Dooley adds twist to recruiting; a look at UT's five Georgia commitments

ATHENS, Ga. - Recruiting in Georgia has mattered for a long time to Tennessee football.

It mattered in 1998 when Georgia recruits Jamal Lewis, Deon Grant and Cosey Coleman helped the Vols win a national championship.

It mattered the last three years when Georgia native Eric Berry established himself as one of the best players in UT history with highlight hits and one spectacular interception return after another.

And it will matter Saturday at Sanford Stadium when the Vols try to upset the Bulldogs with four Georgians, including leading rusher Tauren Poole, in their starting lineup.

But it might matter more than ever as Derek Dooley establishes his program at UT.

No longer do you have Vols recruiting Georgians. You have an ex-Georgian recruiting Georgians.

Not just any Georgian, but the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley.

"I think the (Dooley) name still means something," said Brunswick High School coach Victor Floyd. "It means a national championship (in 1980).

"I came here from South Carolina, and I've had more people tell me about that national championship than you can shake a stick at."

One of Floyd's players, defensive back Justin Coleman, already has committed to play football at UT in 2011. So has safety Brian Randolph of Kell High Schoool in Marietta, Ga.

"I went to (the university of) Georgia," said Derek Cook, Randolph's coach. "I always hated Tennessee.

"Then, they hired (Derek) Dooley. Well, that was a good move."

Georgia high school players seem to agree. Five of them have committed to the Vols for 2011.

And all five of them are having outstanding senior seasons.

Here's a look at UT's five Georgia commitments through the first half of the season.

n Brian Randolph: A hard-hitting free safety on Kell's unbeaten team, he has been compared favorably to other prominent players (pros Jonathan Dwyer and Kenny McKinley) from the same school.

"He's better because he can do more things," Cook said.

Randolph is 6 feet, 190 pounds, runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, and has a 4.1 grade-point average, according to his coach, who appreciates his toughness as much as his physical skills.

He rushed for 1,300 yards and had 137 tackles last season despite playing the entire year with an injured right shoulder.

"The shoulder would slip out of place even when he was raising his arm for a fair catch," Cook said. "Most kids would have just hung it up."

The shoulder has healed, and Randolph is hitting harder than ever. He already has 97 tackles in his senior season.

"Receivers are tentative coming across the middle, because they know they're going to get lit up," Cook said. "He had to lead with his other shoulder last year."

Cook doesn't anticipate Randolph having any difficulty adjusting to the college game.

"He will play as a freshman at Tennessee," he said. "He's got such a competitive streak, he won't stay on the bench."

n Justin Coleman: He's expected to play cornerback in college, but he's playing just about everywhere in his senior season at Brunswick. For example, take Brunswick's 64-62 overtime loss to Valdosta.

Coleman (5-11, 175) played 146 plays in the game, according to his coach. His workload has come at a variety of positions: cornerback, safety, running back and wide receiver.

Not only does he excel in football. He's a track star, too.

"He would be the favorite to sweep the hurdles at state if he stayed (through the spring semester)," Floyd said. "A lot of kids would want to gloat in their senior season.

"But he will be an early enrollee (at UT). He's a very mature kid."

While Coleman is passing on track, his scoring reflects his athletic versatility in football. He has touchdowns this season rushing, receiving, on an interception and on a punt return.

"He doesn't get a lot to his side (as a cornerback)," Floyd said. "Ware (High School) tested him on the first series last week.

"They ran a vertical route, and he intercepted. They didn't test him anymore."

Floyd rates Coleman ahead of South Carolina defensive back C.C. Whitlock, whom he coached in high school. He contends that Coleman should be a top-20 prospect in Georgia.

"But we're over here on the coast," said Floyd, referring to his school's lack of publicity.

n Christian Harris: After playing outside linebacker as a junior at Etowah High School in Woodstock, he moved to middle linebacker as a senior. The switch was an easy decision for coach Bill Stewart.

"I wanted my biggest and best in there," Stewart said. "We play a 4-3 (defense) just like Tennessee."

Stewart's biggest and best is noticeably bigger than last season when Harris played at 205 pounds.

Harris is now 6-2, 230 pounds and is breaking school weightlifting records.

"He's bigger, faster and stronger," Stewart said.

Harris had 18 tackles and an interception two games ago. Last week, he had 15 tackles in the first half of a one-sided game but didn't play in the second.

His increased knowledge of the game is another factor in his overall improvement.

"He spends his lunch hour in the field house watching film," Stewart said. "He's eat up with it.

"He's book smart but he's also football smart."

n Alan Posey: An offensive tackle at the same high school where Dooley once played, Posey is one of several college prospects on Clarke Central's unbeaten team. He's coached by Leroy Ryals, who was on Nick Saban's staff at LSU with Dooley.

When Ryals was hired at Clarke Central, Posey was only in the seventh grade. But he was already 6-4.

He's just now getting comfortable with his size, according to his coaches.

"(Posey) is more mature this season and he's also keeping his weight down," Ryals said of the 6-6, 295-pound offensive tackle. "When he keeps his weight down, he's tough. When he starts getting above 300, he's not as agile and struggles at times.

"He has been as high as 320 in the off-season. We had to watch him.

"But he's done a good job. He's feeling better about himself and running better. That big sucker can run."

Posey has something else going for him.

"He's a college football junkie," Ryals said. "He studies college football.

"He calls me every weekend, saying, 'Did you see this game, did you see that game?' I've got to worry about our game."

Ryals expects the similarities in his system and Dooley's will aid Posey in his transition to college.

"A lot of the terminology, the way we do things are just like what they do at Tennessee," he said. "And some of the things we do in practice are the same.

"I think it will be a smooth transition for him."

n A.J. Johnson: He began the season as the leader of Gainesville High School's defense. Now, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker is a force in the running game as well.

"I couldn't get our ground game going," said Gainesville coach Bruce Miller, whose team is now 4-1, thanks, in part, to Johnson's expanded role.

Johnson sparked the running game right away when Gainesville gave him the ball in the Wildcat package. Miller had to see only one practice to figure out it was a good move.

"Our scout team couldn't tackle him," Miller said. "I was afraid he was going to hurt somebody."

In a 20-13 victory over North Hall, Johnson rushed for 192 yards and scored three touchdowns.

He broke seven tackles on a 55-yard run in the second half.

Johnson's increased workload hasn't affected his defense. He still has had double-figure tackles in every game.

"He gets better almost daily," Miller said. "Because whatever you tell him to work on, that's what he's going to do."

Miller believes Johnson could play defensive end or linebacker in college - "wherever you need him."

"It wouldn't surprise me if he started as a freshman at Tennessee," Miller said. "He doesn't like being on the bench."

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Comments » 22

VolunteerLifer writes:

Go get um, CDD

rockytopatl writes:

There's lots of good reporting in this piece. Nice job, Adams. It's amazing how many of our stars have come from Georgia and it looks like that will continue into the future.

dalvol writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks to JA for the article about some of our recruits. It sounds like Dooley is recruiting some character kids who can play and who will make a difference.

everydayisorange writes:

Good article by Adams! I thought UT is favored on Saturday though. Not an upset if that is true. Good to read about future players.

UTByrd writes:

Sounds like perfect fits in the Wilcox defense. I'm loving it! 4.1 gpa! Imagine that! Recruiting intelligent, athletic players with integrity.
...and the hits just keep on rollin'.
Go VOLS!!!!!

Hounddog writes:

JA, thanks for the article. Informative and postive news for UT. Everyone in W.TN news picking GA-mainly becasue it is at GA.

Poise. What I noticed about our football team as I watched the game in Tiger Stadium is how poised on both sides of the ball the VOLS played.
It seemed, they were on a mission to play mistake free football. Until the mix-up at the end they played well. They was more focused than the UAB game, in my opinion...improving.

If these guys carry the same demeanor into Athens, as an underdog... we could surprise some. I've been saying since last spring, I like the chemistry of this coach, staff, and team. With the support of true VOLS, and a little time...watch out! Let's keep the focus on remaining poised. Hounddog

paden312 writes:

Kenny McKinley did not go to Kell High school. He instead went to South Cobb. Derek Cooke used to be a coach, however, at South Cobb while McKinley was a player.

khelton657 writes:

Good article, Mt Adams...good to get to know these future Tennessee players..sounds like Dooley is recruiting by something other than stars, which is just someone else's opinion.

In business there is a saying that people hire in their own image. It looks like Dooley is recruiting in his own image....character, determination, brains seem to matter

skm writes:

wow, it seems that these kids can play, are good students, and are football junkies. i like it.

iowavol writes:

Wow, Adams sucked me right into reading one of his articles, something I haven't done in a year, by not saying something negative about the Vols. Don't worry, a leopard doesn't change it's spots. Sounds like some great character and work ethic coming our way - would love to read about some DT's with similar resumes.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to iowavol:

Wow, Adams sucked me right into reading one of his articles, something I haven't done in a year, by not saying something negative about the Vols. Don't worry, a leopard doesn't change it's spots. Sounds like some great character and work ethic coming our way - would love to read about some DT's with similar resumes.

With ya iowa.I dont believe john wrote this...probably stole some intern's work.

Too informative and didn't mention Fulmer nor kiffin.

nocleats writes:

Hold on to them, keep them in the books and the weight room. and keep lloking across Georgia for a D TACKLE.

CrankE writes:

The reason they still talk about the national championship in 1980 is because of what Tennessee did in 2004 and 2007. If not for those two losses, UGA could have been in position to grab an SEC title and perhaps a BCS Championship appearance. (BTW, those are the only two UGA teams to beat Florida in the last 20 years or so.)

Richt loses on Saturday and I think he's gone.

Get the W. Get Richt fired. Get hot on recruiting Georgia.

VOLliven2it writes:

Glad to see these fine gentlemen planning on coming to Knoxville. With them we are well on the way to rebuilding the team we want to see on the field. There is still work to do on Dline and others but this is a great beginning. As for Sat.'s game, it will likely be a tough one. I just hope we play and play hard the whole 60 minutes. I won't be surprised if GA comes out quickly. I only hope we do not get too down and hang in there. Go VOLS, future potential recruits will be watching.

Major_Magilicutty writes:

Did it occur to you dolts that Kenny McKinley is no longer a prominent professional player? How about an edit?

Pullingguard writes:

They sound pretty good on paper, will be interesting to see if it all comes together once they are at UT...This recruiting class still needs lot umph to put UT back on the road to recovery.. Will be interesting to see the final outcome..

volfan8#549730 writes:

in response to myfollower#555763:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good Post!:)

UTbassdrummer writes:

Love it. Excited about the remainder of the season and excited to see who else we can pull in. Things feel good.
And I'm super proud of all the support for Dooley and
ESPECIALLY Simms as this season progresses. The thick
negativity heading into this season was disgusting. Simms is now tough as nails, not complaining, and becoming a great passer AND rusher, and CDD is
pulling in smart, talented recruits.

Dooley is doing what we brought him here to do, and is currently doing it VERY short-handed. Given some depth behind our talented starters....

orangeman1 writes:

in response to CrankE:

The reason they still talk about the national championship in 1980 is because of what Tennessee did in 2004 and 2007. If not for those two losses, UGA could have been in position to grab an SEC title and perhaps a BCS Championship appearance. (BTW, those are the only two UGA teams to beat Florida in the last 20 years or so.)

Richt loses on Saturday and I think he's gone.

Get the W. Get Richt fired. Get hot on recruiting Georgia.

I think the a win Saturday would help recruiting in Georgia immensly. Not only would it show recruits there that UT program is on its way back up, but also put doubt in their minds about whether Richt and staff will even be there next year.

codybain13 writes:

hey, i dont care what the recruiting rankings are, i think this is a good recruiting class because dooley looks for players that will fit in our program. not what the player is ranked at their position.

CrankE writes:

I forgot to mention, get John Adams booted. REGIME CHANGE AT KNS!!!

How's that for a twist on recruiting?

HtownVol writes:

I got pretty fired up reading about our recruits. I am sure every coach that has a player going to a major school will have great things to say, but the stats dont lie.

CDD will have UT back in the top 20 in 2 years no doubt. And even if our recruiting class is ranked 20 or so I know that CDD knows talent when he sees it. Trust in a former recruiter of the year and we will like the players he brings to UT.

FLVOL69 - that was wrong.

GO VOLS

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