You don't know whether Tennessee football signee Bryce Brown will be the next Brian Darden or the next Jamal Lewis. But you know this: The new era of UT football is ahead of schedule.
Whether Brown becomes a star running back (Lewis), a colossal bust (Darden) or something in between, that doesn't alter the significance of his signing with UT on Monday.
Not only did the Vols sign the No. 1-rated running back in the country. They did it by playing catch-up against all odds.
They just finished 5-7. They had one of the nation's worst offenses. They changed coaches.
Yet one of the premier high school players in the country - from Wichita, Kan., of all places - said "count me in." That makes you think coach Lane Kiffin and his staff can recruit as well as they say they can.
Moreover, they can do it on the fly.
Kansas isn't exactly a hotbed for UT recruiting. And the former UT staff seemingly had no connection with Brown, who had his pick of any program in the country.
Nonetheless, he picked the new guys on the college football block.
He's not the only one. Kiffin and his staff finished enough of what their predecessors started to land a top-10 recruiting class.
Based on the recruiting resumes of this staff and UT's longstanding track record, I wouldn't have been surprised at a top-10 class - in 2010. But this year? After last season?
The Vols' whirlwind recruiting is a testament to the successful blend of old school and new school.
UT is about as traditional as you can get in college football. Its 33-year-old coach and his staff are more about hip than history.
They have that relentless, obsessive approach to recruiting that seems to turns the heads of today's recruits. You want attention. Kiffin and Co. will give it to you.
Committed elsewhere? Doesn't matter.
When you tell these guys "no," they suddenly turn deaf. Or, as Kiffin puts it in the face of recruiting rejection, "We're gonna keep competing."
The approach has worked before at UT - in another sport. No one put in more hours recruiting than former UT basketball coach Kevin O'Neill, whose tireless work laid the foundation for Jerry Green's success.
He probably could have written notes to recruits in his sleep - if he had ever taken time to sleep. Like UT football recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, O'Neill was featured prominently in a book on zealous recruiting.
Even after a 5-7 season, Orgeron and Kiffin have a better product to sell than O'Neill did. In their fast-break recruiting run, they proved you don't have to know the words to "Rocky Top" to sell it.
That bodes well for the long run. It might have a short-term impact, too.
UT obviously needs playmakers on offense, and it needs them immediately. Maybe Brown is one. Maybe running David Oku is another.
Brown and Oku have something else in common. Both waited until late to sign.
UT's recruiters took advantage of the extra days and weeks. Imagine what they can do with a full year.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.