Adams: Attrition could be a plus for Vols

The way Tennessee football is losing players, you might be wondering who's next. Or, in a more extreme scenario, what's next.

Will a couple of squares vanish from the checkerboard end zone at Neyland Stadium? Will the Pride of the Southland Band lose so many members, it can form only half a "T?" Will Smokey look elsewhere?

Excuse the hyperbole. I just wanted to acknowledge the alarmists in the crowd.

Mainstream Vol Nation shouldn't be alarmed. In fact, it would have more cause for concern if the Vols hadn't lost players.

UT has lost 11 players since Lane Kiffin replaced Phillip Fulmer as coach. Some were booted, some quit over the raised expectations and demands, and others left because the depth chart they had in mind didn't coincide with the one assembled by the coaches.

Will the attrition hurt UT? In the short-term, maybe. In the long-term, no.

Kiffin didn't take over a budding dynasty. He took over a program that, after two losing seasons in the last four years, needed an overhaul.

UT has suffered a significant drop-off in talent, as evidenced by last month's NFL draft when one player was taken and by last season's 5-7 record when one of the worst teams in UCLA history and a bottom feeder from the Mountain West Conference took a bite out of the Big Orange.

So it's not as though the depth chart was stacked with future All-SEC players waiting for their turn on SportsCenter. Moreover, it's hardly surprising that a program which suffered from a lack of discipline would experience attrition when a new coach raised the demands and expectations.

When you review the losses one-by-one, what did the Vols actually lose?

Running back Lennon Creer had shown potential, but he was at a position of strength. Tauren Poole and Montario Hardesty both looked better this spring, and prize recruit Bryce Brown will join them in the fall.

Safety Demetrice Morley is a great athlete with starting experience. But he was overrated and unreliable as a player. UT is better off without him.

The loss of backup quarterback B.J. Coleman created the most publicity, because of his position and his background as a Chattanooga high school star. NFL scouts can't get it right when it comes to quarterbacks, so who's to say how his post-UT career will go? However, in watching two scrimmages and five other spring practices, I didn't see evidence that he should be the No. 1 quarterback.

And I don't subscribe to the theory that Kiffin would start a senior quarterback (Jonathan Crompton) next season so he wouldn't scare off a hotshot quarterback prospect for the 2010 class. None of UT's quarterbacks would scare off a hotshot prospect.

Kiffin might have manipulated the situation and kept Coleman on board. He also could have strung other players along out of fear of diminished depth.

But Kiffin has raised more than the demands and expectations. He has raised the candor.

My best guess is he has been brutally honest with players in regard to their playing status.

That assessment is based, in part, on Kiffin's recruiting. Tajh Boyd, a highly recruited quarterback from Hampton, Va., committed to UT's former staff. He withdrew his commitment after meeting with Kiffin, who questioned whether Boyd would be happy in UT's pro-style offense.

Kiffin's personnel decisions speak more to his confidence than his candor. He believes his staff will recruit better players than the previous staff did. Judging by how they finished what the last staff started in recruiting, I agree.

Kiffin now has more to sell than UT tradition or his staff's NFL connections. The message couldn't be clearer: "Come and you shall play."

Recruits don't have to take Kiffin's word for it. They only have to check the roster, which seemingly shrinks by the week.

Talented running backs and cornerbacks are the most likely players to have an impact as freshmen. But UT's lack of depth in the offensive and defensive lines will create a rare opportunity for recruits. Defensive tackle Montori Hughes has taken advantage of that.

He enrolled as a UT freshman in January. Two months later in spring practice, he was competing for a starting position.

The lack of depth will become crucial in the offensive line in 2010. But a team weakness will serve as a recruiting strength.

Some of the player losses also could produce short-term gains. If a veteran player isn't fully committed to the new staff and program, he becomes a liability, even if he is talented enough to start.

Based on the attrition, UT won't have that problem this fall.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 68

panties4tebow writes:

GO VOLS!

belayvol writes:

I also heard that Coach K. is not happy with the sports writers we have. He say's that they are not pulling weight and to expect changes soon. Hope we can make it all season with only two sports writers until he can sign some true big uglies to fill the void. And let's pray that there are no vending machine accidents or hangnails while are thin.

murrayvol writes:

I see little to argue with in this article.

Has Kiffin been "brutally honest" with players regarding playing status? Obviously.

hotrodvol writes:

It looks like Coach O is working on up grading the D-line. Now if we can start getting some O-linemen, a couple of big WRs commitments, and the QB of the future to commit to the offensive side of the ball I would fill a lot better. Oh by the way J.A. good piece.

rockytopatl writes:

One thing John doesn't point out is that for every player on scholarship who leaves, it's another scholarship available for a newcomer, hopefully a talented one. Kiffin could have a huge 2010 class, and that could be a precursor to an incredibly bright future.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

One problem that I see though is that Freshmen players make Freshmen mistakes. Maybe they will grow up faster, though. This year concerns me with the lack of depth in both OL and DL. Coach 'em up and scheme 'em up! GO VOLS!!!!!

tennezz writes:

Who had you rather go to the SEC wars with, The STAYERS or the quitters? Weed them out kiffin! We will have a tougher, stronger, and better coached team than in the past!!!

txsvol#372416 writes:

Usually I don't agree with JA, but I've been thinking along the same lines as this article. It sums up our situation well. Every lost scholarship opens up a recruiting slot, and CLK, EO, and staff intend to recruit better players than the ones we lost. Bet they do it, too! With their kind of players, who will contribute immediately, and for three years, and then go pro. Go Vols! SAVol

TommyJack writes:

Well reasoned piece, Adams.

teampenny#658108 writes:

John like most of your articles this one to makes since. Two problems that may arise: 1) you can only sign 25 players & a few gray shirts 2) this may cause APR problems an loss of scholarships. We could be short of using they 85 scholarships allowed for two or more seasons. That will create problems for any team. I also hope in his quest for football players character does count. So far ever thing has been about just win baby. We all hope he does this. Go Vols

stroker writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Same here!

Basketball_Jones writes:

Some times players have an issue with honesty about playing time. Most of these kids if not all, were the studs of their HS team. Now you come into a program where the coach or others don't kiss your rear. The the coach says oh and by the way you're #3 at your position on the depth chart. Thats a hard pill to swallow, soo they quit. Those kids would never make it down the road anyway, quitting was better than working harder than your competition, so their future never looked bright.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

I see little to argue with in this article.

Has Kiffin been "brutally honest" with players regarding playing status? Obviously.

Yep, "brutally honest" works.

One of my 1st experiences with it was sitting in a rough old farmer's living room. He was explaining the downside of not bringing his daughter back that night the same way I was about to leave with her.

His look said it all.

rusty_shackleford writes:

Natural attrition is a good thing for any business. Sometimes, especially when someone (JA) has been at one place for a long time, change is good for everyone.

Hey! I got an idea...why doesn't JA move on as well? It will be good for everyone's soul.

belayvol writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Yep, "brutally honest" works.

One of my 1st experiences with it was sitting in a rough old farmer's living room. He was explaining the downside of not bringing his daughter back that night the same way I was about to leave with her.

His look said it all.

You brought back memories about when my daughter was a teenager. She used to bring new boyfriends over to meet her mom and I. Very respectful young men as we sat in the living room talking about where they were going for the night as i sat on the couch cleaning my shotguns. Nothing grabs a young man's attention like the sound of the the slide on a model 1100 Remington.

yeavols#228407 writes:

This is one article that GOT IT RIGHT...A PERFECT 10. I can't agree more with every statement and assessment of the program and what Kiffin has done and what he is doing. If any other player wants to jump ship, let us know and we'll give you water wings and you can doggie paddle back to where you came.

gatorzwearstebowpanties writes:

in response to BobbeaVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are a blight on this web site. Why don't you please leave!

give_him_6 writes:

A better article Adams. You can are back in our good graces. Until the next article comes out and you have to write another good article to get back in!! LoL!!

Go Vols

rootin4volz writes:

Wow...It's Dr. Adams and Mr. Hyde with you, Johnny boy. One day you write a completely idiotic article (the Catholic High kid "opinion" you wrote...and we all know what opinions are akin to), and then you write one like this one that is completely and utterly sensible. It's almost like you make a decision on which hat to wear from one day to the next..."hmmm, do I put on my Jester hat and write like a clown today? Or do I put on my brown Fedora and write like a sportswriter?" I'd suggest getting rid of the Jester hat...it makes you look like a Bozo.

dvhill100 writes:

Good article.

It will certainly be interesting the next couple of years. I have to trust LK's expertise and knowing what he is doing and the direction the team is taking.

volnbig11land writes:

JA, I am quick to let you know when I don't like your articles (most of them) so let me say nice job.

And no, it's not because of my "orange colored glasses".

p.s. please leave our site gayetor idiots, we don't visit yours.....

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to volnbig11land:

JA, I am quick to let you know when I don't like your articles (most of them) so let me say nice job.

And no, it's not because of my "orange colored glasses".

p.s. please leave our site gayetor idiots, we don't visit yours.....

yes we do

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to CLEMSONVOL716:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

gatorzwearstebowpanties and clemsonvol, I really thought we were going to be able to get through without responding to bobbienotavol and the gator lopers. I know how tough it is, and I almost responded myself. But I'm trying to steel myself against their idiotic posts. I'm refusing to even acknowledge them on this site. I wish everyone, as others have suggested, would just not read their posts when we see their user names. It would make our experiences here much more pleasant.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

volnbig11land writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

yes we do

I don't!

no interest.....

TXTN writes:

Mr. Adams is right on the money with this one. Kiffin is just trimming the fat off this team. We're probably a couple years away from competing at the level we've come to expect as Tennessee fans, but I think we're at least heading in that direction.

belayvol writes:

I am seeing "rumors" of four more to be trimmed. But rumors are like gators. Little bit of truth and a whole lot of hot air.

99gator writes:

a couple of things from this article.....

1. i'm glad someone else acknowledged that dee morley is overrated.

2. fulmer left the cupboard bare. so, some of you thinking 9 wins is a possibility or strong possibility need to remember that.

3. as time goes by, there are hints being dropped here and there that tennessee doesn't have a qb that could even be classified as average. so, quit worrying about who wins the job. there is no good choice.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to CLEMSONVOL716:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nothing personal Clem, but I have to disagree. When a bunch of part-time posters on a board can poke holes in full time sports opinion columnst JA's opinions with ease, those opinions may not be that well thought out.

JA went to two scrimmages and 5 practices? Did he ever relate what he saw? Who he interviewed? Why should we respect his observation of BJ Coleman? Give us a reason to respect his opinion.

sameolvolalum writes:

It appears that CLK is simply executing a no brainer strategy by opening up scholarships for players providing increased depth. FU, bama, LSU, Ole Miss (apparently this year, thanks to Coach O), and UGA will all start 22 talented players. Depth will be good with all but will also be less of an equal nature as you go down the depth chart. Filling in all those #2 and #3 slots, as well as special teams, will lead to ultimate game-winners. CLK's national recruiting blitz should provide this depth within the next couple of years and make those 4th quarters belong to the orange. More freshmen in '09 and '10 will lead to an awesome group of vererans in '11 and beyond, so why not empty out the slots occupied with pine riders? You've gotta' open up those slots and that's just what's happening. 'Pretty good article JA.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

interesting redneck opinion--any college quarterback who is not an SEC QB is a looser

rockytopatl writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

interesting redneck opinion--any college quarterback who is not an SEC QB is a looser

Loser -- adj. 1. One who loses. 2. One who cannot spell loser. 3. Someone who calls someone with whom they disagree a "redneck."

footballtime writes:

in response to belayvol:

I also heard that Coach K. is not happy with the sports writers we have. He say's that they are not pulling weight and to expect changes soon. Hope we can make it all season with only two sports writers until he can sign some true big uglies to fill the void. And let's pray that there are no vending machine accidents or hangnails while are thin.

yeah send Adams back to the pellican state or will they allow him back?

TommyJack writes:

in response to 99gator:

a couple of things from this article.....

1. i'm glad someone else acknowledged that dee morley is overrated.

2. fulmer left the cupboard bare. so, some of you thinking 9 wins is a possibility or strong possibility need to remember that.

3. as time goes by, there are hints being dropped here and there that tennessee doesn't have a qb that could even be classified as average. so, quit worrying about who wins the job. there is no good choice.

I'm sticking with... 7 wins will be a good first season for CLK.

GainesvilleVol1 writes:

Good article Mr. Adams, what are the chances of getting a couple of JUCO transfers to fill the immediate gaps in talent? Or, are we better to go into this season with hopes of going to Nashville for a Bowl Game?

I'm staying positive, 8 wins plus a bowl game.

Go Vols!!!

MrBamSeydu writes:

John Adams is 100% right, yet again.

He was right about Fulmer, and he is right about this.

I don't know why fans love to hate him. He's almost always right. Sorry folks.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to TommyJack:

I'm sticking with... 7 wins will be a good first season for CLK.

I'll agree. And that's mostly on the strength of 8 home games.

Ironcity writes:

in response to BobbeaVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did some of our white athletes beat up your little brother? Man, you sound way to angry for it just to be about the players and your perceived beliefs of their lack of talent. You need to get over it. You can't lead a productive life with so much hate for guys who have no effect on your life or our teams play(at least I presume they have no effect on your life).

gatorzwearstebowpanties writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

gatorzwearstebowpanties and clemsonvol, I really thought we were going to be able to get through without responding to bobbienotavol and the gator lopers. I know how tough it is, and I almost responded myself. But I'm trying to steel myself against their idiotic posts. I'm refusing to even acknowledge them on this site. I wish everyone, as others have suggested, would just not read their posts when we see their user names. It would make our experiences here much more pleasant.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

You are right. I should ignore the ridiculous posts. Especially from the likes of bobnotavol and B!tch is Back. They are worse than the worst gator lopers. I will skip over their idiotic posts without responding from now on

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Butch.Ever post you make is the same.With your attitude,you will ,if not already ,be a failure.Could you just one time leave the past and start liveing for the future?.we can not go back and change the past,but we all can use the past to improve our future.Chances are , you are a pretty good ole boy.You simply need to look at things in a more positive way.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to belayvol:

You brought back memories about when my daughter was a teenager. She used to bring new boyfriends over to meet her mom and I. Very respectful young men as we sat in the living room talking about where they were going for the night as i sat on the couch cleaning my shotguns. Nothing grabs a young man's attention like the sound of the the slide on a model 1100 Remington.

I have a friend on a SWAT team in an neighboring state.

He's fond of saying that the last thing many burgulars ever neard was that racking slide in a dark hallway.

gwbask writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

yep!

gwbask writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

gatorzwearstebowpanties and clemsonvol, I really thought we were going to be able to get through without responding to bobbienotavol and the gator lopers. I know how tough it is, and I almost responded myself. But I'm trying to steel myself against their idiotic posts. I'm refusing to even acknowledge them on this site. I wish everyone, as others have suggested, would just not read their posts when we see their user names. It would make our experiences here much more pleasant.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

I totally agree, lets don't respond to lopers!

PaulTheVol writes:

I agree with previous posters...7 or 8 wins would be an excellent showing for this team. We have talent, just not enough of it. I think by Kiffin's 3rd year we should really start to see some results.

The other thing that really stands out this year vs. previous years is how many top recruits have Tennessee in the mix. In the past couple of years Tennessee had just fallen off the radar for many of the top recruits. Now it feels like the mid-90s again where many top recruits have Tennessee on their lists. This is a very positive sign.

Will_Bleed_Orange_Till_White writes:

Adams is a doosh. Every point made in this article has been made in the past few weeks on these blog boards.

There are some posters on this site that can write a better article with original and insightful thoughts.

BTW this staff quakes the bed rock of the NCAA with talent.

GBFO

sjackson#227599 writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

One thing John doesn't point out is that for every player on scholarship who leaves, it's another scholarship available for a newcomer, hopefully a talented one. Kiffin could have a huge 2010 class, and that could be a precursor to an incredibly bright future.

No matter how many leave you can only sign 25 in one year.

Bigger_Al writes:

If only the attrition would wash Adams out of Knoxville.

MarbleVol48 writes:

Question? Does the loss of players on scholarship mean that their scholarships may be offered to players in 2010. In other words if you had 27 available, do you now have 38 to offer in 2010 ?

dma38256#264746 writes:

Good article....right on.

hueypilot writes:

in response to BigVolFaninSC:

One problem that I see though is that Freshmen players make Freshmen mistakes. Maybe they will grow up faster, though. This year concerns me with the lack of depth in both OL and DL. Coach 'em up and scheme 'em up! GO VOLS!!!!!

You're right bigfan, however if the freshman is better than the upperclassman, then you need to play the better player. I think we all remember Jamal Lewis sitting on the bench against Florida, with Mark Levine starting in his place (Mark Levine starting ahead of Jamal Lewis????) because Lewis didn't know the blitz blocks?

hueypilot writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Nothing personal Clem, but I have to disagree. When a bunch of part-time posters on a board can poke holes in full time sports opinion columnst JA's opinions with ease, those opinions may not be that well thought out.

JA went to two scrimmages and 5 practices? Did he ever relate what he saw? Who he interviewed? Why should we respect his observation of BJ Coleman? Give us a reason to respect his opinion.

How about this for a reason to respect his opinion about BJ Coleman. Vandy worksheet 4-8, under 40 yards, and an int that almost cost us the game. Not against Florida or LSU or Alabama but against Vanderbilt. BJ is right where he needs to be playing for that other UT in Chattanooga.

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