John Adams: UT needs to make a run at top recruits

John Adams

Think of all the money Tennessee has saved on Heisman Trophy campaigns the past two years.

Heisman Trophy campaign expenditures for 2010: 0.

Heisman Trophy expenditures for 2011: 0.

Total: 0.

That's not intended to point out the absence of superstars in the UT football program. I'm merely noting that the program should have surplus funds.

Since there's no newly fired coach to pay off, I have a suggestion on how the money should be spent. The Vols need to promote running backs. Not the ones they have; the ones they don't have.

Rent billboards throughout the Southeast. Advertise with ESPNU. Use social media.

It's imperative they let it be known that they not only care about running the football; they have a history of it. Otherwise, recruits might not be able to see past UT's stats, which suggest the team would have as good of a chance of putting a running back on the moon as into an opponent's secondary.

The Vols ranked 116th out of 120 teams in rushing in 2011. They averaged 90.1 yards per game and 2.8 yards per rush.

You might conclude from those numbers that Tennessee could have improved its rushing attack by simply having 6-foot-6 quarterback Tyler Bray attempt to fall forward on each play. You also might conclude that running back recruits would be more horrified watching video of UT's offense than a "Saw" film festival.

It's incumbent on the Vols to inform recruits that the past season was an aberration. Never mind that the program has been known as Wide Receiver U. and Peyton Manning U. UT actually has a long, storied history with future NFL running backs.

Now, more than ever, the Vols need to update that history.

Whatever shortcomings the Vols have, running back is the most paramount. Imagine what

a Trent Richardson or Marcus Lattimore would do for UT's offense

Maybe young running backs like Marlin Lane and Tom Smith will develop. Developing is one thing. Turning into a running back who could transform an entire offense is something else.

You might argue that UT's uncertainty at the position could be a selling point, something like: "Show up and start." I used to think that way. But today's best running backs seem too savvy to yield to the temptation. They're more drawn to an offense that repeatedly punches holes in an opposing defense, and are perhaps more aware of the limited longevity inherent in the position.

Alabama recruited Richardson to play behind Mark Ingram. It recruited running back Eddie Lacy the same year it signed Richardson.

These guys seem content to wait their turn and are more interested in yards per carry than yards. How else can you explain why LSU now has four running backs who could have started for the Vols?

Tennessee once had future NFL running backs waiting in line. Jamal Lewis almost set a single-season NFL rushing record in 2003. Arian Foster led the NFL in rushing last season.

UT needs to educate recruits to that history.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 85

Dougb-VFL writes:

This is a very accurate story. We have put some of the best RBs into the NFL such as Jamal Lewis and Arian Foster and I know that Travis Henry started in the NFL not to mention that Montario Hardesty will soon be a starter if he can remain healthy. I know that Jay Graham will be a positive factor in recruiting and I hope he takes some advice from John Adams on how to reach some of these young men!VFL

eaglehim2 writes:

I'll bet Coach Dooley really appreciates all the advice he is getting from the experts at KNS. I have never seen such sarcasm from one who depends upon UT athletics for their living. The real danger about this is if some highly ranked recruits take the KNS sports page as something serious. The relevance of the KNS sports desk is shrinking even faster than the size of the pages used to print the paper. It is not going to matter in another few months.

N2TheVOLS writes:

I do hope Mr Graham can change things. With a better run game and our passing game, we shouldn't finish 2nd to last in the SEC....

Vols20 writes:

in response to Dougb-VFL:

This is a very accurate story. We have put some of the best RBs into the NFL such as Jamal Lewis and Arian Foster and I know that Travis Henry started in the NFL not to mention that Montario Hardesty will soon be a starter if he can remain healthy. I know that Jay Graham will be a positive factor in recruiting and I hope he takes some advice from John Adams on how to reach some of these young men!VFL

I want to preface my next few lines by saying that I am pro-Tennesse and pro-Jay Graham. However, it's funny that Jay Graham is so revered by the fans on this board because he was a really good back at Tennessee. However, a close friend of mine coached with Graham at the collegiate level and said he is a decent coach, but that there are a lot better guys out there. I'm sure he will help recruiting somewhat, but I would rather have Eddie Gran anyday as a teacher of fundamentals. I hope Coach Graham does "resurrect" the running game, but it will be due to recruiting and not coaching.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

UT and KNS needs to make a run at getting johnboy adams out of town

Dwinsgames writes:

Getting a good to great running back has nothing to do with recruiting one.. until Hindtit is gone the line will not support a running game.
Book it.

Dougb-VFL writes:

in response to eaglehim2:

I'll bet Coach Dooley really appreciates all the advice he is getting from the experts at KNS. I have never seen such sarcasm from one who depends upon UT athletics for their living. The real danger about this is if some highly ranked recruits take the KNS sports page as something serious. The relevance of the KNS sports desk is shrinking even faster than the size of the pages used to print the paper. It is not going to matter in another few months.

If you don't agree with using our awesome history running the ball to help recruit future talent then what do you suggest , maybe a cookout at bruce pearl's house?

wycoller writes:

John Adams: 0.

lincolncovol writes:

True playing the position does not mean a great coach,he will be.I'm holding my judgement till I see a lil product on the field. I've seen CEG name mentioned alot on here and other places, I remember him being here but leaving can't remember the cause however. Was it his choice or "boy blunder's" choice?

Lean_and_Hungry writes:

I'm sure the journalists at KNS appreciate getting criticism from people who struggle to write grammatically correct sentences, know nothing about the publishing business, and bear no responsibility for anything they write.

Navaloranges writes:

If adams isn't pretending he knows more about coaching than our staff, he's trying to tell them how to do their jobs. What a ridiculous piece, again.

elbtenn#502977 writes:

U got to be able to run the ball, especailly in the SEC!!!! That is all!

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

Look, maybe I am wrong here, but the Vols do not have any running backs that can make a big impact early. I'm not saying that what is already there is not good quality type backs. I'm just saying there are few Guys if any who can turn around that running game around for 2012. The Backs the Vols do have seem to be the get the ball to them in open space and let their abilities get yardage. That is fine, but Vols need power backs with homerun potential!Someone said the offensive line needs to run block much better in 2012. Unless CDD can get some backs who make an impact early and often, I see Bray having to throw almost every down to get offensive yardage. That Saban, ahh, shesh, that Saban fellow gets em like we get loaves of bread from the store!

Vols20 writes:

in response to lincolncovol:

True playing the position does not mean a great coach,he will be.I'm holding my judgement till I see a lil product on the field. I've seen CEG name mentioned alot on here and other places, I remember him being here but leaving can't remember the cause however. Was it his choice or "boy blunder's" choice?

Yea, Gran was with Kiffin, and left for FSU on his own accord. He is the associate head coach at "free shoes u" now. Point is this, sure you have to recruit them but coaching them up is a big part too.

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to Dougb-VFL:

If you don't agree with using our awesome history running the ball to help recruit future talent then what do you suggest , maybe a cookout at bruce pearl's house?

Nah, that didn't work, either. Neither of those guys came to UT.

tnfanincali writes:

It wasn't that long ago that their were 4-5 starting running backs in the NFL who played college at UT. Henry, Lewis, Stewart, Garner, and I think Graham were all starting at the same time at one point a few years back. Out of 32 teams, that's pretty amazing! Those were the good old days I guess..

Ayres_Hall writes:

Let me guess. Adams was home alone on Christmas?

Voltillyafall writes:

You folks who are attacking Adams need to grow up. Unless, of course, you are 100% satisfied with our running game...

SummittsCourt writes:

JA, another dumb article not worth typing. Please take a journalism class. You would be surprised how much that could improve your skills.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

If adams isn't pretending he knows more about coaching than our staff, he's trying to tell them how to do their jobs. What a ridiculous piece, again.

N/O and fellow Vols,

I sent my e-mail to big John acknowledging he's on a roll with his Tennessee end of year writing.

He did reply..........said he's finishing strong and "thank you."

Supersayin1 writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Look, maybe I am wrong here, but the Vols do not have any running backs that can make a big impact early. I'm not saying that what is already there is not good quality type backs. I'm just saying there are few Guys if any who can turn around that running game around for 2012. The Backs the Vols do have seem to be the get the ball to them in open space and let their abilities get yardage. That is fine, but Vols need power backs with homerun potential!Someone said the offensive line needs to run block much better in 2012. Unless CDD can get some backs who make an impact early and often, I see Bray having to throw almost every down to get offensive yardage. That Saban, ahh, shesh, that Saban fellow gets em like we get loaves of bread from the store!

Agreed!

wigmeister writes:

Every great back lauds their offensive line, be it college or pro. No great offensive line means small possibility of impact runners!

oldster writes:

The real problem is that good running backs want to play with teams with O lines that can run block well. UT is not such a team. Moreover, since 4 of the starters at the beginning of the year were sophomores and 1 was a junior, and all of the backups who predict to play, ever, were either sophomores or freshmen, it is unlikely that they will turn into good run blockers anytime in the next two years or until UT can afford to recruit run blocking o linemen,or get an O line coach who can communicate with guys who are not pros.

BolivrBob writes:

John, one of your most scathingly sarcastic pieces ever.

murrayvol writes:

Mr. Graham, you have your marching orders. Carry on.

orange_eVOLution writes:

Not really sarcasm. More like truth.

Pullingguard writes:

It's very difficult for running backs to run through a brick wall, and it might as well have been one with the holes being opened by the offensive line. John evidently does not understand the problem totally.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

According to Adams, the odds of us getting into an opposing secondary ranks right up there with his chances of ever winning a Pulitzer.

justafan4ut writes:

Dang, John, you are such a MORON!!!! You usually have an insight that I can see that some others don't. But this article is just plain stupid. You first have to have a OL that can run block, I don't care if we had Barry (freaking) Sanders this year we wouldn't have had many more yards than we had. Pretty good pass blocking doesn't equal good run blocking. Need a dang OL coach that can teach both. People may have already atest to this or not, haven't read the comments yet, but will. John you are a dumb@$#. Gosh, please write something worthy. GO BIG ORANGE!

txsvol#372416 writes:

Those recent posts about not having an OL that can run block make my point. Another year in the weight room for our OL might turn our barely adequate RBs into productive backs, but recruiting a great one with both speed and power, who can start in 2012, would be better. Let's trade John Adams to the Atlanta Journal Constitution with the promise of the best running back in the Atlanta area signing with us in February. Go Vols! SAVol

deputy658 writes:

in response to Dwinsgames:

Getting a good to great running back has nothing to do with recruiting one.. until Hindtit is gone the line will not support a running game.
Book it.

Hiestand may be gone before long as I hear that he is Meyers top choice for OLC at Ohio State.

Huttdawg100 writes:

The most disturbing trend in football is this new thing where young, highly touted running backs go to schools where their are other young highly touted running backs. I can't understand why 5 star Keith Marshall would go to UGA and back up 5 star Isaiah Crowell. And the same thing for Trent Richardson, Ingram and Lacey. UT should've been in on Marshall, but we didn't have a running back coach at the time, and no big time RB is going to commit to a school that doesn't have an RB coach. Maybe next year.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Wish all the idiots that criticize Adams would just quit reading the articles. Their negative posts just clutter the good feedback from the legitimate posters. Grow up!!

CroKev writes:

Here's the question: Richardson ran over 1,500 yards this year behind the Bama OL and Poole ran under 700 yards with the UT OL. If you switched those two backs, how many yards would each of them have rushed for this year?

I think Richardson would have just broken 1,000 yards and Poole's numbers would have been similar. Any thoughts?

justafan4ut writes:

in response to CroKev:

Here's the question: Richardson ran over 1,500 yards this year behind the Bama OL and Poole ran under 700 yards with the UT OL. If you switched those two backs, how many yards would each of them have rushed for this year?

I think Richardson would have just broken 1,000 yards and Poole's numbers would have been similar. Any thoughts?

Not sure on your numbers, but if correct, Poole 1200 and Richardson 900. Must have some OL blocking to accomplish any running. HOLES HOLES HOLES! Richardson is faster and stronger but wins and loses not much different. Sorry for the disagreement.

oldster writes:

Since anyone running the ball for UT has to create their own holes, what about the idea of using both our fullbacks to run the ball. After all, Fugate did gain over 3,000 yards running the ball his Sr. year in high school. Wait! I know the reason. He is not athletic enough to be a running back.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to deputy658:

Hiestand may be gone before long as I hear that he is Meyers top choice for OLC at Ohio State.

So if Eric Russell gets hired away by Leach and Heistand gets hired away by Meyer, then why did we not do better? Apparently our assistants are considered with high appraisal.

orange_eVOLution writes:

I would like some voice of reason from TommyJack about now. What say ye regarding our assistant coaches in leaving or transition? Thanks.

oldster writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I wonder about the change in technique for run blocking since the extension of the arms came into play. I have coached young boys blocking and have found it much easier to teach them pass blocking under the current rules than run blocking. I think it has to do with the fact that one tends to be more upright when using the hands to contact a defender than the shoulder and, therefore, lack the body lean and leg drive. I know that it can be taught and done, but it seems to be against the natural tendency of the body to straighten up when "punching" with both hands. Do the UT O linemen not seem to be more upright when attempting to run block than good running teams? It seems that way to me - at least much of the time.

utjunkie writes:

What UT needs is an offensive line that knows how to RUN BLOCK! Better yet an offensive line coach who knows how to teach it, cause the one we have certainly doesn't. Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry or Trent Richardson couldn't have run behind our line this year. It doesn't matter how good the back is if he doesn't have blocking. A good blocking offensive line can make an average back look good.

BamaVol writes:

If we had an Oline coach that could coach these kids, we would make an average RB look good. Straight blocking isn't always the key to a run game. Thats just what I think, I don't know anything about football. Like most on this site.

flatrock writes:

It would help the running game if the idiot QB would learn to read defenses prior to the snap and check out of plays that have no chance...

pms151 writes:

With the limited depth and talent available the offense was designed for the passing game this year, not the running game. When the whole thing fell apart, not just Hunter, the running game was called on to do a job it had not been prepared to do. It was easy for SEC defensive coaches to dominate and they did. This was all just a part of the problem started with the firing of Fulmer and the hiring of Kiffin. Lack of continuity caused this.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to pms151:

With the limited depth and talent available the offense was designed for the passing game this year, not the running game. When the whole thing fell apart, not just Hunter, the running game was called on to do a job it had not been prepared to do. It was easy for SEC defensive coaches to dominate and they did. This was all just a part of the problem started with the firing of Fulmer and the hiring of Kiffin. Lack of continuity caused this.

Maybe so. but the few games I saw our running backs just didn't want contact. Good running backs love to get hit. It motivates them.

Timbo_Slice writes:

in response to CroKev:

Here's the question: Richardson ran over 1,500 yards this year behind the Bama OL and Poole ran under 700 yards with the UT OL. If you switched those two backs, how many yards would each of them have rushed for this year?

I think Richardson would have just broken 1,000 yards and Poole's numbers would have been similar. Any thoughts?

Last year Poole was 1000 yard rusher behind a line made up of mostly freshman and a sophmore, with most of his yardage coming with Simms under center (during the toughest part of the schedule). This year, our two best running preformances came against the two teams playing for the national championship, which also had Simms playing under center. I didnt want to believe it at the time but it seems to me that a lot of our problems with the running game start with the qb. Bray is obviously a great passer but after hearing about his comments after the KY game, it seems that he lacks the attitude and work ethic to become a complete qb. Hope he proves me wrong in 2012 but for now, the numbers don't lie.

jimr07 writes:

in response to eaglehim2:

I'll bet Coach Dooley really appreciates all the advice he is getting from the experts at KNS. I have never seen such sarcasm from one who depends upon UT athletics for their living. The real danger about this is if some highly ranked recruits take the KNS sports page as something serious. The relevance of the KNS sports desk is shrinking even faster than the size of the pages used to print the paper. It is not going to matter in another few months.

Well stated. And, a big AMEN!!!!!

volaholic45 writes:

What a job! Stick your thumb in the locals' eye, spice it up with sarcasm and contempt, get a check. Could have been written by a troll.

OldVols68 writes:

I have no faith in this coaching staff to ever beat the other coaches and teams in the SEC -- the only one making a worse hire was Fla when they hired Muschamp. Dooley is a second-tier coach, not his father....so I figure we will fall behind Vandy and Ky even in the next couple of years. Vandy got the better of the two coaches somehow...Ky may have lucked out and seen the Vol(ettes) just plain not give a darn whether they won or lost.

Boy what a bad time to be a Vol.

Sir_Spanky writes:

I remember when Jamal Lewis was a freshman and stood on the sidelines in Gainesville the entire game while CPF had his QB slinging the ball all over creation in one of his numerous losses to FL.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to Timbo_Slice:

Last year Poole was 1000 yard rusher behind a line made up of mostly freshman and a sophmore, with most of his yardage coming with Simms under center (during the toughest part of the schedule). This year, our two best running preformances came against the two teams playing for the national championship, which also had Simms playing under center. I didnt want to believe it at the time but it seems to me that a lot of our problems with the running game start with the qb. Bray is obviously a great passer but after hearing about his comments after the KY game, it seems that he lacks the attitude and work ethic to become a complete qb. Hope he proves me wrong in 2012 but for now, the numbers don't lie.

After hearing TB run his mouth after the KY debacle, a total embarrassment to everything TN stands for, I'm thinking he'd be a better fit at a school like UCLA where they're usually "over football" by about mid-October.

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