Apparently Tennessee doesn’t need Willie Mack Garza to close a deal.
Derek Dooley, who was named UT’s coach last Friday, has already sealed a big one without the departed assistant.
Eddrick Loften confirmed his intentions to sign with UT on Saturday, and the commitment from the defensive back out of Irving, Texas gives Dooley another solid addition to a class that has seemingly picked up steam over the last few days. And considering the 5-10, 195-pounder’s position, it provided another example that even with some uncertainty on the staff still, the new guy leading it knows what he’s doing.
“Coach Dooley is a straightforward person,” Loften said after becoming the 17th commitment for 2010 along with eight mid-term enrollees. “He told me he wants to come in and change the whole program around and everything, he told me about his background from NFL to college and everything he’s done, so he seemed like a pretty cool guy to me.
“Basically it was just talking to coach Dooley and everything about how he wanted to change the program around. Then with Eric Berry leaving and another defensive back (Dennis Rogan) leaving, it definitely can put me in a good position.”
Garza handled both of those guys as their position coach last year, and he also had the lead in recruiting Loften before unexpectedly leaving for Southern California last Thursday. But his decision to leave the Vols clearly didn’t impact Loften’s to join them, mostly because the Rivals.com four-star safety seemed more interested in the opportunity to contribute early and the way Berry was used a year ago.
Aside from linebackers coach Lance Thompson, the rest of the defensive staff has followed Lane Kiffin to join the Trojans. But Loften indicated that UT doesn’t plan on changing much from the system that worked pretty well a year ago and for a long time before that in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I kind of see myself being used like Eric Berry,” Loften said. “I see myself as a safety, and I like to come down and hit. That’s my thing.
“They told me a lot about how (Berry) would come down to the line of scrimmage and play up close and everything, but also play deep. That’s basically what they talked about, and they really want to do the same thing.”
Who will ultimately be in charge of that defense remains to be seen, though Tampa Bay linebackers coach Joe Barry has intimate knowledge of the system and appears to be a prime candidate for the coordinator’s job.
One sticking point might be a contract with the Buccaneers that still has a year left on it, but either way, Loften is putting his trust in Dooley.
“(Garza) up and leaving was a big surprise since he was the one that really recruited me and everything,” Loften said. “But I haven’t really thought that much about it. I tried calling him, other than that I haven’t really talked to him.
“Coach Garza is a real good person, he’s the one that called me and was talking to me, so he was a big part of it at first. But really it’s the schemes and the fans and everything there.”
One change on the coaching staff wasn’t enough to tilt the scales for Loften, even at his own position.