In final analysis, give UT's signing class an A+

It's over.

Sure, it took a little longer than usual, but what Tennessee fan wouldn't turn in a few extra weeks of wondering to add two of the top tailbacks in the nation?

Facing almost impossible circumstances, UT coach Lane Kiffin and his staff (with some assistance from some previously employed UT coaches) landed a top-10 signing class.

Here is my belated position-by-position grades of UT's 2009 class:

Quarterbacks: Inc.

Kiffin never made an effort to sign a quarterback in 2009. He's thinking long-term and believed he was too far behind to land a great one this year.

Commitments Tajh Boyd and Bryce Petty were told they wouldn't be good fits in UT's new offensive system. In other words, don't come to Knoxville, sit on the bench and scare off an elite quarterback for the 2010 class.

In retrospect, why did former UT offensive coordinator Dave Clawson offer Petty a scholarship? The Texas standout was considered a pedestrian prospect. He had few scholarship offers - most from smaller schools - and eventually signed with Baylor.

Running Backs: A+++

It's the best haul of tailbacks in the nation: two top 100 players and a solid prospect.

Bryce Brown was an incredible pickup. Rivals.com's top prospect in the nation is a great mix of power and speed.

Another top-100 prospect, David Oku, could prove to be the speed back that Kiffin desires in his offense.

Toney Williams is undoubtedly the overlooked prospect among the group. Yet the mid-term enrollee has shown some ability in spring practice.

Receivers: B-

The grade might seem a little low considering the Vols stole Nu'Keese Richardson from Florida and get partial credit for athlete Marsalis Teague, who could play some slot receiver but will likely end up on defense.

Yet UT lost out on three high-level prospects to SEC competition: Kendall Kelly to Alabama, Alshon Jeffrey to South Carolina and Marlon Brown to Georgia. All were big receivers that Kiffin's offense will one day rely on.

Brown is the stinger. Losing Memphis' best prospect won't cut it for Kiffin and his staff.

UT faced an uphill battle when Frank Wilson was named receivers coach. A strong recruiter, Wilson hasn't coached receivers before. His players will need to play well to erase any doubts about his coaching in the recruiting community.

James Green and Zach Rogers are solid prospects.

Offensive Line: D

Shortly after signing day, UT's coaches lauded JerQuari Schofield as one of the top offensive line prospects on their board.

He better be. UT is woefully thin up front after this season, especially at offensive tackle where Schofield is projected to play.

The Vols also signed interior lineman Kevin Revis. A surprise at first, Revis continued to gain respect throughout his senior season.

Quarterback is mission No. 1 for UT in the 2010 class. Offensive line is a close second.

Secondary: A+

Janzen Jackson, Darren Myles and Nyshier Oliver each are headliners. So is Teague, who will likely end up playing defensive back.

The Vols also secured two solid prospects in Mike Edwards and Eric Gordon. Edwards should help the Vols reach into talent-rich Ohio for future prospects. Gordon, just 5-foot-9, had better be quick.

Linebackers: A

Jerod Askew committed to UT so long ago that many might have forgotten that he's considered one of the top 100 prospects in the nation.

Memphis standout Greg King is a strong pickup. Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and Robert Nelson fill out an impressive group.

Defensive Line: C

Kiffin and crew tried a couple of last-ditch efforts to land another defensive lineman. None panned out.

I like the gamble of adding Arthur Jeffrey, who would have been an elite prospect had he not suffered a serious knee injury.

Rae Sykes and Marlon Walls were once fantastic prospects. We'll soon see just how the duo responded to academic stopovers.

Overall: A+

Considering the circumstances, I still scratch my head when I think about how the Vols secured one of the top 10 recruiting classes in the nation.

Kudos to the new staff.

Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He may be reached at hookerd@knoxnews.com.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 108

volengr#233707 writes:

3rd

Voluvr writes:

All in 3 months. Amazing

KILLERxMOOSE writes:

wooop

Volsfan75 writes:

100th

chargervol writes:

i think we did very well with our guys getting into the recruiting game so late.next year we can hope for an even better crop of recruits and i do like our logo being in floridas lockerroom let all their prospects wander why they would have our name at their facilities.now they will know how big of a program we are building again.

Voluvr writes:

Not only did the get a top 10 class, but in 3 months they also recruited and signed the best coaches in the country. Pretty good for the Young Gun! I look forward to the unexpected this fall too!

CoachFulmer writes:

Can't wait for the 2010 class.

GO VOLS!

Voluvr writes:

Dave, you left out one category:

Coaching staff A+++

givehim6 writes:

Over all a good class. I still wonder about Tajh Boyd if we did right on that one. But a QB for 2010 is a must! Getting Brown and Ouk if all plays right is great. Makes me wonder if Williams will transfer. Another must for 2010 are lineman, offensive and defensive.

balloonman writes:

we'll be on probation for the A+'s and beaten down for the C's in the trenches......KOOL-AID will only go so far......one of our emasculated sports writers needs to ask Hamilton about the party the staff got busted at last week with female employees......OLE Miss warned us!

bigorangefan79 writes:

I look forward to seeing these report cards in the fall.

TurnUpTheVOLtage writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Montana obviously has the pedigree, but I would take Blake Bell or Jake Heaps over him. They are the 2 elite QB's in next year's class, and they are who Kiffin is going after. Both have been offered scholarships, we'll see what pans out.

RaineyVol writes:

Wow I didnt know we did that good besides running backs

andy112382#209793 writes:

Top-10 class.....I remember people laughing on here when anyone even mentioned the possibility. By the way, where are all of those loudmouths?

Awesome job, can't wait to see what they do with an entire year. Already have another 5-star prospect to start this recruiting class of next year, it would be awesome to see a 2nd 5-star prospect join that, Jake Heaps at QB. Throw in d-line and o-line prospects and you've got one heckuva class in the making.

andy112382#209793 writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think it is because Kiffin was aiming for someone a bit more geared/likely to hit the ground running and ready to step in.

Montana will most likely be a great quarterback, but this was his first year in a pass-heavy offense, last year it was said that at the school he played at, he passed 8-10 times a game which means he hasn't been developing quite as long as say, Jake Heaps has.... granted having Joe Montana as a dad sure helps! I'd be happy with either, but Heaps is clearly #1 on the coaches board.

andy112382#209793 writes:

Hey, gator fans who hang out on the wrong message board because they are really closeted Tennessee fans:

http://tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&am...

Florida sure is far down that list....my contacts tend to mess up from time-to-time, but I think the only two teams behind them in the SEC are Vandy and Kentucky.....hmm...

(yes, I know you will respond with the rivals.com rankings which was nicer to ya'll, but that still doesn't take away from how funny it is to see ya'll at the bottom on scout.com)

elsinoresam writes:

in response to balloonman:

we'll be on probation for the A+'s and beaten down for the C's in the trenches......KOOL-AID will only go so far......one of our emasculated sports writers needs to ask Hamilton about the party the staff got busted at last week with female employees......OLE Miss warned us!

interloper alert.

balloonman writes:

in response to elsinoresam:

interloper alert.

as john cougar says....'check it out"

samjrr writes:

Scratch, Itch, Scratch, Itch. Go Vols!

VOLKING writes:

Recruiting rankings mean jack if it doesn't translate into W's, wins, victories, etc. It's a promising start, but I will be much happier when we start pounding out some victories over good teams like AL and FLA. The only thing about the article that worries me is the offensive and defensive lines. C and D grades. Games are won in the trenches. Gotta say I am excited to see how this all plays out over the next couple of years.

MrBamSeydu writes:

They put this class together in 3 months, while Lane was still trying to recruit COACHES to come here. The staff wasn't even complete until a few weeks before signing day. Bryce Brown didn't have us in his top 50 with Fulmer here. All of a sudden, we're in his top 5 and then WHAM! He's All-Vol!

volstasis writes:

in response to mempuss:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Buffalo IQ showing its ugly face again.

volstasis writes:

in response to volstasis:

Buffalo IQ showing its ugly face again.

Sorry about that mempuss, that was directed at B*tchisback.

thevoice writes:

(A+++) + (B-) + (D) + (A+) + (A) + (C) = A+? Seems like fuzzy math, but still great class.

tnbigg writes:

(with some assistance from some previously employed UT coaches)

Would that include, but not be limited to "previously employed UT coaches" who urged prospects they recruited to look elsewhere? Or any of the other nega nanny nonsense generated by the same above mentioned group? Hooker...hang up your Fulmer worship. He was fired for very good reason. It is not needed in any way shape or form for you or any other Fulmer worshiper to try to give the guy credit for what Kiffin and comapny are doing. If we beat Florida next year will your column include, "With the team that previously employed UT coaches assembled"? Because if you remember, the "previously employed UT coaches" began last season with what was regarded as one of the premier offensive lines in the Country and many returning stellar players at many positions. What was the result? I seem to have forgotten. Stop kissing the departeds mammoth gluteus maximus's and talk about what is happening now with credit to the sources that credit is due. You know...a new and exciting opportunity that even the players "previously employed UT coaches" coached to a dead end last year are excited about. Get real...

tnbigg writes:

Oh yeah! Now I remember! Tied for THE WORST LOSS RECORD IN TENNESSEE FOOTBALL HISTORY. Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out...

tnbigg writes:

Hey Hooker. By the way...how fast would you move to be sure a post was deleted if someone...let's say for the sake of illustration...butchiswhatever said something about somebody banging your idol's wife? Imagine the outrage if someone said that about poor misunderstood Phil's wife.

teampenny#658108 writes:

Would loved to have a teacher that grades as easy as you. I agree it was a good class but failure in signing lineman and a QB is large. I do not buy he did not have time to go after QB. Signing players already committed to other schools is not a problem. Not buying we have QB's on campus that can do better than 8 wins nor do I believe know matter how good of freshman you sign they will do better than 8 wins their freshman year. This staff can sign players for sure-need to fill holes first. This I believed they failed to do. I am sure many Kool Aid drinkers will bash this but all Orange fans wish we would have signed some more lineman and a QB. Time will tell how bad this will hurt us. Go Vols

ZR writes:

When are we gonna beat Florida?

Triton1 writes:

1st!!! haha gotcha suckers!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Noticed Southern Cal hasn't offered Montana either as of last week. Wonder what's the fly in the ointment?

richvol writes:

KNS- It does little good to ban a comment by a moron if you are going to print it with the reply to it...what a joke. Do you even have an editor?

xvolx writes:

in response to balloonman:

we'll be on probation for the A+'s and beaten down for the C's in the trenches......KOOL-AID will only go so far......one of our emasculated sports writers needs to ask Hamilton about the party the staff got busted at last week with female employees......OLE Miss warned us!

balloonman. That's what I've been thinking. you don't steal a U committ without breaking some rules. Something is going to hit the fan.

dcvolfan98 writes:

Here's some food for thought: Did anyone think that Arkansas was rich in talent when they landed Darren McFadden and Felix Jones? They were able to block enough to allow very talented backs to be great. They certainly had no QB. In the near term with Brown and Oku, maybe the Vols have something remotely similar.

smokyredbone writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

smokyredbone writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Noticed Southern Cal hasn't offered Montana either as of last week. Wonder what's the fly in the ointment?

His Name is not Joe! Rated early as a 1*, would have never heard of him if his last name was different!

smokyredbone writes:

in response to tnbigg:

(with some assistance from some previously employed UT coaches)

Would that include, but not be limited to "previously employed UT coaches" who urged prospects they recruited to look elsewhere? Or any of the other nega nanny nonsense generated by the same above mentioned group? Hooker...hang up your Fulmer worship. He was fired for very good reason. It is not needed in any way shape or form for you or any other Fulmer worshiper to try to give the guy credit for what Kiffin and comapny are doing. If we beat Florida next year will your column include, "With the team that previously employed UT coaches assembled"? Because if you remember, the "previously employed UT coaches" began last season with what was regarded as one of the premier offensive lines in the Country and many returning stellar players at many positions. What was the result? I seem to have forgotten. Stop kissing the departeds mammoth gluteus maximus's and talk about what is happening now with credit to the sources that credit is due. You know...a new and exciting opportunity that even the players "previously employed UT coaches" coached to a dead end last year are excited about. Get real...

Exactly Big!

smokyredbone writes:

in response to tnbigg:

Hey Hooker. By the way...how fast would you move to be sure a post was deleted if someone...let's say for the sake of illustration...butchiswhatever said something about somebody banging your idol's wife? Imagine the outrage if someone said that about poor misunderstood Phil's wife.

Yuck! Did you have to put that picture in my head right before church!! I can't believe they left that on the board! I'm going back to VolQuest! It costs a little but they manage the trolls!!

Vol43 writes:

KNS, if you don't 86 'butchisback', something is really wrong. This guy went way over the top. This should not be allowed or tolerated, period.

smokyredbone writes:

P.S. It sure makes me feel better that "Hooker" approves of CLK & Co.'s recruiting class! What a Dork!

Ironcity writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

Would loved to have a teacher that grades as easy as you. I agree it was a good class but failure in signing lineman and a QB is large. I do not buy he did not have time to go after QB. Signing players already committed to other schools is not a problem. Not buying we have QB's on campus that can do better than 8 wins nor do I believe know matter how good of freshman you sign they will do better than 8 wins their freshman year. This staff can sign players for sure-need to fill holes first. This I believed they failed to do. I am sure many Kool Aid drinkers will bash this but all Orange fans wish we would have signed some more lineman and a QB. Time will tell how bad this will hurt us. Go Vols

Your half right. We all wish that UT would have signed some high end linemen and a QB, however to sign average linemen and an average QB that would sit on the bench or not fit the system is worse then signing none at all. You have to sign players that you believe will help the team, not players that have lots of stars and fill out a recruiting class well.

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to andy112382#209793:

Top-10 class.....I remember people laughing on here when anyone even mentioned the possibility. By the way, where are all of those loudmouths?

Awesome job, can't wait to see what they do with an entire year. Already have another 5-star prospect to start this recruiting class of next year, it would be awesome to see a 2nd 5-star prospect join that, Jake Heaps at QB. Throw in d-line and o-line prospects and you've got one heckuva class in the making.

I would like to say that I projected a top 10 class but never an 8th place class on SCOUTS. But, I am not bragging, just saying.=)

Pullingguard writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It would seem the Vols have a silent committment from a QB they desire more than Montana, therefore; dont muddy the water with the silent commit by chasing Montana. Hopefully they are successful with the QB from Texas.

ctownvol writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal the other day Montana has already took unofficals to Bama and Georgia. In the article, sorry I don't have a link, he was asked about Tennessee and he said he was interested but we haven't offered yet and there has been little communication lately. Stay tuned.

ctownvol writes:

in response to ctownvol:

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal the other day Montana has already took unofficals to Bama and Georgia. In the article, sorry I don't have a link, he was asked about Tennessee and he said he was interested but we haven't offered yet and there has been little communication lately. Stay tuned.

TommyJack writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Noticed Southern Cal hasn't offered Montana either as of last week. Wonder what's the fly in the ointment?

It could be he hasn't displayed the talent, despite the spermatoza.

randzimm#255981 writes:

in response to balloonman:

we'll be on probation for the A+'s and beaten down for the C's in the trenches......KOOL-AID will only go so far......one of our emasculated sports writers needs to ask Hamilton about the party the staff got busted at last week with female employees......OLE Miss warned us!

It would be nice if you would add a link to your comment to the busted party thing.. otherwise some of us may believe you are just making this phooey up.

BTW... it may have been someones B-day party, or a baby shower... LOL Nothing wrong with a little fun in the office!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

It could be he hasn't displayed the talent, despite the spermatoza.

His bio said he could "work like heck".

Sorry, need to resist.

randzimm#255981 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

It could be he hasn't displayed the talent, despite the spermatoza.

Phillip Sims and Jake Heaps may be one reason why Montana hasn't seen the offer. Also, UT has made and offer to Malik Stokes.

http://tennessee.rivals.com/viewprosp...

Also there are 3 dual-threat QB's on the offer sheet...

Christian Green, Jeffrey Godfrey, and Blake Sims...

GR82BAVOL writes:

Agree with you Law.

I posted a day or so ago when everyone was whining about the Lopers that it needs to start with our own so-called fans...

...and here we go again about not hearing about certain recruits. Many of our own had ridiculed Oku because they thought he wasn't coming to Tennessee. Same thing with Brown.

This just in: THEY'RE HERE! To over-speculate and go so far as to post any sort of negativity about something you don't know isn't productive at all.

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