Dooley tempers talk of top 15 signing class

Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley talks about recruiting and the 2010 signing class on Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley talks about recruiting and the 2010 signing class on Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010 at Neyland Stadium.

Derek Dooley comments on UT's signing day

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With just 18 days to assemble a signing class, newly hired Tennessee coach Derek Dooley admitted there were some nervous times.

The days - then hours - seemed to move slowly as National Signing Day approached. Yet, despite some defections, the former Louisiana Tech coach appeared ready for big-time college football recruiting on Wednesday.

Led by Dooley, the Vols finished the day with 25 signees, ranking ninth, 11th and 15th nationally by Rivals.com, ESPN and Scout.com, respectively.

Still, Dooley tried to temper the enthusiasm during his signing-day press conference at Neyland Stadium.

"I think it's a little bit jumping the gun to get so excited for signing day even though I think it's a great event for the fans," he said.

Dooley pointed to UT's highly rated class of 2007 as proof. After achieving one of the highest ratings in the nation, Dooley said only 50 percent of those players are still on the roster.

UT's 2010 class finished just sixth in the SEC according to Scout and ESPN and fourth in the conference according to Rivals. SEC East rival Florida led all three lists for the top class in the nation.

Still, Wednesday was a day for UT fans to celebrate, even if only for avoiding disaster. When former coach Lane Kiffin bolted UT for Southern California on Jan. 12, even the most optimistic UT fan was concerned for the immediate recruiting future.

Although long gone, Kiffin's staff still played a significant role for the Vols on Wednesday. His eight midterm enrollees gave Dooley the opportunity to close strong.

"There's eight less guys you have to baby-sit and worry about these other schools coming in and attacking," Dooley said.

The fact that all of those eight decided to stay at UT - even though they would have to sit out a season if they transferred - also bolstered Dooley's position, he said. Had three or four left UT, other prospects might have gone on alert.

Besides assembling UT's 2010 class, Dooley and Kiffin share one other common bond: They both believe that recruiting well in Georgia is key to returning UT to a championship contender.

"One thing that is certain is that we have to do a good job in the state of Georgia, among other states," Dooley said. "There's a lot of good football players in that state. In the past in all my years watching this program, when they've won, they've had some very good players come out of Georgia."

Dooley, whose father Vince Dooley was a legendary coach at Georgia, still remembers being a Georgia graduate assistant and seeing offensive lineman Cosey Coleman, safety Deon Grant and tailback Jamal Lewis leave the state and help the Vols to a national championship in 1998.

The Vols signed six players from Georgia on Wednesday, none more significant than receiver Da'Rick Rogers. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder from Calhoun High School is considered the top prospect in Georgia and had been committed to the Bulldogs since June.

The reaction on social networking Web sites was strong when news leaked Tuesday night that Rogers had changed his mind and would sign with UT.

"I'm glad to be a Vol baby," Rogers said Wednesday on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page. "My Twitter went crazy, but I love it though. You're going to get negative people. You just have to look past it though."

The other late addition to UT's class came in the form of 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman James Stone from Maplewood High in Nashville. Stone was all but committed to Alabama when Kiffin was in charge. Dooley, who coached under Alabama coach Nick Saban for much of his career, scored one on his mentor.

"I was real happy James changed his mind and I was real happy he allowed me an opportunity to get in front of him," Dooley said, adding that recruiting within Tennessee's borders will be key to UT's improvement.

The Vols' one disappointing surprise Wednesday came when defensive end J.C. Copeland signed with LSU despite giving every indication that he would live up to his eight-month-long commitment to UT.

Before signing day, the Vols learned they were going to lose out on two other commitments. Linebacker Glen Stanley from Eastern Arizona Junior College signed with USC while linebacker Ralph Williams from Southridge High in Miami signed with Ole Miss.

That, along with the pressures of building a class in three weeks, opened the door for a lower-rated prospect to sign with UT. Raiques Crump from Minor High in Adamsville, Ala., was one of a handful of UT signees who only had scholarship offers from lower-level schools.

"I evaluate with my eyes, not with my ears and not on the computer," Dooley said. "There were several guys we signed that were not publicized as high profile prospects.

"Not one of them did I take because we couldn't get somebody else. We took them because we believe they can really help our football team build a good corps on the team and help us on special teams. I think there's a lot of value in all these guys."

Dooley already sees future value in some big guys. The Vols signed only four offensive linemen and one defensive tackle on Wednesday despite having pressing needs at both positions.

"There's no question; next year's class better be heavy with some linemen," Dooley said.

Perhaps it won't take that long. Dooley didn't rule out signing another prospect in the coming weeks.

"We have one or two spots where if the right player comes in and fits what we need, we have that flexibility," Dooley said.

Only this time, there won't be quite so much pressure to recruit them.

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Comments » 132

NoSirRee writes:

Nice job saving the class and adding a few gems Dooley. Hope you can coach too, best of luck.

BigBadVol writes:

I love coach Dooley's attitude. This guy is a winner. Give him time and we will be at the top once again.

SoddyVol writes:

Looks like we did well in a couple needed areas. No ranking lower than 15 and one in top 10 seems great compared to what could have been. Good job Mr.Dooley.

KingMikey writes:

Need One More Player - Zak Tait

LadyVolsEighTimes writes:

Go Volssssssssss

Homermoosevols writes:

I said its great to be a Tennessee VOL! I am so proud of our univerity, our state, and our fan base. No matter what, we are the University of Tennessee. BLEED ORANGE RECRUITS. If you build it, they will come.

runninbroke writes:

Great job in a short amount of time! Keep up the hard work!!

jcp201 writes:

Really love this coach. I'm a happy Tennessee Fan again.

Bloodrunzorange writes:

Anyone know where Glass signed? Is he a Vol?

tnsportsman writes:

Great Job Coach Dooley! This 2010 Top 8 class is the beginning of what Tennessee is all about. The Staff hires are excellent. Coach them up and go win the games!

Rivals # 8 Recruiting Ranking for Tennessee is what KNS should be using, not just Top 15!

But we as the VOLNATION know the score!

GO BIG ORANGE!

PrimeTime writes:

Can you say WR "U" is back?

UTOTIS writes:

Double D is the man. I'm proud to be a Vol & have great confidence in him. With Lame, both confidence & likability - I felt like I had to "force it out." Not with DD though...it's an automatic kinda thing.

Ironcity writes:

in response to KingMikey:

Need One More Player - Zak Tait

I would like that pick up. Players who rehab hard know what it takes to succeed.

NJVolFan writes:

Great job Coach Dooley; you did the University and yourself very proud. It's a great day to be a VOL fan!

nocleats writes:

If a D lineman is out there, TN has a need for a DT big time... GBO

slov writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

Great Job Coach Dooley! This 2010 Top 8 class is the beginning of what Tennessee is all about. The Staff hires are excellent. Coach them up and go win the games!

Rivals # 8 Recruiting Ranking for Tennessee is what KNS should be using, not just Top 15!

But we as the VOLNATION know the score!

GO BIG ORANGE!

#9 from rivals and espn...

slov writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

thats funny...

TheDudeAbides writes:

Great Job Coach! Congratulations on a great-looking class and DC hire!

tnsportsman writes:

in response to bigorangekoolaid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Which makes this class even more special, they hung in there because of TENNESSEE, not the Liar Surfer Dude and his scumbags!

We have a head Coach and Staff now that will sell TENNESSEE not themselves!

All the other media outlets in Tennessee and here in Nashville is using our # 8 Ranked Class, wonder why Hooker wouldn't, LOL? Think we know the answer!

GO BIG ORANGE!

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

Great job Coach Dooley!!!

Now go get a Tennessee driver's license

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to VOLstuckINky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In a way, I'd kinda like to see him do that too, VOLinKY. But I think we both know that this man has too much class to lower himself to the same M.O. as the former coach who shall remain nameless. I love how Coach Dooley operates...coolness, class, dignity, integrity, honesty. Refreshing ain't it?

GO VOLS & COACH DOOLEY!!!
JUGHEAD

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

cold man....really cold

lol

HtownVol writes:

We still have a shot at Glass,

ESPN has UT ranked at #9. WOW! I WILL TAKE THAT ANY YEAR!. WR U !!! All these WRs have speed and height. Look out every one. If we get a good line that could be a great Offense!

Mjollnir writes:

in response to bigorangekoolaid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why don't you take your "rank" arse in the kitchen and mix up a big, ice cold pitcher of pink "Gator" Aid?

rockytopatl writes:

Just checked all three ratings and we're Top 10 in all three:
ESPN 9
Scout 8
Rivals 9

That equals out to a Tennessee butt kicking considering where we were three weeks ago.

GBO!

west_georgia_vol_fan writes:

What I like most is his maturity and straight forwardness. He will bring dignity back to TN football. Our program and coaches will be admired again. Sorry about JC, but, believe me, he is a good kid whose head was turned by a day long visit to our school last week AND he was influenced by another LSU committ at our school.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Just checked all three ratings and we're Top 10 in all three:
ESPN 9
Scout 8
Rivals 9

That equals out to a Tennessee butt kicking considering where we were three weeks ago.

GBO!

Correction: 15 in Scout.

For some reason, 2009 came up instead of 2010. But two out of three ain't bad, according to Meatloaf.

PrimeTime writes:

in response to bigorangekoolaid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't worry, they will catch a pass fo sho!!

AFVol423 writes:

Nice job Coach. My spirits are much higher now than they were a month ago. GBO!!!

dgcarter43 writes:

This coach is a class act. He will represent UT very well and he will demand that same image from the team. i especially like the way he is looking at everything long term. I expect an explosive offense and hopefully the new DC can coach up the defense. UT is headed in the right direction. Thanks coach Dooley.

Mommasboy writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

Great Job Coach Dooley! This 2010 Top 8 class is the beginning of what Tennessee is all about. The Staff hires are excellent. Coach them up and go win the games!

Rivals # 8 Recruiting Ranking for Tennessee is what KNS should be using, not just Top 15!

But we as the VOLNATION know the score!

GO BIG ORANGE!

You might want to look at Rivals before you post. We are ranked #9 behind UCLA. Still a great class

crimsonviper writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Give a rest Naffy.
Your krap is really tired.

TheDudeAbides writes:

in response to west_georgia_vol_fan:

What I like most is his maturity and straight forwardness. He will bring dignity back to TN football. Our program and coaches will be admired again. Sorry about JC, but, believe me, he is a good kid whose head was turned by a day long visit to our school last week AND he was influenced by another LSU committ at our school.

Copeland might actually be 'a good kid', as u suggest, but he seemed to be lying to the last minute about being committed to UT.
That's not too cool.

beaus27 writes:

I live in Tallahassee, so I am relieved that CDD has this recruiting success so early in his first year has HC. Plus hiring Justin Wilcox only sweetens the deal for 2010 season & so on.
A Big GBO from deep in 'Noles territory!

volpreacher writes:

I just want to know where are the other 7-8 players promised? I love these signees but we were told that with the early enrollees to expect 30-32 players since 5 would count on last years class.

Mtnbiker writes:

Funny how Im more inclined to make the trip to Knoxville for the O & W game this year. Wanted to go last, but after this off season im so glad i missed it.

shopsports#273141 writes:

in response to volpreacher:

I just want to know where are the other 7-8 players promised? I love these signees but we were told that with the early enrollees to expect 30-32 players since 5 would count on last years class.

When and by whom were YOU and the frog in your pocket, promised these things? WE were not promised any of this.

Mommasboy writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The fact that you mentioned running back's in your post shows how clueless you are. We have a stable full of quality, young tailbacks raring to go.

99gator writes:

very good job by dooley.

put together a group of good players under the worst of circumstances.

RCVOLIN10 writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

Which makes this class even more special, they hung in there because of TENNESSEE, not the Liar Surfer Dude and his scumbags!

We have a head Coach and Staff now that will sell TENNESSEE not themselves!

All the other media outlets in Tennessee and here in Nashville is using our # 8 Ranked Class, wonder why Hooker wouldn't, LOL? Think we know the answer!

GO BIG ORANGE!

He probably looked at a different recruiting service. For whatever reason different services grade differently. it's not a knock on the kids, just a difference in evaluating.

Mommasboy writes:

in response to 99gator:

very good job by dooley.

put together a group of good players under the worst of circumstances.

Thanks 99...in all sincerity, what are the chances the Urbanator goes back into retirement before the season starts? My gut is saying that he re-retires.

RCVOLIN10 writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's a process, can't fix it all in one year. I believe coach can get it done given time. It will take 3 years to build the relationships he needs with the high school coaches. A lot of young guys will play the next 2 seasons because they will have to. Then he can start building depth.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to slov:

#9 from rivals and espn...

LOL well UT was #8 Rivals at 6 PM Central on the News, guess they made an adjustments. So OK Top 10 Hooker, not Top 15!

hueypilot writes:

in response to triumphtheinsultcomicdog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks Gator Fan. Tip of the hat to you guys too. The rich just keep getting richer. See you in Knoxville in September

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

in response to jcp201:

Really love this coach. I'm a happy Tennessee Fan again.

Thanks to AD. Hamilton .

volpreacher writes:

in response to shopsports#273141:

When and by whom were YOU and the frog in your pocket, promised these things? WE were not promised any of this.

Maybe promised was the wrong word. We (the fans) were told by numerous articles this past week to expect UT to sign 30-32 players with 5 of them counting on last years class. If UT doesn't do this, then they will continue to be way under manned to other teams. We were down 22 players last year and could make up 5 of those this year if we would sign them. Don't be so pompus!!

BigHornBuckShot writes:

in response to VOLstuckINky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please take time to explain to me why Kiffin is a sob and Dooley is not. Please.

tnaseevol writes:

in response to bigorangekoolaid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

are you a 'doggie downer' or just trying to calm us? I would rather be a 'puppy upper' for NSD!

shopsports#273141 writes:

Honestly, Dooley sounded to me like " I don't have a clue about these guys and they don't have a clue about me". We were just hanging on for dear life. He also didn't sound very lawyerly (analytic) when he said he didn't go by the "computer" just his eyes. He surely will go by a lot of different things in the future. The new staff seems good and I sure hope Chuck Smith will be the last arm. I am depending on Dooley's gator hating DNA and his motivation to prove himself amongst the Ugly historians, to make him a great Tennessee Vol. All facets of his background have to be an upgrade.

99gator writes:

in response to Mommasboy:

Thanks 99...in all sincerity, what are the chances the Urbanator goes back into retirement before the season starts? My gut is saying that he re-retires.

i think the chances are slim.

however, i don't know how anyone can be certain of anything anymore. nothing would surprise me.

i believe he has every intention to coach as long as everything is ok. however, he could have a doctor's visit that changes things.

or he could be like bo schembechler who had heart problems and still coached at michigan for over 20 years.

who knows?

but, my guess is he will be at florida a for a few more years.

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