Class of '07 a case of unfulfilled promise

Select few lived up to Top-5 ranking

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It usually takes more than one recruiting class to turn a program into a has-been. But Tennessee's 2007 signing class could dispel that notion.

If forced to pick one signing class that could undermine first-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley's chance to succeed immediately, the 2007 class tops the list.

An astonishing 17 signees from 2007 failed to complete their eligibility at UT.

The 32-member class that was considered by most of the recruiting services as one of the top five classes in the nation, has produced just one first-team All-SEC player: safety Eric Berry.

The class that some thought could catapult the Vols into championship contenders has produced just eight true starters. Others eventually started, filling in for injured players.

Although it may be hard to recall, the 2007 class was a fan favorite - for two reasons.

First, it was thought to be loaded with talent. It was ranked third-and fourth-best in the nation by Rivals.com and Scout.com, respectively.

Second, it was stocked with 10 in-state prospects. Yet, in retrospect, those players provided a shaky foundation.

The biggest disappointment - in-state or otherwise - from the 2007 class was linebacker Chris Donald from Huntingdon High School. Donald was considered the top prospect in the state that year. He was shuffled from one position to another, rarely played and transferred to Chattanooga in January.

UT's most successful Knoxville player from 2007 was defensive back Dennis Rogan from Fulton. Yet his contribution was bittersweet.

Rogan locked down a starting position but bolted after his junior season for the NFL draft in April and wasn't selected.

Other in-state players didn't make it that long.

In 2007, UT took three players from Chattanooga: fullback Kevin Cooper from Baylor, quarterback B.J. Coleman from McCallie and defensive end Cory Hall from Brainerd. Only one remains.

Cooper is still on the team and is the top fullback. Coleman transferred to Chattanooga for more playing time. Hall never qualified academically.

Former Austin-East standout Anthony Anderson continues to compete for snaps, along with receiver Todd Campbell, who is from Franklin.

Defensive end Rae Sykes from Alcoa had to attend junior college to improve his academics. He joined the Vols last year.

Maryville receiver Tyler Maples and Loudon linebacker Josh Hawkins left UT to pursue more playing time elsewhere.

The one in-state standout from 2007 is starting defensive end Chris Walker from Christian Brothers in Memphis.

The misses didn't just come from in-state players. Former coach Phillip Fulmer's last highly rated group began to show cracks early.

Four signees failed to qualify. That, however, paled in comparison to the attrition to come.

Nine signees left UT's program when it appeared they wouldn't play. Some, like Coleman and offensive lineman Darris Sawtelle, cited issues with former UT coach Lane Kiffin as one of the primary reasons for their departure.

Another, tailback Lennon Creer, seemed to have good talent but didn't believe he'd be a good fit for Kiffin's offense.

Kiffin's often-blunt assessment of his inherited players was coarse, not coaxing, which prompted several 2007 signees to leave UT.

Cornerback Brent Vinson was one of the most talented players signed in 2007 but never got along with Kiffin and left UT in December.

The 2007 class isn't all gloom and doom. Here are some contributors:

n Walker could be a standout player if healthy.

n Receiver Gerald Jones has produced, but injuries have kept him from reaching his recruiting reputation, which had him pegged as one of the top 100 prospects in the nation.

n Cooper is a solid fullback, but the Vols will likely play more two-tight end sets this fall with no fullback on the field.

n Cornerback Art Evans has had his ups and downs, but likely will start this season.

n Defensive end Ben Martin seems to have locked down a starting position, but hasn't grown into the player his recruiting pedigree suggested.

n Receiver Denarius Moore has speed but has had some key drops.

n Offensive lineman Cody Pope could start at center this season.

n Savion Frazier, who started in relief of Nick Reveiz when he suffered a knee injury in 2009, is also recovering from ACL surgery.

n Linebacker Daryl Vereen should provide depth this season.

Even when the Vols found solid starters in 2007, they were still snake bit.

Berry was a once-in-a-decade type of player but understandably cut his UT career short to enter the NFL draft a year early and was picked with the fifth overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs. All that means he won't be helping the Vols this season.

That falls on the remaining members of UT's 2007 class. Most are seniors. Those that redshirted during their careers are juniors.

They still have some time to turn UT's program around - again.

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Comments » 18

dvhill100 writes:

Okay, we know the last few years have not been up to the level we need to be at. Hopefully DD will change that.

jasonsq85#219731 writes:

Dang Hooker, you sure do like to beat a dead horse... it might be time to find a hobby. One of these days you might have an article worth reading, if you would quit rewriting essentially the same thing in 10 different ways.

westknoxvol24 writes:

solid...what if?

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

I remember Cory Hall (from Brainerd in Chatt) being on the local Chatt Sports Talk right after he committed to TN and I was so excited to be getting a local stud. Didn't qualify academically. That was a shame he was a beast on the field but, listening to him talk, you could kind of get the sense of "all brawn and no brain" with that guy.

I mentioned the other day local Chatt native and current Vol Phoebe Wright of the track team was the 2007 Chattanooga Female Player of the year, I'm almost certain Cory Hall was the male representative that year also....

Orangeyouavol writes:

2 articles from Hooker, twice Lane Kiffins name was brought up. Hummmm, Sounds like a love affair.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to Orangeyouavol:

2 articles from Hooker, twice Lane Kiffins name was brought up. Hummmm, Sounds like a love affair.

beck says obama 50 times a day and theres no love affair--no, this sounds like a stupid post

Psychovol writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

beck says obama 50 times a day and theres no love affair--no, this sounds like a stupid post

Funny and accurate. Good post.

Psychovol writes:

Fulmer out of incompetence and Kiffin out of premeditated malice, have effectively castrated UT football. DD has his work cut out for him and so do UT's fans. Our job will be to exercise patience and tolerance while showing enthusiam supporting our Vols.

HtownVol writes:

The biggest surprise on there was Lennon Creer. I never understood why he left.

The only threat he had was Montario, but was he so scared of two Freshmen (Oku and Brown). O well, UT is stocked at RB for many years.

The quote about D Moore was a under statement. "A few drops"....Yeah in every game.

Moore is a threat, but he has the worst hands on the team. He gets excited that he is about to score and just looks away from the ball. That also is OK, UT has more than enough WRs this year.

I keep saying, UTs future will be dependant on one thing in 2010. Effort. We may not have the talent to win 9 games, but if this team gives it all they have EVERY PLAY next year and NEVER gives up, then we can be excited about the future.

This staff will recruit. 2 straight top 10 classes is a heck of a start, and when CDD and staff signs 2-3 more then UT will have as much talent on the team as any team in the country.

Therefore in 2010 is when CDD sets the sttitude of how his players will play for him. As long as we win the 4 games that we better win, all I want to see is the team never give up. Play as hard as they can every play.

That my friends is how we will know if this staff will build a championship caliber team.

GO VOLS

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

Hooker, a lemon has only so much juice. You squeezed it all out of the first rotten recruiting article. But your open door to all the Bammer trolls must have made you dizzy with excitement, and you had another go.

gohawks1 writes:

Counting on Coach Dooley to bring much needed respect and stability to the program... given time, he'll do it. Success will follow, but will take time.

beachvol1 writes:

in response to gohawks1:

Counting on Coach Dooley to bring much needed respect and stability to the program... given time, he'll do it. Success will follow, but will take time.

Thank you...finally somebody gives Dooley a little credit for bringing something to the table..forget the past, Fulmer, K....., and the rest...there is a new era at UT and gosh dang it, support them...The Big Orange may be down, but not out, by any means!!!

OrangePride writes:

Yes, yes. We all know that a bunch of recruits have left or didn't qualify. But here is my point. Boise, TCU, and Utah, do not exactly light up the recruiting boards with top 10 classes every year. So how is it they seem to produce such great on the field products? Coaching. My hope is, and my sense is, that this staff will produce a better product than some of the "experts" seem to think probable right now. And if this year is a little bit short of bowl eligible, well, let's give them a bit larger window. The VOLS and Tennessee WILL be back..........and sooner than people think. GO VOLS.

riversetvol writes:

But, but, I thought we had the "Great Recruiter" as our former, former, coach. Flummo destroyed our program with his policy of hiring mediocre coaches(Washington, Sanders) and then keeping them on long after they should have been fired.

Also he did a terrible job of evaluating recruits in the last years. He passed on Patrick Willis and Garrett Reynolds but did give a scholarship to a 1 star recruit from Alabama whose father was on the Athletics Board.

hueypilot writes:

Question for the group. Having declined to make a one-time donation of $81,400 or $10,000 each year until I reached that amount, I will not be able to retain my parking pass in lot 23B near The Rock. Alas, I must lower my expectations. Question is do any of you have experience with the shuttles from the Ag campus or the Visitors Center (Faculty Club) lots out on Neyland? ARe they fairly convenient or do you wait for them for long periods of time, long lines etc.?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks and Happy Memorial Day from an old vet.

CharlotteVol writes:

This is a decent article in that it summarizes a series of events around this class that played out over a long period of time. I would think that you could look at any one class at most high profile programs and find some similar results though.

For what its worth, I'm expecting a "breakout" season for Gerald Jones. IMO he has stepped up and taken the mantle of leadership, plus I believe he has been frustrated with his own lack of production. Injuries plus Fulmer's dreaded "G-Gun" cheap imitation wildcat and problems at QB have held him back. The QB issues may keep him from being all-conference, but I still believe he will be more of a factor than ever before. GO VOLS

johnlg00 writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Question for the group. Having declined to make a one-time donation of $81,400 or $10,000 each year until I reached that amount, I will not be able to retain my parking pass in lot 23B near The Rock. Alas, I must lower my expectations. Question is do any of you have experience with the shuttles from the Ag campus or the Visitors Center (Faculty Club) lots out on Neyland? ARe they fairly convenient or do you wait for them for long periods of time, long lines etc.?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks and Happy Memorial Day from an old vet.

In my experience, the shuttle buses from the Ag campus and the Coliseum--the only ones I have ever ridden--are excellent in terms of frequency and timeliness. No question the reserved spaces nearer the stadium are better for tailgating, but if all you care about is getting to and from the game, the shuttles from the outlying lots are a decent way to go.

Juzkruzin writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

beck says obama 50 times a day and theres no love affair--no, this sounds like a stupid post

Anyone who listens to Beck shouldn't be posting on here. You are down on the reporter for mentioning Kiffin name twice, but so far I haven't caught him in as many lies since he has ben writing here as Beck does in the 1st 5 minutes of any show. They Best One was when he was in DC and told the crowd that just a few minutes before he had held President Washington Inaugural Speech in his hands, with his hands held out palms upwards and then he started talking about telling the truth. I know there is a lot of BS on this website, but none comes close to Beck's holding a piece of paper that NO ONE can touch. This has nothing to do with UT Football, but maybe Beck and Obama just might have something going on. He is a Mormon and Obama may be one of his wives. See things can get stupid on here in a hurry when we forget that this is a Tennessee Football Site!!

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