick in the fourth or fifth round.

If a QB can get the ball to Hancock and he continues to improve as he did in the spring, look for him to go in the later rounds.

Wes Brown, Rico McCoy should go somewhere too. I think McCoy goes in the second or third round if he has a good year. He might even play himself into a first round pick. Brown will get a look somewhere because he can play several positions. If he gets drafted it will be near the end of the draft.

Of course we are all holding our breath hoping Berry decides to stay through his senior year, but if EB goes, he'll be the first DB picked.

VOLorado writes:

in response to VOLorado:

"The dearth of NFL talent is hard to figure considering UT had two highly rated signing classes in 2004 and 2005 that should have contributed to this year's NFL crop"

The dearth of NFL talent IS hard to figure considering I don't know what "dearth" is.

looks like I'm the idiot....

dearth   [durth]
–noun
1. an inadequate supply; scarcity; lack: There is a dearth of good engineers.

oh well, I learned a new word... and they got the wrong Colquitt.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to et_vol_fan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No question the talent level at UT has suffered. It shows in the record, it shows in the draft... No complaints on Kiffin on those who have left, for its just possible they see themselves riding the pine for lack of talent to meet expectations.

UrbanStopCallingMe writes:

in response to VOLorado:

looks like I'm the idiot....

dearth   [durth]
–noun
1. an inadequate supply; scarcity; lack: There is a dearth of good engineers.

oh well, I learned a new word... and they got the wrong Colquitt.

Your dearth of knowledge of the word dearth astounds me.

VOLorado writes:

in response to UrbanStopCallingMe:

Your dearth of knowledge of the word dearth astounds me.

I blame the altitude... though I'm quite stupid at sea level as well

MrBamSeydu writes:

Geez, thanks alot Phil Fulmer for all the NFL talent you recruited.... it's no wonder you got canned.

You know it's sad when UCONN football has 4-5 players drafted and UT has 1. Next year, though, we should have at least 5 drafted, maybe 6 if Berry leaves early (which he will and should).

Berry, Dan Williams, Rico McCoy, Hardesty, and at least 2 of our O-linemen.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to burntorangeVOLffle:

The talent glut at USC is sickening. 11 drafted?!

to make us look even worse how about 7 picks for an Oregon state ( 2-3-4-4-5-6-7) and 6 for Oregon (2-2-2-5-6-7), 4 for Connecticut ( 1-2-2-2) and 5 for North Carolina( 1-2-3-5-5), Wake had a 1-2-4-4, Cinn had 5 drafted. Hawaii even had a 2-3-6

I'm sure not a hater but even the Fullmer supporters cant disregard our lack of percieved talent in spite of generally good rated drafts----they got no better when then got to Tenn. This weekend confirmed the need for the change.

smokymtman writes:

Just goes to show...athletes best be getting their education while it's being paid for by scholarship rather than placing their future totally in the NFL draft.

BigOrangeCrazy writes:

Ok, so this is the wrost UT draft since Fulmer's first year? Wow!! Funny how everything has come full circle.
One big difference. Fulmer inherited a team that had won 2 SEC championships in 4 years and left the next coach a team that has finished below .500 two of the last 4 years.

Draw your own conclusions but that stat is hard to argue with.

raynochonspeed#212632 writes:

in response to The_Four_Horsemen:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Check out their offensive power.

http://www.acusports.com//fls/8900/08...

ACU didn't score less than 36 in a game and scored 93 in one contest.

During our coaching search, I joked that we should hire their HC, since he obviously knows offense.

Jankypoo writes:

Yuckypoo!

dvhill100 writes:

In the TN/UF game last year, Blackledge remarked how he didint see any UT players except Jones as being good enough to play for UF.

Our recruiting went down when we lost Ridney Gardner. Too bad LK couldn't have hired him. I anticipate major improvement with the quality of athletes with this staff. Last year was just a taste of things to come.

volnknox writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Wow. Speaks volumes, and the silence is deafening.

Hard to argue against a coaching change now, huh?

I agree, goes to show that Fulmer and his staff was tanking our program. He got lazy and glad he's gone so now we can start bringing some talent in. i think Fulmer was under the impresssion he could never be let go!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did the NFL scouts work like heck and study the film before deciding what most Vol fans already knew?

All hat, no cattle.

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to dvhill100:

In the TN/UF game last year, Blackledge remarked how he didint see any UT players except Jones as being good enough to play for UF.

Our recruiting went down when we lost Ridney Gardner. Too bad LK couldn't have hired him. I anticipate major improvement with the quality of athletes with this staff. Last year was just a taste of things to come.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for Rodney Garner. He is a fine recruiter, but I don't think we'll miss him with the group that we have.

feathersax writes:

Wasn't this senior class rated #3 recruiting group four years ago? Sure weren't "coached up", were they! That's changing even now. GO VOLS!

jdcvols#230433 writes:

in response to raynochonspeed#212632:

Check out their offensive power.

http://www.acusports.com//fls/8900/08...

ACU didn't score less than 36 in a game and scored 93 in one contest.

During our coaching search, I joked that we should hire their HC, since he obviously knows offense.

obviously something that the idiot clawson didn't know. It was ol Fulmer's worst decision of his football life..totally stupid

ethanfrome writes:

in response to volnknox:

I agree, goes to show that Fulmer and his staff was tanking our program. He got lazy and glad he's gone so now we can start bringing some talent in. i think Fulmer was under the impresssion he could never be let go!!

I agree as well. This is further proof (if I needed any) of how I have felt for several years. Fulmer grew lazy and complacent; he had his job security "in the bank" if you will. He lived off of his past capital for some time. We are all better off that he is gone.

I am not a "Phil hater" btw. What I am saying is rational.

PaulTheVol writes:

This is an indicator that the program was going in the wrong direction and that the declining W-L record was a trend, not an aberration.

However, the results of the draft are an indication of a program's health, not definitive proof. The Falcons drafted a linebacker from Miami that only started 3 games in his career. Georgia Tech had 4 players drafted while Georgia only had 3 (from a team rated number 1 going into the season).

Coach O had another of his D-line recruits get drafted in the first round - Peria Jerry of Ole Miss to the Falcons. If nothing else, our D-line should eventually dominate.

Docrok writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I believe with the help of Orgeron Dan Williams will be a first rounder as well!

erniethecatladd writes:

UT's drop off in recruiting has a curious correlation to the point in time of Fulmer's whistle blowing dust-up with Alabama. Could it be that once he drew too much attention to his own recruiting practices, he subsequently became less agressive in pursuing top recruits. Surely the Tide had watchdogs all over his every move just eager to pounce on the first improper action no matter how minor.

StroVol writes:

Not a big deal. 10 BCS schools had no one drafted. Pro Scouts looked at our offense for 3minutes and turned it off. Oline, F. Receivers F. Running backs F. Special Teams F-. This was pretty much expected. Hats off to Ayers though.

golfballs03 writes:

Fulmer was a great recruiter, but he could no more develop talent than my grandmother could, except she might actually be able to instill a little discipline. Fulmer sucked as a coach. I'm so glad he's gone.

erniethecatladd writes:

Yabba-Dabba made a good point about the development of talent falling off more than the recruitment of talent. The '05 class (I think) was one of the top in the country. Albeit a big part of that hinged on Coker "the smoker". Bolden, Morley, Parker, Hardesty and McCoy were all among the highest rated at their positions. Only McCoy seems to have developed into a SEC level player.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

Geez, thanks alot Phil Fulmer for all the NFL talent you recruited.... it's no wonder you got canned.

You know it's sad when UCONN football has 4-5 players drafted and UT has 1. Next year, though, we should have at least 5 drafted, maybe 6 if Berry leaves early (which he will and should).

Berry, Dan Williams, Rico McCoy, Hardesty, and at least 2 of our O-linemen.

don't bet on Hardesty yet. Last yr everyone thought Foster would go high. Especially if Oku and Brown beat out Hardesty.

erniethecatladd writes:

I sure would not count on Hardesty as a pro. I do not know the stat, but he seems to have fumblitis as bad as Foster.

erniethecatladd writes:

Oh how I long for the days that we were all PO'd about the frustration of finishing 10-2 and winning the Citrus bowl.

rocky_topper writes:

That's what complacency will do for a program!!!!!!

sampears writes:

Well, this explains why so many are jumping ship, quiting, asked to leave, so on, get rid of the dead wood, Foolmore left him no choice. CLK has to make these tough changes, it is pretty obvious now. Go Vols!

rocky_topper writes:

Lowest since 1959? WOW! Maybe this will give some of you blinded fulmerites some insight!

Colliervol writes:

What? No comment from Butch, Fulmer Fan, etc? I'm waiting for the flimsy excuses as to how this happened. I won't hold my breath.

As I noted yesterday, the lack of Vols in the draft tells you everything you need to know about the state of our talent and the complacency that infested the previous staff. I'll say it again. It will take Kiffin and company several YEARS to get the level back where it needs to be. This will not be a one year turnaround. If it is, the new staff will have performed a miracle somewhere akin to raising Lazarus from the dead.

RockyTop1_old writes:

Better days ahead, BTW there is no direction but UP from the bottom!

STNVol09 writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

Geez, thanks alot Phil Fulmer for all the NFL talent you recruited.... it's no wonder you got canned.

You know it's sad when UCONN football has 4-5 players drafted and UT has 1. Next year, though, we should have at least 5 drafted, maybe 6 if Berry leaves early (which he will and should).

Berry, Dan Williams, Rico McCoy, Hardesty, and at least 2 of our O-linemen.

Your post is contradictory...you slam Fulmer for lack of talent in this year's draft and laid the cause to his recruiting. Yet next year you predict many will be drafted....all recruited by Fulmer. Dumb logic.

StroVol writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Multiply days by 24

Docrok writes:

in response to STNVol09:

Your post is contradictory...you slam Fulmer for lack of talent in this year's draft and laid the cause to his recruiting. Yet next year you predict many will be drafted....all recruited by Fulmer. Dumb logic.

While the poster may have a very one sided opinion that is contradictory in how he stated it, he had a fundamental basis in that Fulmer's staff had a history of not developing the talent that he recruited! I will not disagree that Fulmer recruited well enough, however he and his staff had trouble getting players to reach their full potential and had difficulty motivating players for games! Which is why we had only one player taken in this draft. Anthony Parker was an 2nd team All American his junior year and returns only to not get drafted. Bolden should have been A DT in the mold of Haynesworth but instead he was a 4 yr underachiever that didnt get drafted! While I dont think Foster was ever more than a 3rd round pick, each year his performance declined and his worth ethic with it! This is why these player didnt get drafted not because they were talented enough! I will say this extends our two recievers that were hoping to get drafted.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I heard it called a lot of things but ball security takes the cake.

Very PC.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Take note Fulmerites.

tnbigg writes:

Anti climactic ending to the weekend story about Fulmer watching the draft with great anticipation and pride I guess...In the famous words of Rosanna Rosannadana from Fort Lee, NJ - Never mind!

volaholic45 writes:

A one-two gut punch for Fulmer (make your own joke). The NFL draft either speaks of a significant decline in recruiting or serious underachievement in player development. Either way, it's not a compliment to Phil.

As for better prospects for UT players in the next three years, credit to Fulmer will decline with each year. He'll always be the coach who recruited them, but the new staff will be perceived as the ones responsible for coaching them up.

And Foster sure should have come out last year. I guess he wasn't planning on stinking it up his SR season.

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