Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin and his staff have their own system for evaluating recruits. And the results doesn’t necessarily fall in line with what recruiting services say.
Offensive tackle JerQuari Schofield and linebacker Robert Nelson are two glaring examples in Kiffin’s first UT recruiting class, which the coaches evaluated for fans Thursday morning at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Schofield (6-foot-6, 298 pounds) of Aiken, S.C., wasn’t ranked higher than 20th among offensive linemen by recruiting services. Robert Nelson of Stone Mountain, Ga., was rated 35th among inside linebackers by rivals.com.
Kiffin and his staff viewed the players much differently.
Offensive line coach James Cregg said he thought Schofield was the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country. He based that on having studied video of 50 tackle prospects.
UT coaches also had a different take on Nelson, whom Kiffin said might have been downgraded because he was only 5-11.
“As we kept watching film and kept digging, this guy kept showing up,” Kiffin said of Nelson. “We put him up there with all the five-star guys on our board, and this guy makes just as many plays.
“I’m proud of our staff for staying with this. We ended up getting a great player because of it.”
Kiffin told the fans that you can’t just watch a highlight tape and evaluate a player. UT linebackers coach Lance Thompson said the staff probably watched more tape on Nelson than any of the prospects.
“He’s a little undersized, but he’s got quickness, speed and power,” Thompson said. “He will hit you.”
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.