Hooker: More openings than optimism for 2010

Dave Hooker

On its way to a 5-5 record this season, Tennessee has had to deal with a shortage of talent it has rarely seen.

The Vols have been forced to rely on walk-ons and freshmen more than at any time in recent memory. And, based on UT's roster, it could get worse before it gets better.

That's bad news for UT fans starving for a championship contender, but good news for prospects looking to play right away.

In 2010, UT will have to replace starting quarterback Jonathan Crompton, leading rusher Montario Hardesty, five offensive linemen who have started at least one game - Chris Scott, Vladimir Richard, Cody Sullins, Cory Sullins, Jacques McClendon and Josh McNeil - solid tight end Jeff Cottam, its two best defensive tackles in Dan Williams and Wes Brown, its best linebacker in Rico McCoy and likely its best overall player, safety Eric Berry, who is expected to forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

That's quite a list.

Here are the classes that will be expected to fill the many voids. Before reading, I warn you, don't get your hopes up.

2006

Some redshirted players could help, but not many of the 22 signees are left.

Two players from the class have moved on after playing four years. Seven others were dismissed or left the program.

Nick Stephens will have a head start to start at quarterback.

Jarrod Shaw could be a starter on the offensive line. Tight end Luke Stocker should prove to be a valuable offensive weapon.

LaMarcus Thompson will be counted on to be a leader for the linebackers.

Tackle Victor Thomas could help on the defensive line.

Punter Chad Cunningham and kicker Daniel Lincoln both return.

2007

Attrition has hit this class hard. Nine 2007 signees either never made it to UT or have left the program under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Receiver Gerald Jones and defensive ends Chris Walker and Ben Martin will be expected to provide big plays and leadership.

Denarius Moore and Jones should continue to improve and be a formidable one-two punch at receiver.

Cody Pope should help on the offensive line. He was competing for a starting position in preseason camp.

Kevin Cooper is a solid fullback.

Linebackers Daryl Vereen and Josh Hawkins need to prove their worth or risk getting passed on the depth chart by younger players, including incoming freshmen. Savion Frazier could land a starting job at linebacker.

The 2007 class was rich in defensive backs. Anthony Anderson, Art Evans, Dennis Rogan and Brent Vinson can all be counted on next season.

2008

Most believe this was Phillip Fulmer's worst signing class - and it hasn't gotten better with time. But there are some highlights.

Offensive tackle Aaron Douglas is a star in the making. More will be expected out of Dallas Thomas, likely at tackle.

Defensive lineman Willie Bohannon and end Gerald Williams have shown flashes of promise. End Steven Fowlkes also has ability. Tackle Montori Hughes had a big off-season but hasn't lived up to the billing in 2009. Still, he's a freshman with great ability.

Linebacker Herman Lathers needs to continue to improve, especially if he's going to play middle linebacker and handle UT's defensive calls.

Tailback Tauren Poole showed flashes in preseason camp but has been relegated to a back-up role.

Austin Johnson should be a nice complement to Cooper at fullback.

Stephaun Raines and Prentiss Waggner should help in the secondary.

2009

The Vols have lost two highly rated signees: receiver Nu'Keese Richardson and defensive back Mike Edwards. The jury is still out on safety Janzen Jackson. Safety Darren Myles almost assuredly will play next season.

Bryce Brown should be a more-than-adequate fill-in for Hardesty but he'll need help from classmate David Oku or Poole.

Linebacker Greg King has tremendous upside.

Receiver Marsalis Teague has worked his way into the receiver rotation.

Marlon Walls should help at defensive tackle.

2010

We'll see who can play when they arrive on campus. But there's no doubt, they'll get their shot.

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

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Comments » 77

Voluvr writes:

I'm very optimistic. Btw, Lincoln and Cunningham will both be challenged by Michael Palardy. Check him out on youtube, punting and kicking. Best leg UT has ever had.

Voluvr writes:

Palardy booms 55 yarders from the ground with ease. Every kickoff is out of the endzone. Up to 6.5 hangtime on 50-60 yd. punts.

bluetickhoundguy writes:

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Hooker just can't bring himself to be the least bit optimistic, but the KNS writers seem to go out of their way to be negative. I understand that it isn't the media's job to shake the Pom-Poms for the program but try to be at least a LITTLE positive....

vol_chaz writes:

Let Bray run the Offense next year, and if we get Luc, we can let him run the D. The future looks bright, but we are at least 2 years away...

murrayvol writes:

The Vols will trot out more freshmen & sophomores on the 2 deep next year than we've seen in awhile. Not usually a good thing in the SEC.

the10sevol writes:

kinda hard to see ahead while lookin' in the rear view mirror, ain't it, hook? those numbers are represenative of every bcs team. but here's a hint...if we, like everybody else, lose many recruits (for whatever reason), i'd rather be losing 4* and 5* recruits than 3*'s. this nsd will be special for kiff, pearl just stole his thunder momentarily.

2011 is the year we play our way back uptown.

GBO

CoverOrange writes:

in response to murrayvol:

The Vols will trot out more freshmen & sophomores on the 2 deep next year than we've seen in awhile. Not usually a good thing in the SEC.

It worked pretty well for Florida and Alabama. The key is not just to get the best talent but the best talent ready to play - meaning neurons firing between the ears.

abnermc writes:

No mention of the Rogers Bros. or Chris Donald?

abnermc writes:

What abt. ...Ben Bartholomew,Brimfield,C.J. Fleming,Mitchell-Thornton,Chase Nelson,Nick Reveiz,Sykes,Toney Williams ? I'm just saying...

DennisVols writes:

Seemed to have forgot one big player in this list.
T. Williams who tore an ACL during camp. At the time he was the most impressive back we had outside of Hardesty.
He will return next year in a big way. He can run, catch and make big time plays out of the backfield.
Give Kiffin a couple of years and we can return to the time of reloading, instead of rebuilding.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

Ironcity writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Palardy booms 55 yarders from the ground with ease. Every kickoff is out of the endzone. Up to 6.5 hangtime on 50-60 yd. punts.

Heck why not skip college and go to the pro's. No one in the NFL booms 50-60 yard punts with 61/2 second hang times.

Its no wonder we as fans are always disappointed. We put expectations on these kids that no one could possibly meet and if their not met, we blame the coaches.

Lets quit predicting Pro Bowl results from incoming Freshman.

UT4ever writes:

Finally a normal article.....well done KNS, bout time u told Adams to pizz off long enough to write something worthy of print! HOHOHO!!!!

colt writes:

Tennessee will continue to improve next year and move into the top 20. The year after top 5. The year after top 3. Book it. But I've got to tell you, I love this years team for setting the ground work.

wayoutwill writes:

Sounds like a great time to have such a great punter and if Lincoln is the best Kicker that the Vols could have found then we must have been in La_La Land!"Kiff" has that cool rap song to give him "street cred" and his recruits are thugs that will rob you for a cheeseburger;(they had the "munchies")--Al Davis is looking smarter than we thought when he got rid of "that liar" and hired the immortal Tom Cable!Can we hear that rap song "blaring" thru the stadium speakers one more time--We haven't had a new Coach in er,eh,let's see..about 11 months and 11 days?

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to wayoutwill:

Sounds like a great time to have such a great punter and if Lincoln is the best Kicker that the Vols could have found then we must have been in La_La Land!"Kiff" has that cool rap song to give him "street cred" and his recruits are thugs that will rob you for a cheeseburger;(they had the "munchies")--Al Davis is looking smarter than we thought when he got rid of "that liar" and hired the immortal Tom Cable!Can we hear that rap song "blaring" thru the stadium speakers one more time--We haven't had a new Coach in er,eh,let's see..about 11 months and 11 days?

Yawn.

mlsoft#228820 writes:

in response to reyem060809:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I was under the impression that today was Jackson's day in court -- any word??

I also keep hearing that Hamilton wants him gone -- he thinks he is a bad apple. And that we have only heard part of Jackson's travails -- apparently he has left a trail of bad decisions and we may be better off without him. A lot of folks in E Tennessee seem to think he is basically a thug -- a very talented thug, but still a thug who needs to grow up in a hurry or he will not be here for 2010 regardless of what decision Kiffin makes now.

Hope all that is wrong, but I am hearing it from folks who are pretty well informed.

mlsoft

mlsoft#228820 writes:

in response to mlsoft#228820:

I was under the impression that today was Jackson's day in court -- any word??

I also keep hearing that Hamilton wants him gone -- he thinks he is a bad apple. And that we have only heard part of Jackson's travails -- apparently he has left a trail of bad decisions and we may be better off without him. A lot of folks in E Tennessee seem to think he is basically a thug -- a very talented thug, but still a thug who needs to grow up in a hurry or he will not be here for 2010 regardless of what decision Kiffin makes now.

Hope all that is wrong, but I am hearing it from folks who are pretty well informed.

mlsoft

I just checked and Jackson's court date is Monday. I forgot to mention in my previous post that the word is that Coach Kiffin and others are pulling out all the stops to get the charges dismissed in hopes of keeping him.

mlsoft

flashbone21 writes:

in response to rbrmoc:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

by "stick up" are u describing the object in your rectal xray??

TommyJack writes:

in response to flashbone21:

by "stick up" are u describing the object in your rectal xray??

Bwahahahahahahahaha

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to mlsoft#228820:

I just checked and Jackson's court date is Monday. I forgot to mention in my previous post that the word is that Coach Kiffin and others are pulling out all the stops to get the charges dismissed in hopes of keeping him.

mlsoft

If he is what he appears to be, let him go. People like that will get into trouble again, so it is inevitable. They corrupt others on the team. Take note that there were three together this past time. That's a hint. They find one another out and hang together...and get into trouble together. He's a bad apple and he'll corrupt some more.

Liberal_Vol writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

If he is what he appears to be, let him go. People like that will get into trouble again, so it is inevitable. They corrupt others on the team. Take note that there were three together this past time. That's a hint. They find one another out and hang together...and get into trouble together. He's a bad apple and he'll corrupt some more.

You got that right Joe. I've been yelling since it happened to can this jerk. Sooner the better.

teampenny#658108 writes:

We have always had arrests and "incidents". How we handle the problems are what counts the most. No comment, stalling and stealing is just a citation like speeding in my opinion not the way to do this. Sometimes when LK talks he makes Al Davis look right.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Heck why not skip college and go to the pro's. No one in the NFL booms 50-60 yard punts with 61/2 second hang times.

Its no wonder we as fans are always disappointed. We put expectations on these kids that no one could possibly meet and if their not met, we blame the coaches.

Lets quit predicting Pro Bowl results from incoming Freshman.

Last I checked the NFL will not let you go from high school to NFL!!!
OH I get an attempt at humor hahahaha, we wouldn't be fans if we didn't blow expectations up!!!
GO VOLS
Palardy for a 75 yd FG, BOOK IT
TXVOLSFAN

txvolsfan writes:

in response to wayoutwill:

Sounds like a great time to have such a great punter and if Lincoln is the best Kicker that the Vols could have found then we must have been in La_La Land!"Kiff" has that cool rap song to give him "street cred" and his recruits are thugs that will rob you for a cheeseburger;(they had the "munchies")--Al Davis is looking smarter than we thought when he got rid of "that liar" and hired the immortal Tom Cable!Can we hear that rap song "blaring" thru the stadium speakers one more time--We haven't had a new Coach in er,eh,let's see..about 11 months and 11 days?

Yea, Only 25 more arrest to catch up with lil Urbie"Mr. Golden Dome" Cryer!!!
I hope Cryer stays, so we can hear his excuses about a pandemic when Stones Kiffin waxes his arse on a regular basis!!!
Now that is going to be funny.
He is such a little girl.

ThurmondEppy writes:

in response to Voluvr:

I'm very optimistic. Btw, Lincoln and Cunningham will both be challenged by Michael Palardy. Check him out on youtube, punting and kicking. Best leg UT has ever had.

"Challenged"?
That might be the biggest understatement yet. I expect this to be perhaps our biggest impact player.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Pls Mr. Hooker, it is not necessary to remind us of of the depth we have plunged to, that some choose not to see.

We'll have to cinch 'em up and take the 8 wins this season as a masterful coaching job, albeit gone with duct tape and bailing wire.

The well was nearly dry.

VOLinDAWGland writes:

Hooker is simply being realistic and I agree, 7-8 wins will be a challenge again next year. What will make it more fun is watching all the youngsters learning on the job. We have a very deep roster hole to climb out of.

vol98champ writes:

We have filled our biggest need with Palardy. If he had been here this year we would be at least 7-3. Let's stay positive. The negative stuff on Fulmer killed us the last 4 or 5 years. Ignore the Fla/Buma idiots.

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to wayoutwill:

Sounds like a great time to have such a great punter and if Lincoln is the best Kicker that the Vols could have found then we must have been in La_La Land!"Kiff" has that cool rap song to give him "street cred" and his recruits are thugs that will rob you for a cheeseburger;(they had the "munchies")--Al Davis is looking smarter than we thought when he got rid of "that liar" and hired the immortal Tom Cable!Can we hear that rap song "blaring" thru the stadium speakers one more time--We haven't had a new Coach in er,eh,let's see..about 11 months and 11 days?

Wish we could go, er, eh, let's see.. about 11 months and 11 days without hearing from WAYOUTTHEREWILL!!!

Go find another team to pull for, no one wants you here (except maybe GATORgiZZ, Kman, reyem899903, RMFT987 and all the other 'loper trash)

GO VOLS!!! GO CLK!!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Preach on, brother.

From shambles to maybe Music City and then next year, crank it up.

beartn#223846 writes:

I don't think the article is negative. We do have some holes to fill, and we need 2 more recruiting classes to fill them. I think we will be better next year, but won't challenge for the SEC East until 2011.

rootin4volz writes:

Wow, Hooker...Looks to me like you just got your shot in.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Paid troll, yes. gator, no.

cc623 writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

We have always had arrests and "incidents". How we handle the problems are what counts the most. No comment, stalling and stealing is just a citation like speeding in my opinion not the way to do this. Sometimes when LK talks he makes Al Davis look right.

Your post is moronic at best.When CLK got ALL the info on Richardson and Edwards what happened?They were cut from the team.Up to that point they were held from ALL team activities.So,just because he does not say suspension does not mean they were not suspended from the team.Jackson on the other hand(still suspended though)has been for the most part cleared and will still get his day in court but,you don't let guilty parties out of jail on their own recognizance if they are guilty.Now on to Oliver and why it took this long to hear about anything.It would be very easy for this citation to have gone un-noticed because he was never taken into custody.I feel he should serve a very lengthy suspension if not dismissed but,we will see what happens.Up to this point CLK has handled every situation with the class,respect,and decency that this institution expects.nuff said!

chad_t31 writes:

Half of the things we worry about never happen. Here's to keeping the faith...go Vols!!!

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to chad_t31:

Half of the things we worry about never happen. Here's to keeping the faith...go Vols!!!

Agree! Looking at what this coaching staff has done with this team, I'm not worried about the future!
I do not believe next year will be great, but only because we lose so many starters. I still think CLK and company can coach 'em up and field a competitive team. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of years.

"We the few, led by many, have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to anything with nothing!"

GO VOLS!!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Pls Mr. Hooker, it is not necessary to remind us of of the depth we have plunged to, that some choose not to see.

We'll have to cinch 'em up and take the 8 wins this season as a masterful coaching job, albeit gone with duct tape and bailing wire.

The well was nearly dry.

Yes it was and we were oh so close to going 6-6 and plumbing the depths of even more frustration and futility.

Some things are meant to be.

murrayvol writes:

This is not a negative article. Facts are what they are and as much as all of us would like to compete for an NC next year, it's not gonna happen.

That said, I think we'll be competitive and capable of winning any game on our schedule in 2010.

VolFanNC writes:

Next year certainly has the look of a hard year. The scedhule is also the hardest I have seen. Probably looking at a mediocre year next year, but prepping for 2011 which should be the breakout year.

mbible1utk#324980 writes:

i think it's funny how people who we have never seen before randomly show up, dress themselves as Vol fans, and try to start excess rumors about Janzen Jackson, acting like a.) they have insider information, and b.) they believe that everyone should rally around to run off players.

If I saw this information coming from someone who has been here a while, and proven their words are trustworthy, I will believe it, otherwise, we need the more naive amongst us not to jump on rumors.

ATLVOL55 writes:

Why we lose a lot for sure so does a lot of our competition. Florida losing Tebow, Spikes, Dunlap, Cooper, and maybe a couple of offensive lineman. UGA loses its QB, its entire defensive front, and some others. Still not sold on LSU's QB. While I think Alabama will be the clear favorite in the SEC next year, luckily for the Vols I think we can still be right in there.

Lets face it we were playing with a couple of walk ons on the O-line. While Hardesty has been great, we will be fine at RB. All of our WR's are back so that is a strength.

Also, lets not forget Reviez should be back with all of our corners. And we have Monte...the defense will be fine

TommyJack writes:

in response to murrayvol:

This is not a negative article. Facts are what they are and as much as all of us would like to compete for an NC next year, it's not gonna happen.

That said, I think we'll be competitive and capable of winning any game on our schedule in 2010.

Right. Not negative. The "headline" writer set and incorrect tone on this one. IMO

volsfan90 writes:

Cunningham and Lincoln should not touch the field next year!! Maybe they one of them can hold for Palardy.. this kid is amazing and it would be a slap in the face for our untalented Kicker and Punter to play over him at either of the positions.. I bet if the 2010 Longsnapper's a-$-$ had a vote it would be anyone but Lincoln and half the TDs our defense has allowed this year was thanks to Chad Cantpuntingham aka "The Shankmeister"

USMCVOL4LIF writes:

in response to wayoutwill:

Sounds like a great time to have such a great punter and if Lincoln is the best Kicker that the Vols could have found then we must have been in La_La Land!"Kiff" has that cool rap song to give him "street cred" and his recruits are thugs that will rob you for a cheeseburger;(they had the "munchies")--Al Davis is looking smarter than we thought when he got rid of "that liar" and hired the immortal Tom Cable!Can we hear that rap song "blaring" thru the stadium speakers one more time--We haven't had a new Coach in er,eh,let's see..about 11 months and 11 days?

Forget your medicine this morning?

vestc#256986 writes:

in response to abnermc:

What abt. ...Ben Bartholomew,Brimfield,C.J. Fleming,Mitchell-Thornton,Chase Nelson,Nick Reveiz,Sykes,Toney Williams ? I'm just saying...

I agree. Hook & the KNS must have only spent 6 minutes wrting this article. Nothing more than papper filler.

vestc#256986 writes:

Hey and I'm optimistic after watching these coaches coach this team up. A better kicking game and another month to get Crompton ready and we could've won about every game this season. Its a game of inches and great coaches can get you those inches. I'm just glad we are settling for mediocracy anymore. I think we surprise people next season and then put it all together in 2011-12.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to vestc#256986:

I agree. Hook & the KNS must have only spent 6 minutes wrting this article. Nothing more than papper filler.

Have to join in with the "this article is a piece of cr*#" crowd. I think the 6 minutes probably included a bathroom break.

Hook - look at the roster first before writing an article. Writing from memory can be a tricky thing. We have some quality guys working their tails off in practice/conditioning/weight room every day that are not playing this year. I think the staff has proven they can take about anybody with heart and make a real player out of them. Somehow they managed to work some really good true and redshirt freshmen into the line-up this year, which is likely to produce a winning season capped by a bowl. Maybe it's just me, but I kinda think it might happen again next year with an even better batch. Another winning season capped by a bowl - then into the NC hunt in 2011 and beyond.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to Liberal_Vol:

You got that right Joe. I've been yelling since it happened to can this jerk. Sooner the better.

everyone was screaming to give Hood the rapist a second chance and now they want to kick JJ off the team for a much lesser offense than rape. Double standards for some.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bluetickhoundguy:

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Hooker just can't bring himself to be the least bit optimistic, but the KNS writers seem to go out of their way to be negative. I understand that it isn't the media's job to shake the Pom-Poms for the program but try to be at least a LITTLE positive....

He mentioned a fair number of positives. The problem is that there just aren't a whole lot of them. Next year's team will be the thinnest and youngest UT has ever fielded at several key positions. It's a fact; get used to it. We will have a lot of promising young talent and will be a dangerous team. We do have most of our key rivals at home. However, the overall schedule is tougher. Next year's team will at least have to be luckier with injuries to have a chance at as good a record. I can hear the boo birds and faint-hearts now, but patience is needed. We WILL be better in every way in 2011.

volpreacher writes:

Oh by the way, for all of you who thought BJ Coleman was done dirty, he has 36 yds passing with 4 minutes to go against Alabama. 2 INT to go along with that.

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